Poetry · Questionnaire · Writing

Self As Writer: Questionnaire

This questionnaire was created by Jenny Spencer from the University of Massachusetts Amherst; it can be found here.

  • Where do you usually write?

I usually write anywhere I can. I carry a small notebook around with me at all times for poems, and I usually carry around the larger notebook/journal I use for my current project(s). (I pick my purses based on how many books/journals I can fit in them!)

  • What’s different about where you wrote last year and where you write this year?

I usually write in my bedroom; however, I have moved within the past year, so my bedroom is different. My old laptop is not working anymore, so that’s a new aspect of my writing environment, as well.

  • Describe the circumstances that lead to your best writing.

I need silence or instrumental music. I need an outline that clearly defines where the characters are, when, and why. I also need a long amount of time to write, so I can get down as much as I can.

  • What kinds of writing materials do you use (i.e.: computer, long hand, special pen)?

I do have my favorite pens, but those change as ink runs out. For poetry, I write the verses in a small notebook, where I feel free to scribble and scratch out and edit; when I feel the poem is complete, I write it in my poetry journal. For novellas and novels, I write the story by hand and edit as I go, then I edit again as I type it up. It’s a longer process, but it also gives me an extra chance to really look at what I’m saying.

  • How do you come up with topics?

For my blog, I come up with topics that I feel readers would want to read. For poetry, I use the moment synthesized with the past, along with my favorite imagery. For novels and novellas, I draw from past experiences and how they would play out, similarly or differently, in other worlds.

  • How many times do you revise?

I will revise as many times as necessary. A first draft is never perfect. When I finish the first draft, I give it a read-through and correct any spelling/grammar/punctuation errors. I then read it again for plot and character development. By this time, the main idea, and everything I wanted to happen, is on paper, and I send it to friends who are willing to look at it objectively and without bias.

  • What part of a paper do you tend to find most difficult?

I find the middle to be the most difficult part. I always write the beginning first, as that is the point to engage the reader. I then skip around and write a portion of the middle and the end. Filling in the middle blanks are the hardest for me, as I am thinking of potential foreshadowing or referencing, as well as keeping a timeline intact.

  • What are your writing rituals? What do you do to get ready to write?

I always develop an outline of the main points of my story. Then I detail the main points and everything that happens in between. This way, I know how my story will look, when. I then make a playlist to listen to based on the story. I will listen to this playlist even when in the car, to come up with new ideas for the story and characters. I imagine my characters in various scenarios to see how they would react to certain situations.

  • What do you do when you’re stuck?

When stuck, I usually write a different part of the story. If I get stuck while writing the beginning, I will write the end. If I get stuck after writing the end, I write a piece of the middle. After I write the piece of the middle, I connect the beginning to the piece of the middle, then the piece of the middle to the end.

  • What have people said about your writing?

I’m skipping this question, as most readers have been friends or family, or those who have read my angsty teenage poetry. However, I received a positive response from dancing girl press, as my first chapbook, Tableau Vivant, will be released in the fall of this year.


7 thoughts on “Self As Writer: Questionnaire

  1. Love this! Love questions. This one made me think: Describe the circumstances that lead to your best writing. May I link to this post when I write about it?


  2. My way to start a story is to have a just a small premise or an opening scene, and see what goes from there. I always let the story first get out of control. I’ll have the editing make sure it’s good, but first of all I want to put all the ideas on paper.

    Liked by 1 person

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