Every once in a while, when I’m scratching around for something new to write, I make a list of the things I obsess about. Thankfully, some of them change over time, but there are always new ones to fill the gap.
Recently, of course, all I can think about is the pandemic and the changes to the world as we’ve known it.
It’s true that writers write about what they think about most of the time. Things they can’t let go: things that plague them; stories they carry around in their heads waiting to be heard.
I used to get my creative writing groups to make a list of the topics they obsess about so they can see what occupies their thoughts during their waking hours. After you write them down, you can use them for spontaneous writing before crafting them into stories. They have much power. This is where the juice is for writing. They are probably driving your life, whether you realise it or not, so you may as well use them rather than waste your energy trying to push them away. And you can come back to them repeatedly.
I’ve been working on a suite of quarantine poems. The first of the series will be published in Quadrant magazine.
One of the things I usually obsess about is relationships: relationships in families, relationships with friends, relationships with lovers. That’s what I tend to write about. I think to myself, Why not? Rather than repress my obsessions, explore them, go with the flow. And life is always changing, so new material keeps presenting itself.
We are driven by our passions. Am I the only one who thinks this? For me these compulsions contain the life force energy. We can exploit that energy. The same with writing itself. I’m always thinking and worrying about my writing, even when I’m on holidays. I’m driven.
But not all compulsions are a bad thing. Get involved with your passions, read about them, talk to other people about them and then they will naturally become ‘grist for the mill’.
What about you? Do you find yourself writing about the same things over and over again?