Lynette over at her blog (http://lynettenoni.wordpress.com/) did this Q&A and encouraged us to think about our own responses. So, to pass the time on a sunny afternoon, I didn’t see why I shouldn’t give this a good go. This ought to help my readers see the writer side of me, and to see an insight into my life. So, enjoy!
1. Where do you write?
Call me clichéd, but I love writing in coffee shops. It gives me ample opportunity to people watch (a favourite sport of mine!), drink good coffee, and get my focus on my writing rather than on everything else around me. That said, I now have started to carry my trusty fountain pen and a notebook in my handbag now, so whenever a poem comes to mind, I can whip out my writing equipment and jot it down before I forget it. I like writing outside too, in the sunshine with a drink in one hand, pen and paper in the other.
2. What are your writing habits?
I like to drink fizzy pop if I’m writing at home, in the late hours, with cola being my drink of choice. I’ll drink all sorts of types of tea as well, although I’ve gotten back into coffee after two years of hating the stuff (I take it milky with a LOT of sugar). I also like to have a bowl of sugary snacks next to the PC, so I nibble and pick whilst I’m writing. Sherbert lemons are a favourite during all-nighters, whilst during the day I quite like jelly beans. Sometimes I shake things up and buy Doritos…
I write in solid bursts for 20 minutes, and take breaks for 10 minutes. It’s how lawyers get through all their paperwork, and how me and my friends work when we meet up for a study session. I like it because you race to get as much on the page as possible, before clearing your head for 10 minutes, and getting back to work. You don’t frazzle your brain, and you get more done! Result!
3. How do you write your first drafts?
When I’m writing poetry, I tend to hand draft it first, and type it up later. I find that when you go back to type up a poem later, you sometimes end up adding or taking words away, adding or taking lines away. I even once added a whole new stanza into a poem during the type-up. When I’m writing short stories, I take a similar approach, but when writing longer stories/novels, I write notes about what I want to happen in each chapter, much like a flow-chart, then write it straight onto the computer. Sometimes the plot will take control and deviate from the chart, but most of the time I write ‘the bare bones’, then go back later if something happens later on that I should add into the previous chapter.
4. Which writers have most influenced you or inspired you?
In my early teens, I would of said Jane Austen. My first NaNoWriMo was an attempt at Regency Romance, which failed miserably. But as I’ve been at university, and been able to meet writers, and listen and read a wider variety of work, I’ve realised that recently I’ve been influenced by Allen Ginsburg, and Jack Kerouac, two of the Beat Generation writers, writing experimental poetry and prose, pushing literary boundaries and changing the way that we see literature. Sometimes, though, I’m inspired more by individual works rather than writers as a whole. I loved The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, who won the Costa 2013 Prize with it, and now teaches at my university, which was about a nineteen year old man living with mental health issues, writing his story. I loved the way that professional paperwork weaved into the protagonist’s own writing, and the use of different fonts to show that he was writing in different formats. This would be something I’ll attempt in the future. Another book series I’m obsessed with is C.J Sansom’s Shardlake series. These five novels, set in Henry VIII’s England, are thriller-mysteries involving a hunchback lawyer, Matthew Shardlake solving mysteries involving the politics of the day, all whilst living in a turbulent age. It’s a relief from all the historical romances out there, all the Philippa Gregory novels that actually irritate the heck out of me for not being properly accurate (I worked in a Tudor museum as a tour guide for a while, so hate inaccuracy about the period). And romance novels when not read on holiday, make me want to vomit. Just saying. So C.J Sansom (who is also a lovely guy, I met him whilst on the job!), has inspired me to try my hand at historical writing.
5. What genre(s) do you (aspire to) write?
I’m currently dabbling in writing historical fiction. I also enjoy experimental writing, both poetry and prose (I seem to be better at experimental poetry). I would like to attempt fantasy again, after writing a fantasy novel aged 17, and re-reading it and cringing at the Mary Sue characters, terrible clichéd plots and over complicated story lines, I might give it another go.
6. What’s your biggest challenge as a writer?
Writer’s Block. I also have issues with worrying that my work isn’t good enough, that it is badly written, or that the plot doesn’t flow right, or the character’s speech being wrong. I worry about inaccuracy, especially when I’m writing historical fiction, so spend way too much time googling everything rather than actually writing.
7. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t be afraid of criticism, as long as it’s constructive. And never, I mean, NEVER allow non-writer friends or your partner read your WIP, as you’ll only get glowing reports, which is actually more destructive than someone telling you that certain things just don’t work. I have a couple of close writer friends at university who I let look over any work that I might submit at university for feedback, because they are honest, and straight with me. Leave work for a few weeks without reading it, then re-read it with fresh eyes, as then you are more likely to see flaws in plot, construction, etc, and feel more ready to edit. Writing is re-writing, but never do it alone. I tend to do my re-writing with my friends, for support and kicking up the ass when someone puts a cool Youtube video up that I struggle to resist watching.
And enjoy it! Don’t carry on writing something your heart isn’t in, you should be enjoying your work, feeling passionate about what you are writing. Or, if you’re writing to a brief, find a subject in that brief you feel you can enjoy writing about, for whatever reason.
And, on that note, I’d love to hear your responses to this! I’ll be going back to writing the rest of this short story now, and get it sent off for feedback. That’s if I’m not watching cute cat videos…