Friday, June 20, 2008

Writing Do's and Don't's

I'm a bit confused because I thought it was Susannah who challenged me to a Do and Don't meme, but I can't find it now on her site - although it was a pleasure looking through her old posts as always. She has a ... delicious... blog. It's the best word I can find for it. I wish it were a book. I'd just flick through it again and again. Anyway, apologies to whoever did challenge me, and also thanks because I did enjoy doing this. Here are my writing Do's and Don't's:

I do write when I feel there are people who want to listen to what I have to say.
I don’t write when I feel people are waiting to pounce on me and tell me I don’t make sense.

I do write when I understand that the above fear is coming from me, and I really don’t care what other people think if I’m writing what I want to write.
I don’t write when I start worrying what my mother in law will think.

I do write when I’m listening to certain types of music.
I don’t write when there’s too much noise coming from outside.

I do write the more I write.
I don’t write when I get out of the habit – frighteningly easy to do.

I do write when I can sit still in public places. Libraries are good for me.
I don’t write when I’m on the move and worrying about tickets etc.

I do write when I’ve had some kind of physical exercise. Fast walking is best.
I don’t write when I’ve done nothing but sit all day and am feeling blurgh.

I do write when I’m writing something I’d like to read myself.
I don’t write when I can’t think myself into a character.

I do write when I have time to meditate.
I don’t write when my mind is rushing around with lists of things-to-do.

I do write when I have space to potter before I get down to it.
I don’t write when I only have half an hour to get on with it.

I do write when I’m happy.
I don’t write when I’m angry.

I do write if I have chocolate to nibble on.
I don’t write when I’ve gobbled too much chocolate.

I do write when I have a view to stare out at.
I don’t write when I’m sitting too close to a wall.

I do write after I’ve been reading authors who inspire me. Current favourites are Lydia Davis and Marilyn Hacker.
I don’t write when I don’t have a good book on the go.

I do write after I fill myself with interesting facts about things that inspire me. Anything to do with public spaces and gardens at the moment.
I don’t write when I slip into hermit-mode and I’ve forgotten to go out and talk to people or look at things.

I do write after I’ve been to see live bands – or even watch their videos.
I don’t write after an evening slobbing on the sofa.

I do write after I’ve been to see an inspiring exhibition.
I don’t write after a day trailing my daughter round her shops.

I do write after I’ve been teaching.
I don’t write after I’ve read too many student essays.

I do write after I’ve been looking at blogs like Susannah's or BB’s
I don’t write after I’ve been stuck too long on the internet, losing yet another game of Facebook scramble.

I do write when I can slot random things together and make a whole.
I don’t write when I get too clever and distance myself from the centre of the piece I’m working on.

I do write after I’ve spent some time with creative friends
I don’t write after I feel I’ve wasted too much time doing things I don’t want to do.

I do write after some time taking photographs and thinking about framing things.
I don’t write when I get too much of other people’s visions and can’t catch sight of mine any more.

I do write when I have someone I can talk to safely about what I’m writing about.
I don’t write when I’ve spent too long keeping my work close to my chest.

I do write when I let myself go and have fun.
I don’t write when I’m too self-conscious.

I do write after going to poetry readings.
I don’t write when I’m nervous about having to do a reading myself.

I do write after a nice glass of wine.
I don’t write after a nice bottle of wine.

I do write after I can dance round my writing studio before sitting down.
I don’t write after I can’t remember why anyone would ever want to dance.

I was surprised how much fun it was to write these, but also how many of the 'Don't's' (phew, what a lot of apostrophes, is that right? Any grammar geeks around?) I slip into far too often. It's almost as if I'm sabotaging myself sometimes. So now I'm off to an exhibition and a fast walk, nibbling chocolate as I listen to music on my ipod. If anyone else wants to make a list of things that make them write - or not - I'd love to see it.


Lane said...

What a great meme and I can relate to just about all your do's and don'ts. ( I think it's don'ts.)
Can't write with music on though. I wish could:-)

Might just have to give this one a go:-)

Tania Hershman said...

Excellent meme, such interesting responses, Sarah. I don't write with music, and I don't write with views, but I do write with a wall, and I do write in public places with white noise. Ooh, might just do this myself. I have a wonderful image of you dancing!

Nik's Blog said...

Yes, I think Carlsberg made that meme! Really enjoyed reading that.

Interesting to see you don't write when you're nervous or angry; sometimes they're the times when I come up with good story ideas (though they're usually scribbled as rather abstract prompts to be made into stories later).


Sarah Salway said...

Oh goodie, let me know if you do it, Lane and Tania. Nik?
I find music - the right kind - is a very quick way back into a piece of work for me. Something to do with the rhythm and voice I think.
Tania - we'd hopeless at writing together. At least we could dance!

Kathryn said...

I am so glad I read this today when I did. It made me think about why I write in the first place. I stopped worrying about everything and just wrote something for the fun of it. Also, thank you for your daily prompts too - they've been a great source of inspiration.

Sarah Salway said...

Yep, Kathryn, I forget that writing can be fun too sometimes! Too many shoulds around.

bummble said...

Ooooh, that's a great list!
And since so many of your dos and don'ts match mine, I think I'll print it out and use it as a Guide for Life for a while...

Indeed, frighteningly easy to slip back into non-writing mode!

Sarah Salway said...

Guide for life...????? Have you read A M Homes's story about the day they give out the information at school on how to live, and she's off sick. It's very funny. Welcome bummble. Nice to see you here.

SueG said...

These are great, Sarah! Thanks. For me the ones that really resonate are #s 4, 8, 9, 17 -- I lost count -- but also the one about quatities of wine!

Clare said...

I've done it here here