Monday, 20 May 2013

Deborah Jay Guest Post: What are the 5 Things a Busy Writer Can't Do Without?

I'm delighted that writer Deborah Jay has agreed to write a guest post for The Beautiful Room. 

Thanks so much, Jane, for inviting me to guest post on your blog J
I’m talking today about the challenges of being a part timer, distilled down to the 5 things I simply couldn’t do without as a time-squeezed writer.   My writing has to fit around my hectic day job as a professional dressage rider/trainer/judge which, for anyone that knows anything about horses, is more of a vocation than a job, and gobbles time.  So without further ado, here they are:

1.      My laptops – both of them: Lara Laptop and Nettie Notebook. I’m away quite a lot, flying and staying in hotels and also living in my horsebox at long shows. Without the laptops I’d be left with a whole heap of wasted time between classes which can just as easily be filled with – you’ve guessed it – writing! I should probably also include my smartphone, on which I take audio notes of any plot or dialogue that comes to mind when I don’t have time to stop and write it down, and helps me keep my emails under control when I’m without internet access.

2.      Kindle and kindle apps – I have kindle apps on both laptops – free to download and my whole kindle library accessible on all three machines, meaning I have all my reference books (not to mention motivational readingJ) right at my fingertips.

3.      A thesaurus – I like to think I have a fair-sized vocabulary, but it can always be expanded. I also have a magic little ebook called The Emotion Thesaurus , which details a range of physical actions and internal sensations for all the major emotions – fantastic for a novelist battling with ‘show don’t tell’ syndrome.

4.      Clean fresh air and open spaces – okay, okay, perhaps that’s two, but to me they are inseparable.  I never really have time to just sit and think (plot), I have to do it on the move, while I’m driving, or hacking (only on the more reliable nags!), and I need fresh air to clear out my mental cobwebs, and nature for inspiration.

5.      My beta readers and writers group – both are invaluable resources. My non-fiction gets read by a group of my ‘Essex girls’ – horse-riding ladies I teach once a month in Essex. They let me know if I’ve made anything too complicated, and pose questions if they think there’s something I didn’t cover in enough depth. My writers group do the same for my fiction. How much time can I save by not going down a blind alley with a plot, or getting distracted by a minor character? Answer – plenty.
So there you have it – my essentials. What are yours?

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.  She shares her life with a pack of dogs and a couple of horses she competes in dressage. Her love for good food is kept in check by the need to button up her tailcoat, and her complete inability to cook. Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands.
This summer will see publication of her debut novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN, the first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award. She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published under the name Debby Lush.
Find out more about Deborah at or follow Deborah on twitter @DeborahJay2 .


  1. Thanks so much, Deborah. My notebook is also called Nettie! I had not heard of the Emotion Thesaurus but will look that up - sounds really useful.

  2. Oh it is, believe it!
    Thanks again for having me :)