Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Getting the 'writing feeling' by Miriam Halahmy

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?’


Mariam Kobras said...

It's always there, but somehow I see my stories most clearly when I'm in the shower. It's as if all that warm water washed away the daily cares and leaves my mind empty for the writing. :)

Liz de Jager said...

Quiet time i.e. doing ironing just before of a shirt / skirt to wear the next day to work. Walking the dog in the park - it's like my brain gets downtime and takes a breath and with that breath ideas and thoughts come. Also: sitting on the train, plugged into my ipod, listening to classical music. It triggers a different kind of response.

Jane McLoughlin said...

A lovely post, Miriam. Quiet train journeys or a walk along the seafront usually do it for well as the times when I should be doing something else, like cleaning the bathroom or decorating the hall!

Carole Anne Carr said...

So difficult to answer, only limited by the amount of strength I have, but as Mariam says, that feeling is always there. :0)

Louise Cliffe-Minns said...

Great post. Arvo Part for me, always.

Rosie Best said...

Miriam, I'm quite shocked at how accurate this description is! This is exactly how it feels for me too. Unfortunately I agree with Jane, my writing feeling comes most often when I'm supposed to be doing something else. At work, or on the Tube when I should be getting some reading done...

Miriam Halahmy said...

Its wonderful reading all your responses to this - it really is a universal thing for us writers! Excellent!

alex.woolf said...

This all rings very true to me. It's often a piece of music or a walk that sets my imagination going, or a snippet of something someone's said or written that I feel merits further exploration. I too began writing before I could hold a pen - playing games with soldiers in the attic. I only realised later I was creating stories in my head.

Sue Hyams said...

Places! Setting so often sparks a story idea for me. I don't know whether it's the history of the place, the atmosphere, or just being somewhere different but it definitely works!