Conversation 103: How We Write & What Do We Need

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I am interested in how we write and what we need as writers.
On a post in THE DAILY HAIKU recently I asked for responses to the following questions:

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  • Do you have a particular time of day, time in the week or even a season when you write?
  • Do you have a particular place that supports your writing eg, a writing space, study, cafe, place at work…?
  • Do you have a support network for your writing, eg, family, friends, writing groups, agent, publisher….?
  • Do other interests in your life support your writing and also what other interests in your life can hinder your writing?
  • What types of writing are you engaged in and are there types of writing you would like to explore further?
  • Do particular themes inspire you more than others – please expand on why?
  • How much does your wellbeing correspond to your writing?
  • What do you write on, pen/paper and/or computer/other devices?
  • Do you keep a diary/notebook/sketchbook either virtually and/or physically?
  • What other art forms do you enjoy that are part of your writing?
  • How does writing make you feel?
  • Expand please on your personal relationship to creative writing, eg how long have you been writing, observations etc?
  • What are your favourite forms of creative writing and why – how do these relate to the writing you are doing?
  • What are your reading and viewing (films,TV etc) habits?
  • Can you identify any issues that you have experienced around creative writing?
  • Why do you write?
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Writing has always formed a large part of my life. As a child I would be frequently found lost on a landing caught up in my writing when it was time for dinner. Every time I move I bring bags and boxes of old notebooks with me. Notebooks are still the foundation of my writing life and now also my phone (for notes and photographs). I have always felt very at home writing anywhere – on buses, trains, grabbing moments of free time to jot down a thought.  In that way I do not need a study or quiet space, although I have had that luxury in the past but am just as at home on the sofa with the news or music on and the family buzzing around me.  

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If I look back I can identify some key things that helped support my writing particularly my poetry. Joining a writing group in my late teens was a really key moment, not least to be surrounded and nurtured by like-minded people but also to start performing my work too.  Performing gave me a great deal of confidence and also allowed me to look at my writing from a different perspective. Attending an Arvon course in my early twenties was another milestone. It was also a time when I acknowledged after getting a fair amount of poetry published in magazines/anthologies/competitions that I wanted to take the next step towards putting a collection together.  Arvon was a chance to get some tough feedback on my work from experienced tutors that included the wonderful Sean O’Brien.    

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Wellbeing and writing go together with me.  If I am writing I feel well.  Writing can also be a place where I can work through personal issues and move them into a creative space which is cathartic.  Being a parent to three children (with my last child almost flying the nest), writing has adapted to the needs of being a parent. Encouraged by a publisher I was working for I also diversified into Childrens writing and was able to incorporate my interests in travel into writing for Time Out. Working for years as a literary agent and editor has helped me understand the other side of writing and have an insight into what writers need to help support them.  In the last fifteen years I have also worked as a creative practitioner within arts for health, corporate, educational and community settings. The key part of this work is helping facilitate creativity mostly through writing but also through the visual arts.

This work really showed me how important it is to offer accessible, engaging and invitational formats to encourage people to get writing.  Hence the inspiration behind THE DAILY HAIKU. Themes seem to work really well and I enjoy taking time out of my day to mull over the daily and weekly prompts.  The group has become a community that I love both running and taking part in.  Looking back at my life I can see it brings together my passion for encouraging others to write alongside my own passion for writing.   Our worldwide membership that is continuing to grow keeps our community dynamic and I love the diverse engagement.  We seem to be always changing and looking forward which helps us stay fresh whilst feeling familiar.   This will be the balance I hope to sustain going forward.

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For my own personal writing I like to work on different projects at any one time whether it is a short film script and poetry or writing and delivering courses. Whilst poetry will always be my first love I am open to exploring all forms of writing and have found that something that may start as a poem may develop into a short story or film.  While I am juggling jobs this works well for me but I can imagine a time when I have more time to pursue longer writing projects that need that sustained concentration and time focus.  But one thing I have learnt over the years is to go with the flow, if I have less time to write in a month I may miss it but stressing over it is pointless and counter productive. When time is tight I have learnt to fit in some daily creativity (now of course perfectly provided by THE DAILY HAIKU). I am always looking at the world with a creative eye even if it is just a photograph that I grab on my way to an appointment or a jotted idea sparked by an overheard conversation. I think having other ways to express yourself when you may be blocked or busy is helpful.

