What makes writers tick – Jonthan Pinnock answers IS&T's questions

In the second episode of our new series, Ink Sweat & Tears talks to practicing writers about their process and craft – and asks them nine questions…

1. Where do you write? (do you have an office, room, bus or train journey that you find yourself and your writing? etc)
I’m self-employed and often work from home, so I have An Office. It’s also the place where stuff without a home tends to get chucked, so I often feel like I’m working in a storeroom.

2. How do you write? (into a notebook or straight onto a computer? etc)
Straight into a computer. My writing is atrocious because I was never taught to hold a pen properly and I’ve never bothered to fix that. I also like the fact that you can throw down the words and change them around later.

3. Roughly how much time do you spend each week on creative writing related activities? (writing, editing, correspondence & submissions – give a daily average if possible)
Nothing like enough. I think if I gave an honest answer to this, I’d probably disqualify myself as a writer. One of my New Year resolutions this year was to try to set aside one day a week for writing. So far, I’ve achieved this precisely once.

4. What time of day do you usually write?
Generally late at night after everyone else has retired.

5. Do you set yourself a daily target for writing?
No. Although I’m currently writing a web serial (see below) for which I have a rigorous schedule meaning that twice a week I have to produce 600-700 words.

6. What does it feel like to write?
When it’s working, it’s wonderful. I’m always amazed by the stuff that appears out of the blue. It’s like some weird dialogue gets going between the two halves of your brain, and you’re sitting in the middle listening in and grinning like a loon. When it’s not working, it’s like wading through treacle.

7. Are there any stimuli that will usually trigger you into writing?
I’ve written a lot of stuff for prompts – either for competitions or flash exercises. Some of the best stuff I’ve done I’ve bashed out in less than an hour in response to a prompt. Great way of switching the internal censor off.

8. Do you work in silence or have background noise? If you do have sounds, what are you listening to now?
Usually silence – except if I need something to trigger a particular voice.

9. What are you working on now?
I’m writing this pretty daft web serial called Mrs Darcy vs The Aliens www.mrsdarcyvsthealiens.com which will finish in December, a year after it started. In between, I’m writing the odd short story or poem and keeping an eye out for ideas for the next big project.

* Jonathan Pinnock says I’ve been writing on and off all my life, but I only started taking it seriously three years or so ago. Since then, I’ve won several prizes for short stories (and one for a poem) and I’ve been published in quite a few places from highbrow to lowbrow and beyond the pale. I’ve also recently had a short story broadcast on BBC Radio 4. My website is at www.jonathanpinnock.com and you can follow me on Twitter as @jonpinnock

* Jonathan's story is available on BBC Listen Again. Here's the link www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tdly8

One comment

  1. Anonymous

    A splendid interview. I loved the “I think if I gave an honest answer to this, I’d probably disqualify myself as a writer” as I often feel like that, too.