By Shanelle Scheun
As a writer, I am always fascinated by the habits of other writers. The writing routines and sources of inspiration of women writers especially captivate my imagination. As Adrienne Rich put it:
‘“The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.”
The daily routines of authors vary greatly, from the weird to the absurd. Agatha Christie wrote some of her best work while eating apples in the bathtub, Virginia Woolf preferred to work while standing up, Maya Angelou booked herself into a hotel room in her hometown to write, and Toni Morrison cannot start her daily writing without first checking the dumpsters in her town for the body of Amelia Earhart . This all sounds very peculiar, romantic and somewhat idealistic, and one can easily forget that writing is far from a dreamy laidback endeavour. To quote Rich again:
“To write as if your life depended on it; to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence-- words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.”
This would make any sane person wonder why anyone would want to take up writing, and this is precisely the question I decided to ask some contemporary women writers who publish their work through Instagram. Traditionally writing has always been male-dominated, and many women adopted male pseudonyms in order to be taken seriously. Today, one of the easiest and fastest ways for writers to present their work to a large audience is through Instagram, which makes the process even more daunting, seeing as thoughts and words are instantly on display for potential ridicule. I approached a few women writers on this platform to find out what drives them, what inspires them, and what advice they have for those who have dared to venture into the world of writing.
WHY AND WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FORM OF WRITING AND WHY?
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TIME TO WRITE, AND DO YOU WRITE EVERY DAY?
WHAT INSPIRES YOU/WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'VE EVOLVED CREATIVELY?
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WRITING?
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER'S BLOCK AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO GET PAST IT?
ANY TIPS FOR ASPIRING/NEW WRITERS?
I hope you’ve enjoyed journeying into the minds of fellow writers just as much as I have. Conducting these interviews has made me realise how wonderfully unique, yet the same, we all are. Thank you to each and every lady who participated. And finally I would like to leave you with a piece of writing from each of their Instagram accounts which speak for themselves: Write from the gut, as if your life depended on it!
About the author
I am Shanelle Scheun, 36, from South Africa. I have a BA degree in International Politics and currently work in the biodiversity sector. To me writing has always been a means of discovering life truths; and sharing our mostly fragile human condition. I believe the true magic of poetry lies in the ability of the poet to captivate an audience while at the same time leaving the freedom of interpretation and association to the reader.