How do I work? Now there’s a question. I’ve never been asked that before but when New Writing North put it to me, I thought I had better actually think about how I go from nothing to finished piece.
I take most of my inspiration from everyday life – I like to focus in on things that are as natural and commonplace to us as breathing. I also like, as my writing group mentor says, to describe the familiar in unfamiliar terms.
All of my first drafts are written in a notebook. I have drawers full of them, and nothing can beat the satisfaction of seeing one fill up! I often start off with a line or a vague concept of what I want to write. This can come from anything, from a news story about 3D raspberries to a writing prompt, or someone else’s work. From there, I start to develop a loose narrative in my head.
I prefer detailed stories to still images because they provide me with more opportunities to bring out the concrete detail in the setting. Domestic and commonplace situations and objects are always something I want to look twice at.
Once I have that, I try to let go and just write. I remind myself that I can change absolutely anything in editing, so it doesn’t stop me from getting something rough down. Sometimes, while writing, I use other sensory things like music, ambient sounds and scented candles. Although I often find myself pausing a song to pick the rhythm of the poem I’m writing, it’s interesting to explore the serene effect scents like lavender can have on the setting of a piece.
My work, especially my poetry, often uses half rhymes. I read aloud as I work, and when I edit, making sure that each line flows with the rest. For me, it’s important to try and finish the piece I’m working on in one sitting, rather than leave it for later; then the atmosphere and thought journey is consistent throughout.
As far as distractions go, two of the biggest culprits are looking for prompts online and choosing what song to listen to next. As it turns out, you can have too much of a good thing. Fortunately, I don’t have a TV in the same room as my workspace!
Right now, my writing day has to work itself around my college day. During the week, I find time to write in moments between classes and studying. I’m lucky enough to attend a fortnightly group for young writers, which is what led me to develop to this point over a number of years. I always like to get a creative boost at the start of the week when I go out for a hot chocolate and take my notebook with me. I’m definitely a night owl, and you can often find me editing poetry well past midnight.