Me and My Writing by guest author Joy Rhoades
I am delighted that author Joy Rhoades has made time to visit my blog today to share her tips on writing I’ve always loved words, and books and writing and I always to be a writer, but that plan was derailed early on and instead, and I became for a while, a lawyer. But the need to write, the urge to write, never went away. Always, I was scribbling, working on something, and eventually, I was taking classes at night in writing and working on I novel, the novel that would become The Woolgrower’s Companion.
I’m now lucky enough to write fulltime. And I also teach creative writing as a volunteer at London libraries. I’m passionate about encouraging people to write, and to work on their craft of writing, because I know from my own experience the enormous impact continued creative practice can have not just on the quality of your writing, but also, wonderfully, on mental health.
And so my first tip for writers and people wanting to write: write regularly.
It can be extraordinarily difficult to do that because ordinary, everyday life interferes and colludes to prevent the doing of anything which is extra, extraneous to getting through each day, getting through work, washing, food and general keeping of the household on the road.
So my suggestion to people is to find time in your day that would otherwise be “dead time“. What I mean by “dead time,“ is time which you will not miss if you spend it doing something else, for example, writing. So for me, for a long time, I really didn’t watch TV. At all. Because TV time I could dispense with, in pursuit of my writing instead.
The other time that I found when I could write, or certainly edit, was on my commute. So on my journey into work on the London tube, I would always try to take a couple of pages, double-spaced, printed out from my WIP. I would “edit“ that and the simple act of regularly looking at my writing, maybe three or sometimes four times a week on the way into work, kept it fresh in my head and of course, I was able to make changes with any pen I happened to have with me. So that regular “writing“ – i.e. while the rest of the family was watching TV, and when I was on my commute, on my way into work, meant that I was adding an hour or more of “writing time“ in an otherwise packed schedule.
These tiny bits of writing, these minutes, cobbled together, became something much more than that. Because not only did it mean that I was adding to the amount I was writing, there was this additional unintended consequence of making me feel so much better. I think it was extraordinary, this positive impact on my mental health, of just a few minutes a day of doing something that I love – writing.
So my Tip Number One for people who want to learn to write is write regularly. Find a time and do it as often as you can and don’t beat yourself up when you miss a day or even a week it’s okay, you’ll get back to it. Keep writing.
I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.
I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.
I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.