When I give talks, in schools I am always asked, “When did you start writing?” My answer is always the same, “I was writing before I could hold a pen.” Writing has always started with a feeling for me and I've had that feeling since early childhood. I loved to climb as a child and would often take a notebook and pen and sit high up in a tree, staring into space, in touch with my ‘writing feeling’.
My writing feeling starts deep in my middle, somewhere in the abdomen and it gives me an inward, reflective, feeling which signals that I want... no need ... to find a space to write and something to write on; back of an envelope, paper napkin, a corner of my daughter’s Polly Pocket notebook, whatever. It usually evokes the need for pen and paper but these days it can be satisfied sitting at a laptop.
The writing feeling cannot be ignored and anyway, it is so precious, I can’t imagine flicking it away. If there is no opportunity to write (difficult when you are changing a nappy or taking a shower) then I let it grow and fill my mind and take me on a walk to wherever the creative urge needs to go.
Picking up a pen for any reason can suddenly and without warning, evoke the writing feeling, so that the very act of writing – eggs, bread, three onions, green tea, small pack of mince - can feel like the lines of a poem. This is the beauty and the glory of the writing feeling. It doesn't mean you are about to write your masterpiece. It may not come during the writing of Chapter 10 because you are in total ‘struggle mode’ and your precious ‘feeling’ has buried itself that morning. But when it comes it comes with a great flood and great desire.
The certainty for me and I know for many others too, is that the writing feeling will never desert me, it will be there when it is there and it is the drive to write which has lived with me since before I was three years old (the age I started to read independently).
I asked writer friends on Facebook: What gives you that writing feeling?
Here are some of their responses:
Anna Wilson : whatever it is I go all tingly
Cari Rosen : swimming
Wendy Meddour : bed and darkness, unfortunately
Non Pratt : songs
Denyse Kirkby : Music and a strong cup of tea. I can’t write when I'm running because I run to clear my mind.
How about you? What gives you that ‘writing feeling?’