Why and How I Write


Jodie How is a fellow-writer in our Busselton-based writing group, Just Write. Jodie blogs at Motions and Musings and has tagged me to blog about my writing. I will then tag a couple of others to carry on the assignment!

What am I working on at the moment?

As usual, I am working on several pieces. I have just drafted a feature article on Australian musician Dorothea Angus. Dorothea was the Head of Music at Perth College for 32 years. She was also one of Australia’s best performers on piano and organ, regularly appearing on ABC Radio.

I have started a hymn for the competition for the 150th Anniversary of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. I’d better get a wriggle on, because I think the closing date is the end of this month!

I’m also sitting on a romance I have just finished exploring grief when an older man is widowed. I’m waiting for a magazine or competition wanting a short story of a 1,000 words.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

The honest feedback I get on my poems is twofold. One: people enjoy their musicality, their wordplay and rhymes. Two: they find them too dense in thought, and wonder whether I should put my thoughts more simply.

My stories tend to show detail of landscape and character where other writers leave more to readers’ imaginations.

Like most writers, I struggle to see myself as writing in a preferred genre. I write some fantasy, some SF, even a little romance, some political drama: I see myself writing stories.

Why do I write what I do?

I write about my interests. [I try to be interested in everything.] But I do want my writing to do more than entertain: I want to engage readers. I want them not just to read my hymns, but to sing them. I want them not just to appreciate my point of view in a blog post, but to re-consider their own. I write to persuade; or at least to lay out a viewpoint for real consideration.

I write stories that show characters responding with honesty to challenges that require love and truth. I show people not always being able to rise to challenges, but who can grow to be honest with themselves about their lack of courage or love. I try to avoid the Hollywood solution of bringing a good ending by violent means.

How does my writing/creative process work?

An idea presents itself to me, and I churn it in my head, and it keeps churning until it turns into a story or a poem or blog piece. If it needs research, I research.

There are exceptions: I do write sermons when I am on a roster; I do look for poems to translate. In those cases, the passion comes as I go about the task of uncovering the heart of what I must write.

I write best when I first walk in the morning either along the beach or around the wetlands of Broadwater. I enjoy walking in the quiet of the moment with an empty meditative mind. As I approach the actual writing of the piece, the words gather in my mind to the rhythm of my walking.

Then I sit at my computer and type for an hour and two. I like silence when I write. When I have finished a draft, I go back and edit and re-write until I am reasonably satisfied with the piece.

Ted launches his book of Advent devotions (2014)
Archbishop Roger Herft launches Ted’s 2014 book of Advent devotions (Photo courtesy Sally Buckley)
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Author: Ted Witham

Husband and father, Grandfather.Franciscan, writer and Anglican priest.

5 thoughts on “Why and How I Write”

  1. Thank you, Ted. It is good to hear how others approach their writing – what inspires them, how they actually get into a place in which the muse flows. For myself, I have been dabbling, encouraged by a writer’s group. I think I need to be more disciplined. Like you, I am not necessarily drawn to a particular genre, and I seek to engage the reader beyond the words of the story.

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