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Here are some responses to the above questions that were shared on THE DAILY HAIKU about how you write and what you need.   Do add your thoughts in the comment thread below.
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Keith Evetts

Any quiet time and place, with whatever comes to hand I write. Don’t ask me why, why do you read? And I like what I’ve written for a day, though seldom more. Sometimes a poem’s found in conversation overheard – listening’s so hard to do. Sometimes a word will spark a chain reaction. Sometimes not at all; but it’s surprising what by chance materialiseson a blank wall. I keep some notes,a file called “lines and phrases” where part-formed snatches from wherever gather rust against a wet day when I look at them again. Like as not I wonder why on earth I kept them. And I jotupon a little pad I carry with a pencil in a pocket. How quaint! But better than forget it.

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There’s no support, my family is tolerant, amused my friends likewise indifferent – poets are rather freaky,aren’t they? And they think a poet has to be a mystic, use fantastic words they love not understanding, so tothem I am no poet, really; not a real one. From time to time there’s company, but more often alone.

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And does it bring well-being, you ask? A hearty laugh, you see sometimes it leads to thrilling moments –
are they good for me? Well I think not; the effort leaves me drained, the outcome fails to satisfy;and a summit that I thought I scaled reveals another summit,dammit. So no, it doesn’t bring well-being, unlike gardening….
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Susan Williams
Always pen and paper…I write in my journal..notebooks..any scrap of paper…early mornings in my sun room…whatever pops into my head…art …religion..spirituality…nature…inspires my Haiku..can’t remember not having a book or pen ..what I read inspires writing …a particular subject…or something that triggers further investigation from reading a particular book…I write to express how I feel about that subject..reading and writing helps me understand life..people…how they think…how they look at life….can’t imagine life without pen and paper….😃
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Kathrine Geoghegan

I usually need a visual prompt. When I’m painting, I’m thinking about what words describe what I’m doing, & often a haiku comes more easily in reaction to the visual work, or indeed a previous visual work. It’s usually a slow process. Then sometimes a haiku comes out of nowhere!

On the other hand, if I’m very busy with non-creative duties, the words won’t come at all!
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Catherine Brennan

I find my day job stiffles my writing. I need time and space to relax and not be tired. I never work on Sunday so I suppose I do write more on Sunday. It was fabulous to be able to write on lockdown as I hadn’t really written before. And I find I love it. It makes me think more and slow down. As with my visual art, I find writing easier when I have something to get off my chest. I lost someone important from my life this year and a lot of the writing probably has to do with that. My muse, if you like. 🤣. As an artist I have found an outlet for the writing incorporated into exhibition with visual art. I don’t read much because I find I would have to finish the book over sleeping and eating . I find now that I’m often thinking about words though. I may have woken at 4am to hot something into my phone notepad. Also carry a book with me to write bits, that get rewritten a few times before being finished or discarded. And I love reading other people’s words.

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Madeleine Basa Vinluan
I’ve always loved all forms of art but writing (creative and technical) is my passion.
I find that a creative mood is the corner of myself where I write best. It’s there waiting for me after a good sleep which lets thoughts and feelings flow smoothly. The world is kind to me; it prompts me to write.
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Tom Peterson 
So many wonderful questions, one though now takes my attention: why are some themes more fruitful for words than others? Moonlight and moth. We had moon or moonlight not so very long ago and moth just a day ago, moon/light near inexhaustible and moth much more difficult for me to come up with anything. So, why? Not just that “moth” might be a bit more specific, or fewer experiences with, it is the degree to which the theme/prompt finds the vein of ore inside, I seem to have much more moon in me than moth, and words like moon take me or put me more in touch with those deposits, the ones that hold what I find most precious.
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Donna Stievater
Our days are numbered
So waste not a single one:
‘Carpe diem’ now.
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Neetu Malik

Writing is meditation for me. I don’t structure my days around it; when I feel the need to shut out the world, I just do. When I feel constrained by limits, I can’t disengage and writing doesn’t happen. Your daily, weekly, seasonal prompts in a vibrant atmosphere help me take brief breaks to compose haiku. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time to write them which helps me with small doses of my “trance time”.

