Writing process, Jennifer

When ‘writing process’ was first mentioned, I thought it meant how you put sentences together, how you might start with rough notes and turn them into a carefully crafted story. I see now that it can be considered in a broader way: how do you go about writing?


Discipline is tremendously important for me. I think it comes from a life of having music practice hanging over me. Sometimes ‘hanging’, sometimes something that I passionately wanted to do. But I’ve always had to fit it into my life – somehow. How could I fit writing into my life?

It was very hard until I decided to cut my paid working hours from full time to three days a week. This gave me two precious days a week for writing. I treated it as another job that I do on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So, when friends asked, which are your days ‘off’? I would say, I don’t have any days off. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I write. I make sure that I’m at my desk by 9 am – usually much earlier. If a friend wants to meet for lunch on one of these days I work at the Public Library and we meet at a café near there, for just an hour – like a lunch hour.

I spend most of my ‘writing’ time sitting at my laptop. For me it is a kind of tactile process. Moving the fingers on the keys seems to stimulate my brain! But I walk a lot, usually alone, and I ‘write’ then – imagining my characters, having conversations with them. Ideally, I start a writing day with a 45 minute walk, much of it along the waterfront.

How do you get started? I always need something to latch onto – it can be the tiniest phrase, maybe even a word, a fragment of an idea, a snatch of conversation. The idea for my novel came from a piece of music. When I’m working on something substantial I like to go back over the last bit I wrote – there is always a temptation to go back to the beginning. As Paul Mitchell once said in a workshop, it’s like the tide going in an out: you are drawn back with the current to edit yesterday’s work and from there you wash forward into something new. I like editing – trying to get the story just right, trying it this way and that, picking away like a dog at a bone.

Jennifer’s impressions from the first day of the Adelaide Writers’ Festival, Saturday 27th Feb

Two sessions on the first day of the festival were of particular interest for me because they dealt with that bridge between what we classify as ‘fiction’ and ‘non fiction’ in relation to telling the stories of family members who are no longer alive. Are we ‘thieves’? Whose stories are they?

Patrick Gale, an English novelist was interviewed about his recent book, ‘A Place Called Winter’. It is clearly considered to be ‘fiction’. The main character, Harry, is based on Gale’s great grandfather. Gale read a passage from it that started dramatically with a wet dream – certainly a good way of grabbing our attention! Continue reading “Jennifer’s impressions from the first day of the Adelaide Writers’ Festival, Saturday 27th Feb”