Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
I work anywhere I get a chance to work. I’m most comfortable at my desk or curled up somewhere cosy with my laptop, but if I need to get away from noise or distraction, libraries are my next favourite places, followed by coffee shops. I used to feel I needed a quiet house and a particular desk to work, but I didn’t get nearly as much writing done in those days!
What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
I usually write on a computer because I like to feel free to edit, cut, rearrange and otherwise dramatically alter text, safe in the knowledge that I can always revert to an earlier draft. When out and about, however, I always keep a notebook and pen on hand, just in case. I often use one of those retractable pens with four different colours of ink, so that I can edit, scribble and make notes on my manuscripts.
What is your routine for writing?
I set aside as much time as I can for writing and editing. If I’ve set aside time, I make myself sit down and try to work, whether or not I feel inspired. (The words almost always come eventually, even if it feels impossible at the beginning of a session.) I carry around a list of small things I want to accomplish—a scene, an outline, an edit, a writing exercise—so that I can make full use of small, unexpected fragments of time that may appear during the day.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
Apparently, I wrote my first book at around five years old: it was a how-to manual for avoiding bedtime. I’ve been writing in some form or other most of my life and studied creative writing at university (before switching tracks entirely), but I didn’t start sending work out until three years ago, after my daughter was born. At that point, I decided to pull up my socks and treat writing as a vocation rather than a hobby, and I’ve been writing and submitting diligently ever since.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
I tend to write what I want to write, edit until I’m happy, and only worry about matching the finished piece to a potential audience when I’m trying to find a place to submit it. As such, I’ve ended up writing everything from traditional genre pieces to some rather crazy experiments. If a piece is well written and carefully edited, I figure there will almost certainly be a home for it somewhere, sometime. Occasionally, I’ve written a piece in response to a journal’s prompt, but almost always, the resulting piece ends up somewhere else.
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
I am inspired by lack of time. I have so many things I want to write, that if I have the time, I’m driven to try to get some of the stuff in my head down on paper. If I don’t have the time, I try to make it. I rarely feel completely blocked, but if I’m not in the mood or writing is slow on one project, I either work on something else or simply force myself to write through the slowness. For me, if I sit at my computer and type for long enough, I almost always end up with at least the seeds of something that can be developed.
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
I like programming, the game of go, cryptic crosswords, designing puzzles and going on adventures with my daughter. I’ve also started strength training and can now deadlift 100kg—and counting.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Once in a great while, words flow and a piece springs onto the page nearly fully formed. When this happens, it’s absolutely exhilarating…there’s nothing like it. However, most of the time, I spend a lot of time writing my way into a piece, out of problems, and around what it is I later discover that I’m trying to write about. Once I have a mess of words on the page, I can start editing, and this is often a fun, creative, playful process. That first edit—when a story or poem starts clawing its way out of a jumble of words—is probably my favourite part of my creative process when I’m not in that rare magic writing zone.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Edit a lot. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Don’t wait until the time is right to do these things; life is always busy and messy, and there will probably never be a better time to write than now. Sit down, do it, and don’t give up when it’s hard; sometimes you need to push a lot of text onto the page in order to make the magic to happen. Just keep writing. The dishes can wait.
Check out Ingrid’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.
Check out Ingrid’s work in Volume