The Regional Writing Centre was delighted when critically-acclaimed Irish author and Limerick City of Culture 2014 Writer-in-Residence, Paul Lynch paid a visit to the centre to talk about his writing process.
Paul’s first work of fiction ‘Red Sky in the Morning’ was the subject of a six publisher bidding war. Since publication, it has received much acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic and in 2013 was Book of the Year in The Irish Times, The Toronto Star, The Irish Independent and The Sunday Business Post. Paul was also nominated for France’s Best Foreign Book and Best First Novel. Paul’s second novel, ‘The Black Snow’, was published in Spring 2014 and has already been lauded by critics. Before becoming a novelist, Paul worked as a journalist and film critic for The Sunday Tribune and has also written film reviews for The Sunday Times.
As Paul shared his thoughts on the essence of good writing and his own writing process, he stated that success in writing (including academic writing) must stem from a belief that we are writers. Once writers acknowledge that they are in fact writers, success in writing can be fostered by developing a metacognitive awareness of one’s own writing process and strategies. As a successful full-time writer, Paul writes everyday – primarily in the morning after a period of meditation. This is a time of day when, for most people, clarity of thought is greatest. In developing an effective writing strategy, writers should find a space in which to write that is devoid of distractions. As writers become aware of their process, they can enhance writing productivity by developing routines that work best for them.
Writing is both a process- and product-based activity. In focussing on product, Paul uses visualisation, a technique taken from sports psychology, to help with large writing projects such as novels. This helps with planning and achieving the desired end-product. On any writing project, setting daily writing goals, e.g. words written, is an effective strategy for Paul. However, it is important to recognise the importance of taking breaks from writing especially when the ideas and words cease to flow. Time away from the desk can often generate new ideas Paul never leaves home without a means to record ideas as they occur to him.
Good writing benefits from reading works by good authors in Paul’s view. For those of us academics who are primarily non-fiction writers, he recommends seeking authors with good prose style.T
When asked about the role of the inner critic in his writing process, Paul acknowledged that it can be useful but it needs to be controlled so that it does not stymie writing productivity. An important element of Paul’s approach to writing is to edit while writing. He believes that re-writing is at the core of the writing process and that focussing attention at the level of the sentence is essential to producing exemplary writing