Writers’ Ways 7: Collecting information

Writers’ Ways 7: Collecting information
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

So far, in Writers’ Ways, we have considered aspects of getting in to writing, and things to work on and consider. Having plucked up the courage, how do we get the words we want to say onto the paper or into print?


We need to give ourselves time when we can sit down and put our thoughts together. Get the washing-up done first. Don’t have a drink in case we knock it over. Tidy the decks and have paper & pencil etc (or power in my laptop). Phone calls? ................... No, it is too much. Maybe leave writing until another day.

The writing teacher insists: “Now, now. Don’t even think of that option. You are a budding author. Remember!

Brain Storming

This is the act of taking a subject or a thought and listing all the ideas which come to mind relating it. This can be an interesting exercise showing how one idea leads to another. For example:

Trees; season(s); Christmas; Angels; bells; bulbs; plants; spring; snow; frost; gloves; boots; walking; birds; singing…

Mind mapping

You might notice that some ideas in brainstorming overlap, and come into more than one thought pattern. It can be fun to explore this in a mind map diagram. Using the above list as an example:


I highlighted the word angels in the mind map above because it relates back to the Knots of wood which have run through this series. One of the knots made me think of an Angel with wings / arms outstretched.

While collecting and preparing material for my work I chanced upon two instances relating to Angels and, with permission of the respective parties involved, have been able to include them in my project. Please note here that if you want to use the work of someone else, be it writing or photos or pictures, then it is essential to get, in writing, the permission of that person. You can find out more on copyright here.

Angelic voices

Firstly, one rainy day with time to fill on the South Bank in London, I was in Southwark Cathedral, when I heard a member of the congregation who had a magnificent voice. This event led me to St Olave’s Church in the City for a lunchtime concert. This in turn led me to attending lectures on the life of Samuel Pepys as he attended St Olave's Church. Through this, I learnt about the Angel on the ceiling n the vestry. The Angel is in plasterwork and dates back to 1661. It is of particular interest because, despite the rest of the building being severely damaged in World War II, the vestry and the Angel survived. Quite recently it has been renovated and is rather beautiful.

Wizardry in wood

The second occasion was when an opportunity arose to attend a ‘Wizardry in Wood‘ exhibition at Carpenters’ Hall in London, on 4-6th June 2008.  That hall just provides the space for their exhibition which is actually produced by The Turners Livery Company. A lathe had been set up in the entrance hall to demonstrate wood turning. However, a rather different lathe was to be seen in the main hall. Here they housed the Angel Lathe, which had been brought to this country for the exhibition.

At the same event Peter Ellis, Citizen and Turner of London, introduced me to an engraving of the Lathe together with the explanation from the Dutch Historian Professor Agnès Guideroni. The explanation read that the lathe:“Emblematises the spiritual progress that each Christian should achieve under the guidance of Divine love, by turning away from the vanities of the world.”

It was fortuitous that I was given the opportunity to view such an unusual and precious piece of work, and I am extremely grateful to be able to share the basic details with you. Being related to wood and the use of wood, it seemed important to be included in the development of my work relating to ‘Knots of Wood’.

Christmas Angels

In a different vein, the image of Angels seems more noticeable at Christmastime. They are regarded as gentle, caring souls who watch over us.

©Christine Hawthorne 2010 (this painting is now in private ownership)

If you have not yet read the other ‘Writers’ Ways’, they might be able to help with developing your writing. And, now think of how you can record your ideas as they arise. Collect them; list then; brainstorm them; link them.

You were advised earlier on about always having the notepad and pencil or pen to hand. Do not let those ideas escape. Perhaps you will not use them at the time, but once recorded you can always go back to them at a convenient time. They will be your ideas, and you can change them.