I literally blogged once here in 2014. It’s fair to say that over the last few years, personal blogging has become far less a part of my writing process. Perhaps part of it was when I moved away from full-time work into full-time study as an office job and regular blogging seemed to go hand in hand. There’s also been a shift in my writing process in the form of less long-form writing, much more poetry. I’ve basically stopped writing fictional prose all together, culminating in me ditching a novel project that was part of the second year of my Creative Writing degree. My main writing consists of poetry, primarily spoken word and for performance, as well non-fiction. Many of the storytelling elements I’ve honed through fictional prose though still remains in my current work, especially the flash fiction I used to write.
But it’s fair to say, and the reason I’m writing this post, that my writing process in general has considerably slowed and deteriorated. I’m not writing regularly which is frustrating, and even more so when I ‘need to write’ like when I need to write something for uni, or for an upcoming gig. I certainly still have time to write. I mean, sometimes things get busy or I get particularly good at procrastinating or fucking around and not doing much, but other times I am productive, just not in producing my own work.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes in my writing process is the creation of Melbourne Spoken Word. Aside from moving from work to study and taking on more activist and political work, MSW is a really fulfilling and great project that I’ve been working with for the past two years. Organising gigs, editing and running the website, plus a whole heap of other stuff takes time and mental energy that can often mean your own writing loses out. Sometimes it can feel like I am being productive in the areas of poetry and so it’s easier not to worry about my own writing, where as if I wasn’t doing any of that, and just busy with other stuff, then I would feel much more that I wasn’t working on writing. Because of MSW, I haven’t noticed my process deteriorating as much.
At the start of the year, Michelle Dabrowski, the creator and energy behind one of Melbourne’s best spoken word events, Slamalamadingdong announced a hiatus until June and part of that was a similar thing, running a slam ate into her ability to focus on her own writing. This is something I could definitely relate to whilst I’m not about to put MSW on hiatus. I’ve tried to slowly create ways of running an organisation meant to serve and nurture spoken word which includes not just supporting existing gigs and avenues for publication, but the actual writing of spoken word, helping to actually produce performance pieces.
In months past, we’ve run casual writing workshops at Under the Hammer. It’s just poets all together in a room, and we write based on prompts. We start with like 15 minutes of freewriting, just write flat chat, no stopping for 15 minutes straight without second guessing yourself, no deleting, no editing, and it kind of empties out your writing pores and from there, we work on each prompt for ten or fifteen minutes, writing poems, just experimenting and writing without as much pressure that this poem be a really great piece. Some pieces out of it you like and do something with, some pieces you file away and probably don’t look at again. But at the end of a couple of hours, you end up with a bunch of writing. We definitely want to do this again.
Blogging was a major part of my regular writing practice in the past and I think I need to return to it. It was the regular act of writing, and sometimes I included poetry in there, but as I began to pitch non-fiction articles to places like Overland that would’ve gone into the blog, it’s dried up. But writing about my process, mostly for myself, in a longer form than on Facebook or Twitter was useful and something I miss. Perhaps others would get something out of it too. I also used to post monthly goals that used to keep me on target, that maybe I should return to.
But the main thing is returning to a practice of regular writing, and writing a lot more without it’s end point or success in mind. I’m sure others poets do that. They don’t read everything they write on an open mic. Or just once or twice and it doesn’t come back. Keen to hear others and how their poetic process works. Do people do a lot of freewriting, workshops or journaling?
One thing that’s going to kick off this new process is ‘The Dirty Thirty Poetry Month,’ where the goal is write a poem a day for the month of April, with daily prompts to help write about things I usually wouldn’t and kickstart pieces. It’s run on Facebook as a group by Melbourne poet Abdul Hammoud and I plan to try and write something every day and might post some on this blog, or my own Facebook profile.
There are some parts of what I’ve learnt in doing MSW that can help with my own writing. Such as writing away from home, and working in cafes or at uni between classes. There’s nice writing spaces in the building I study in, big iMacs to work on if I want a break from the laptop. There’s less temptation to procrastinate or fuck around when away from home, with things like PlayStation at home. Except for Fridays, when I’m almost always at home and my partner also works from home so working in the study too can sometimes make me more productive, I just need to remember that writing something is one of those things as well as responding to emails, managing the website and social media etc. even if it is just freewriting or writing something for fun.
Once the challenge and freewriting sort themselves out, I might start the monthly goals again and see how blogging improves my process, plus a bunch of others things to focus me.