The 5 writing Questions by guest author Susan Barnard

Susan Barnard is not only a gifted author in her own right, but she is also an editor of great patience, insight and lightness of touch. For all these reasons I am thrilled to have her visit my blog today to discuss her writing habits.

WHEN? I don’t have a set writing routine. Some writers do, but I can’t just sit down and write to order – and spending ages staring at a blank screen or a blank sheet of paper is, frankly, very dispiriting.

Having said that, my writing mind is never off duty. I often get some of my best ideas when I’m away from my desk: gardening, sorting the laundry, cooking, mowing the lawn, out walking, or listening to music. Sometimes the solution to a writing dilemma has come to mind when I’ve been at a concert, and on one occasion a complete stanza of a poem arrived, fully-formed, whilst I was sitting in a traffic jam.

HOW? I make notes by hand or on my iPad, but my main writing is done on my trusty laptop. I used to feel that every sentence had to be perfect right from the word Go, but now I’m much more flexible: I concentrate on getting the words down first, without worrying too much about the style or content, then fine-tune them afterwards. You can always go back later and edit what you’ve written, but you can’t edit a blank page.

WHY? Someone asked me recently: “What would you do if you weren’t writing?” My answer was “Pushing up the daisies”. I can’t imagine a life without writing.

WHERE? In winter, my desk is in a corner of our front room. In summer, it’s in the conservatory. If the weather is really good I sometimes take my writing out into the garden – though in the latter case the potential for getting distracted (either by watching the birds or seeing something that needs doing to the plants) is much greater…

WHAT? I write novels (I have five published and am currently working on a sixth), short stories, poems, articles, and the occasional stroppy letter to the Radio Times. I also edit books for other writers. Not to mention shopping lists, to-do lists, lists of ideas, and long lists of words that rhyme. My life is governed by lists. That’s how sad I am…

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