Sunday, 16 March 2014

My Writing Process

Some of you have come across the 'My Writing Process' blog-tour thingy. And Val Poore has passed the baton to me - so now it's my turn to think about it. (You can read her lovely blog here)

1. What am I working on?
I'm trying to unpick a narrative from all the scribbles I made while I was in Cuba. It's a complicated process, and I'm not sure I understand how it works. But somehow just thinking about it all, and maybe writing a bit here and a bit there, enables my 'unconscious' (for want of a better term) to work out the story.
And then - with luck and a following wind - I'll have another ebook in the Over the Hill series.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Travel writers come in all shapes and sizes - and so what we see and think about will be different. Young people might write about surfing, or nightclubs, or cars. Some will pay more attention to place - and write poetically about the rhythm of the train on the Trans-Siberian Railway, or negotiating the backwaters of Kerala. Others openly write about themselves in the place - their work becomes a dialogue between memoir and travel; I sit more comfortably in this category.
For every writer brings personal experience. I travel as an older, white, woman - but I'm no Dervla Murphy. I'll never cross the Atlas mountains on a donkey. Instead I bumble about the place, and somehow find stories in the bumbling.

3. Why do I write what I do?
It was all a bit of an accident. I came home from a long trip (I went for a year) thinking I'd weave short stories from my travelling notes. Then I won a place on a mentoring scheme at Exeter University and my mentor persuaded me that I was strongest when I wrote about myself.
So I did. And still do (some of the time. I have been known to play with fiction from time to time.)

4. How does your writing process work?
It's a bit fanciful to describe what I do as a 'process.' 
I'm never far from a notebook. But sometimes I use it more than others. There are days when ideas seem to fall over each other; and other days when I think of nothing more exciting than remembering to buy milk.
I ought to write regularly, every day. In practice, I fit it in with all the other wonderful things I do - playing with grandchildren, singing in a choir, walking in the forest, sitting in the garden drinking wine with a neighbour. Which makes it sound as if writing is an afterthought - and it's not. It's simply part of who I am - I love it. I still get fluttery when I sit at the computer. But there's no rhythm to how I write, no routine.

Not a great example for anyone to follow. But it works for me.


  1. Lovely to read this Jo. I like that idea that writing is part of what you are and what you do. It makes it sound very natural, which is how your writing always feels too! Thanks for doing this. I'm enjoying the series.

  2. I'm not sure I have a process except to say that I don't think too hard about the process lest it should disappear. I have to admit to a lot of sitting thinking, letting ideas cogitate, a bit like you're doing with your notes from your Cuba trip.

  3. Writing is a very individual activity. That's why I half-agreed with Hanif Kureishi recently when he talked about creative writing courses. I don't agree with the words he used or the way he described them but I do think that trying to tame the wild beats that lies dormant in us and which comes out in our writing process is not, in the long term, a strategy I would like to adopt. You have to let the beast run, and if it takes you to places you didn't know existed, so be it.

    Greetings from London.