How do you start to write? Perhaps it’s best not to analyse this question too closely. There’s often an element of mystery. If I read poetry, listen to poems, have conversations about poetry and attend poetry readings, I’m more likely to find words arriving in search of a poem. Marion Milner, in ‘A Life of One’s Own’, talks about moving from ‘narrow to wide attention’, and says ‘The act of looking was somehow a force in itself which changed my whole being’. Certainly, paying attention to the outside world can trigger creativity. All the poets who responded to this question mentioned external stimuli, mainly walks, and also driving. Mavis Gulliver says ‘Very occasionally, words come to me when I’m out walking’, and Judith Blakemore-Lawton says ‘Generally, I just feel a poem coming – prompted by perhaps a sense of warmth and contentment or an urge to ‘describe’ an idyllic interlude.’
However, there were mixed opinions on whether deadlines were helpful. Juliet Wilson, who reviews books, says ‘If I’m writing a review for another website (other than her own blogs, ‘Bolts of Silk’ or ‘Crafty Green Poet’) it’s usually to a deadline.’ Chris Kinsey, whose collection ‘Swarf’ is forthcoming from Smokestack Books, says ‘I work best when I feel I have plenty of time’. For myself, it depends upon the circumstances: when I’m at a writing workshop, I draw on the energy of having other writers in the room to push myself to write a first draft or a freewrite in the alloted time. If I’m writing in a coffee shop, I give myself a time limit. But if I’m working on a poem at home, I like the freedom of being able to put my notebook down (or switch my computer off) to pick up (or switch on) at a later time.
Tomorrow: Where do you write?