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Colette Rivard Kern 
I am prompted when I walk by whatever I see. I usually take a cell phone photo and then start taking notes on my phone or looking up synonyms, trying out verses. It’s why I generally don’t use the prompts. I ask my sister to read them first because she is a good friend. I worry that my photos are more compelling than my words, but as a beginner I am learning and trying to soak up a lot of knowledge. I have a love hate relationship with social media but try and use it for connection and beauty.
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Diana Bliss
I keep a note pad and pen so that when words come to mind I get them down. Some words never get there.
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Rick Woodward
I have hundreds (no kidding) of notebooks and small pads scattered around. I get up in the middle of the night to finish a haiku that came to me. As far as inspiration – images. They can be real, in a book, online, but it is images that inspire me to write. They may trigger an experience or just be amazing on their own. I can usually be found combing through the public domain or government image files.
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Arlene Malotky

Thank you for this post & your responses. I’ve always journaled for myself, enjoy tech writing, but new to this group & haiku & creative writing. Been wanting to develop more in creative writing, but struggling on how to start. This helps! Thank you.
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Alan Summers

Writing is a sandwich, sometimes it’s the filling, somethings it’s the two layers of bread, sometimes it’s eaten on the run, sometimes it’s eaten while sitting, or walking. What’s your filling? Mine varies. 🙂

 

6 Comments on “Conversation 103: How We Write & What Do We Need”

  1. When I was a child I met Robert Graves, tall great shock of white hair.
    “How do you write a book” said I.
    He looked down at me and replied, ” You write a page a day for a year, and you then have a book that’s 365 pages long*
    I never forgot that, but didn’t always do it. At least not till lock down happened and I have since done just that, and more. I have written two novels, and a dozen short stories, and countless poems by just sitting down and letting the words flow.
    Whether anything gets published, or indeed is worth publication, doesn’t matter. It is the exorcism of the words from me that matters, that cleansing of the soul that counts.
    So how does one write?
    Paper, pen, and just let the story tell itself.

  2. Once I was a cloud ,
    reading the sky aloud.
    Graver than Graves, I read
    how similar bipeds
    created the world anew.
    Within the sky I found
    that similes abound
    and in the thunder rolled
    adjectives uncontrolled.
    I met with Poe, a man
    from Ireland as I am,
    a Poe without a raven
    whose words are very heaven,
    I wish that I wrote as you do
    Exemplary haiku.

  3. As there was a typo in my quote, here’s the correct version, plus an extra! 🙂

    “Writing is a sandwich, sometimes it’s the filling, sometimes it’s the two layers of bread, sometimes it’s eaten on the run, sometimes it’s eaten while sitting, or walking. What’s your filling? Mine varies.” Alan Summers

    Today’s sandwich is pastrami, rye, and lashes of proper hot mustard! Has to be eye-watering!

  4. “My Giant goes with me wherever I go . . .” but sometimes my muse insinuates herself , and nudges my “giant” out of the way, “Move over, Bud, I got some inspiring to do . . .” And so I try to carry my pencil and note book with me wherever I go so that when an idea, phrase, insight or lyrical flash strikes, I am ready . . . I scribble it down before it escapes!

  5. I have been involved in writing official correspondence and a bit of translation only. Creative writing came to me when I found The Daily Haiku and has inspired me in many ways. For one, I have become interested in photography through writing Haiku, now included in my hobbies among many other around around art.

    For writing, I need mind’s image as well as other material images. They inspire and provoke my thoughts. Sometimes my Haiku are of an image I have come across. I enjoy The Daily Haiku because it has a lot of activities to keep us writing. Writing cools me and mind in a quiet way.

    I have never kept a diary or any note book. Writing just cones from the mind and prompts with daily experiences.

    I just found this kind of creative writing rather late, to be honest, I had no interest in poetry whatsoever, I used to think it was a waste of time as I am a sports kind of person.

    But thanks to TDH, a new path has been paved in front of me and I am enjoying it♥!

    H. Yin Mon

  6. Celebrate mornings
    With a new line or new rhyme
    Five days a week

    Dining room table
    Cleared of utensils
    At the computer. No pens

    Some people love me
    Some folk get irritated
    Love those who love me

    The photographer
    Provides images
    My missus makes grat porridge

    Poetry and prose
    Relieve me of my burdens
    I document life

    Her artistic instructions
    Pull out memories
    Once always hidden

    I need to take breaks
    Occassionally holidays
    But I take a pen

    I stain my papers
    With black pen and ink
    Generated by machine

    Only for meters
    100 hundred of them
    My device for holding thoughts

    Tune into rhythms
    Pop world reggae and blues
    Get into the beat

    What comes out comes out
    Does it matter what it is
    Not at first. Later

    Since I wrote grandad
    To tell him ghosts existed
    He said he loved it

    Todays form is good#
    Tomorrow’s better
    What of yesterday

    Too much tele bores
    I become a vegetable
    Me couch potato

    How to keep secrets
    How to be true to my lies
    What stays in or out

    Why shouldn’t I write
    There are so many reasons
    More to write about

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