“Writing” Towards Writing


Yesterday somebody in a writing group I’m working with gave me flowers for helping them – so heart-warming on a cold January afternoon which was supposed to be so-called Blue Monday because of the post-Christmas dip.

That’s media-speak, of course, like Black Friday. January is endless, but we have to resist it, don’t we – not just lean into its grimness. Heartening, too, is Julie Mellor’s recent blog post, where, referencing Eric Maisel’s Fearless Creating , on ways of saying ‘yes’ to our work and not making excuses when we don’t get it done.  She reminds us that, as far as writing is concerned, anything we write down, is writing, whether it is a few notes in a notebook or a complete poem.

We can get so hung up on not writing that it makes us anxious and can block us. In a recent issue of Mslexia, poet Tara Bergin says that to combat the terrible fear of starting a poem, instead of saying “You’re going to write a poem tomorrow”, she leaves post- it notes for herself that say things like, “Read such and such an article and take notes” and other notes reminding her to read different things. This means she’s always got something to do and is not failing because she isn’t compiling an actual poem. I did something like this on the long haul towards my PhD – lots of notes to self on my desk, in books and on my phone.


My insomnia is a thing I don’t necessarily like but have come to accept. so in the particularly fevered early hours of PhD days, I made it a thousand times worse by making visual Insomniascapes on my phone -tiny images of me placed in surreal landscapes, or just the landscapes themselves. These were places I knew and ran or walked around to clear my head or to think more but the various apps made them nightmarish. This was possibly a useful kind of displacement. I’ll never really know. Maybe I ought to write poems to accompany them. Even though I wasn’t writing words there but I was still “writing”. The practice was connected with certain emotional and psychological states and was undoubtedly a creative one which was linked with writing.

Here is a selection so you can see what I mean.

I’ve been listening to Radio 3’s The Essay on the new BBC Sounds app. It’s not particularly easy to navigate but if you scroll right down to nearly the start of them you’ll find the ones under the title, The Darkest Hour where writers such as Margaret Drabble, A.L.Kennedy and Michael Symmonds Roberts talk about writers, writing and insomnia.

Here are some more of my insomniac jottings in a notes app, some of which have found themselves into poems, and still may do.

26th August 2016             05.40

Chandelier of silver fishes, scintillating haul spinning, sharp glint hauled  from no sea other than air.


On April 29th 2017 at 04.14

links to C.D. Wright poems

C D Wright




15th February 2017   21.46    (not early hours but I just love it!)

Christie Hynde

I love living in hotels. It’s my favourite thing to be honest

It represents moving. That you’re always moving

I’m a prize. If no-one wants to pick up on that. Then fuck ’em.

And, of course, I can always open any page of this battered pocket-sized classic and find a line or two that you may have heard many times but found in this way, has a special resonance for the day, place and time you find it.


22nd January 2019       20.25

” Writing has tremendous energy.  If you find  a reason for it, any reason, it seems that rather than negate the act of writing, it makes you burn deeper and glow clearer on the page.” p. 191

How do you “write” towards writing?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. smartrachael says:

    Always, you inspire me!

  2. Pam Thompson says:

    Thank you! Mutual though!x

  3. jaynestanton says:

    Thanks for posting this, Pam. There’s lots to explore here. Wishing you well in your writing life and hope we get to catch up at some point x

  4. Pam Thompson says:

    Thanks, Jayne. I hope all’s well with you. x

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