Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your daily writing and/or artistic rituals? How do you prepare your space for these activities?
Linda Addison: I love to have either incense or scented candle burning. Often I like to have music in the background, usually without vocals. Miles Davis is one of my favorites. Although working on a SF novel, I’m loving the soundtrack from the movie Interstellar.
Another thing I’ve just started doing is listening to Hemi-Sync music while writing. The idea is that certain sounds can help the brain get into the “zone.” It’s an interesting concept to read about. Maybe I’ve been doing that all these years by listening to certain music without vocals.
When I start a new project, I like to clear away all papers not involved and clean my office, pulling out any notes/books that would be good for the new project.
TLR: .With what media – or genres – do you work?
LA: These days I’m working on a science-fiction novel set in the future that I created in my story, “Twice, At Once, Separated” from Dark Matter I.
My last six books were collections of horror, science-fiction and fantasy poetry, and fiction (two written with others). I’ve been blessed to receive four HWA Bram Stoker awards®. Four Elements (received a HWA Bram Stoker award®) was created with Marge Simon, Charlee Jacobs, and Rain Graves. Dark Duet (HWA Bram Stoker finalist) was written with the late Stephen M. Wilson.
I’m diving into novels now. It’s a very different dance. Writing a poem or short story can be finished quickly (for Being Full of Light, Insubstantial, I wrote a poem a day to create 100 poems).
Joe Lansdale once said to approach each chapter of a novel like a short story, which works real well for me. It’s like building a wall, one brick at a time.
TLR: Do you have a “day job” in addition to being a writer, or is that your day job, too? If you have an unrelated job, how do you balance your creative time?
LA: For most of my life, until now, I would write 15-30 minutes, Monday through Friday, after doing 8 hours of day job, getting home, and doing house stuff (eating, paying bills, etc.). I would put in more time on weekends, in between running errands. The fact that I mostly wrote poems and short stories helped me actually get work out and published.
My daily writing has changed tremendously since I left my computer career and I’m writing full-time. I’m still adjusting to having the whole day to write. You would think it would be easy to go from restricted time to open days, but it’s taking some time.
I find that I can’t actually sit longer than an hour because my body gets tired/achy. I’m working at taking little breaks in between writing sessions to exercise, run errands, etc.
I’ll sometimes work on a poem or non-fiction during a break. This actually helps the novel writing.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers? This could be anything from a time-management strategy to an inspirational quote or exercise.
LA: I can only pass on things that have helped me which others may or may not find useful:
- Setup a schedule for writing – even if only for five minutes a day or one new word.
- Finish what you start.
- Allow yourself to write first drafts quickly without editing; don’t worry about character names or the title of work. Just get it out!
- On re-write: The thesaurus is my friend; I love learning new words.
- I’ve been journaling since high school: Write down anything that occurs to you during your non-writing time; don’t depend on memory. You can revisit theses bits and pieces later to build new work. I’ve gotten some great lines to play with from random conversations around me.
TLR: What would you like people to know about the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?
LA: I believe all writing is born in the subconscious. That’s why setting a writing schedule is important. Sitting down each day allows the subconscious to know this is it’s time to shine. Journaling also allows ideas to bubble up (or seeded, if from something outside your head) that can be worked on later.
I used to call myself the Queen of the Worst First Drafts. I write them quickly, sometimes not even stopping to give characters names (C1, C2, etc), and if I hit a scene that I don’t know how it will go, I’ll write “something bad happens here” and keep going. The quicker I can get from beginning to end the better.
TLR: What interview question would you most like to be asked? Least?
LA: In general, I like talking about the creative process because I have read many articles and books about how others write and I like trying new things.
The hardest questions to answer have to do with who are my major influences, favorite authors, novels.
TLR: What about upcoming publications? Other accolades?
LA: I’m delighted to have three poems published in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Carpe Noctem this year.
TLR: Thank you again for agreeing to participate. It’s always great to learn how other writers work!
Linda D. Addison is an award-winning author of four collections of poetry and prose and the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®. She has published 300 poems, stories, and articles, and is a member of CITH, HWA, SFWA and SFPA. See her site for more information.