Riley Faulds: Write Wildly, Write Chaos!
Riley Faulds stayed at KSP Writers' Centre as an Upcoming Writer-in-Residence in June-July 2022.
My stay at KSP was an absolute dream. One of peaceful, steady productivity, alternating with feverish periods of frantic ideas and unexpected, vivid inspiration. From the perfect cabin setup (that whiteboard! that desk!) to the enjoyable, inspiring Thursday Night and Poetry Group sessions; to the constant weight of Katharine, Hugo, the bees, and the trees, my fortnight up on the hill was magnificent. I’m so grateful for the support of everyone involved in the Centre and in my stay. I left motivated and confident, with a couple of exciting projects sent well on their way by the writing I was able to do in my KSP dream-state.
I thought I’d base my little blogpost here around my stipulated ten writing tips. However, I feel like the many amazing Residents before me have nailed all the very good and sensible ones. And really, the absolute best tip I have, truly, is to wangle some time in one of the cabins at KSP!
So instead of having solid suggestions for productivity, self-care, or discipline, I instead offer my Ten Tips of Writing Chaos. These won’t work for everyone, but sometimes what you need to break through your block, or to produce something really special, is to do things a little bit beyond what’s usually recommended. I hope you see some of your own bad habits reflected in these – when it comes to writing, sometimes the unconventional or the ‘bad’ can produce the reallyverygood.
Ten Chaotic Tips
1. First, a classic: read! But don’t stick to relevant, useful, or even entertaining books. Read an unfamiliar author, read outside your genre, read insurance brochures, read the West Australian Agricultural Report 1933. And don’t stick to conventional reading – hold books upside down, read from back to front, with one eye closed, or in some way that’s different for you. Inspiration demands innovation!
2. Find a tree. Sit in it or with your back or feet against it and at least a little skin in contact with the soil, and write. There’s an old-growth marri in John Forrest NP which is ideal for this – you’ll know the one I mean. Note: check first for ants, snakes, spiders, scorpions, ticks, and fragile orchids. Or be a REAL writer-adventurer, and take your chances…except for with the orchid part, and don’t spread dieback.
3. Stay up really late and write then. Like, I mean, unhealthily past your bedtime. Late-night writing is a bit hit-and-miss, but the good stuff can be shockingly creative. Who cares about being alert at your day job/uni tute/court appearance the next day, if you’ve managed some funky words?!
4. Related to above, always have a notebook by your bed. But don’t just write the good ideas (which aren’t always good by daylight) – write something down every time you wake up. At the very least, scribble in it. That’s output!
5. When you have a deadline, occasionally (if you’re game) leave yourself just enough time to produce and submit the required writing. Pressure and necessity produce some unique results. And what a thrill!
6. Every now and then, treat yourself to something gimmicky that is writing-related, e.g. a piece of sparkly software or a feather quill – anything you think will inspire or improve productivity. It won’t!
7. Prevaricate. Stand up, sit down, dawdle, faff. Stress about the fact that your writing is no good, will never be good, then steel yourself and snap out of it – your writing sometimes is good and you’re wasting your life with these distractions! Then get straight up and find yourself a snack. This is not a tip, it’s a description of my creative process.
8. Vandalise something. I don’t mean actual property damage (unless it’s the property of [redacted mining company name]!). I mean graffiti something erasable onto the bee-tree sign at KSP, or write a found poem that subverts its source material, or cut up and collage the West Australian Agricultural Report 1933. As the old saying goes: to be a great writer, one must trace, embrace, encase, replace, go to outer space, and – most importantly – deface!
[Bee Sign Photo here, if possible! Caption: “My attempt at following Tip 8 while in residence. Sorry, Fern!”]
9. Be a Communist. Look, this one might be a bit controversial, and I can’t say I’m quite there yet, though close. But it certainly worked for KSP herself, so if you’ve tried all the others, maybe give this one a go.
10. Go off grid. This one is the least yet most chaotic, and maybe the most serious of my tips. It’s how I get the most and the best of my work done. Be disconnected, be analogue and, if possible, be outside – with as many trees as possible (see Tip 2) and/or a view. I best process and understand the complexities of environment, writing, self, and others when I am with simplicity.
Thanks again everyone for having and helping me. I’ll certainly be back, trailing chaos (or at least another Toblerone to share with you) in my wake.
~ Riley Faulds 2022