Page Fright – by Jane Ayres

Editorials

Empty space. Empty place.

A blank page on a blank screen.

Fear of the unknown.  Is that what is so daunting about writing those first few words?  Why is that blank space so intimidating?

Page fright.  A writer’s nightmare.  The evil twin of procrastination.  You’ve done battle with the big P and now you are poised to dazzle with your wordcraft skills, your pearls of insight.  But wait – you hold back.  Will you censor your thoughts and strangle your darlings before they get the chance to draw breath?  What are we afraid of?  Being judged, criticised? Not being good enough?

Creation is a mysterious process.

As a younger writer, I would spend ages staring at that white page (we used pen and paper or typewriters in the 70s!), digging deep for inspiration, wanting the words to be perfect immediately.   I would get everything straight in my head before committing it to paper.

I’ve often read advice for writers that suggests writing anything to fill that space, to overcome the self-censoring instinct.  Later, you can edit what you have written and mould it into something that satisfies you.  This works for me.  The advent of technology has changed the way I compose and I can write my novels in whatever order I wish.  If I am in the mood to work on that action sequence in Chapter 9, I will.  If I feel more reflective, I will write the complex emotional exchange between the main characters in Chapter 3.  Oh, the joys of the cut and paste tool on a word processor!

The way in which we work, the medium used, does affect what we produce.  I love the freedom and flexibility that my laptop offers me.  If I want to change the middle section of my story, I can do so without having to type the whole lot out again from the beginning.  Bliss!  I approach the writing like constructing a patchwork quilt.

But when I use pen and paper, my thought processes are different.  I work inside my head more, and will cover the white space with scribbling, diagrams, lines and arrows, visually setting out the connections.  I probably dream the story more in advance.  And I love using white space to create poetry, which for me is both visual and musical.

When I teach writing workshops, I generally get participants to use paper and pen, which for many students is a bit of a novelty, especially the IT generation, because it offers possibilities that may not have been previously considered.  The results are always exciting. Especially when students have no more than five minutes to complete the first workshop exercise.  Pressure, whether real or imagined, can be a useful motivator.

So, after we have slain the fiery dragons of Procrastination and Page Fright, what other obstacles await us as we continue our journeys on the path of creation?

Limehouse Design : This Is What I Do – By Emily Foster

Editorials

As a fellow creative, you will understand that not everybody understands us.

Since finishing university and making my first proper steps into the world of work, I am often asked what it is I do now. For an elderly relative, it is enough to state briefly that I am working in publishing (books have been around a long time). For my friends outside of the creative industry, this might not be enough; to them, I am the Graphic Designer, and sole creative person of the group. Even though they’re not sure what this truly means, the title seems to satisfy them.

But none of this is enough for my creative friends, nor enough for the Creatabot readers, I feel. The other creatives always seem to ask more questions; they need to know exactly what and how and why. They need the specifics. Luckily, ours is a sharing community, so here I plan to share exactly what it is I do, design-wise, at Limehouse Books.

So what is it that I do? And what does that involve?

First, the obvious. I create covers, and lay out the text, of the books. This involves some direction from my boss, the Managing Director of Limehouse Books. It involves accurate page sizes with bleeds and margins, and exporting to pdfs. It involves liaising with printers and pre-press teams who check (note: check, not fix) your file for you.

What else? There’s design for a purely digital purpose. The Limehouse magazine, for example, which is released online-only, and various digital catalogues. All of these can be seen here: http://www.slideshare.net/limehousebooks. There’s also a few other, little pieces that need to be done. Creating pack shots of books to go on our website, for example, or making an advert as a banner to go on another website. A desktop wallpaper, an event flyer, a cover image for Facebook.

However, all this stuff is still pretty standard. Loads of other companies manage their own creative output just fine. One of the hardest things about working for Limehouse is that we don’t do this with an experienced production team. We do this just us. Just me – the fresh-faced design graduate, not too much experience but eager to learn – and the Managing Director – smart but still doesn’t understand what a baseline grid is.

This sometimes makes for a very scary working day. At the moment we are preparing our next VIB – Very Important Book – to send to print. This project is different as we are producing it in collaboration with another company – so there are more people to potentially disappoint. If this wasn’t enough, we are printing not our usual two thousand copies, but ten thousand copies of this book. If this goes wrong, it will be all our (read: my) fault.

And why am I telling you all this?

I share all this for you to understand. If you feel like you’re in over your head – don’t worry, so do we. We learn as we go along. Being a designer, especially at Limehouse, is much more than knowing Indesign inside out. It’s about having motivation, about listening and learning all the time. Half of what I do now, I didn’t even dream of this time last year. And I hope I still feel the same in another year’s time. 

By Emily Foster

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/emilyjaynefoster

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