‘Writing is so good for the soul and it’s free therapy.’
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Tuesday’s writer is delighted to welcome Anita Whyte. Based in Kilcullen, Anita is an author of fiction, poetry, and memoir. Today, she shares what writing means to her, her experience with writing groups (she’s a founding member of the renowned Ink Tank Writers Group) and her thoughts about writing and healing.
Q. When did you start writing Anita?
I started writing when I was very young, back in primary school. I loved to write short stories and every Saturday morning I would get up early and write a short story, usually about living in America and becoming famous and living the dream by the beach with the happy ever after. On days when I wasn’t away with the fairies I’d write about real things and just surviving one day at a time. These I’d burn, I wish now I had kept them.
I find writing therapeutic, when I was younger, and I couldn’t make sense of emotions or feelings I would write about it and try to figure out what I needed. Once I did, I was able to move on. Writing has made me resilient and I believe as a reader you will see in the pages of people’s writing how genuine they are when you make that connection. Writing is so good for the soul and its free therapy. I grew up in 70’s and 80’s so we didn’t have access to the internet and self-help books so writing was my way of figuring out things for myself and making sense of the environment I was in and what I could do to make it that bit better.
In recent years I used my writing a lot to help me, and in turn it has helped others, when I wrote about my sixteen-year fertility journey. I felt so broken and shattered from loss and grief, I thought I would never recover, but I did. I write a lot of memoir and some poetry, about feelings and emotions. I would love to be a descriptive writer of the environment they’re describing but I’m more in the head and heart rather than what they see. I’m always in awe of writers that can do that. I can bring you inside the head and the heart. I always wanted to be a writer but thought that was for other people, people who had a degree in journalism and writing. The truth is in order to become a writer, you must write. I remember mentioning to a writer friend of mine I didn’t know where to start and she very wisely advised me to just write and that I would find my voice. It eventually happened, I found what I was good at and stuck with it. I did a Creative Writing certificate course in Maynooth last year and loved it.
Q. You’re part of a very active writing group Anita – Ink Tank Creative Writers Group, who have two anthologies to their name) Can you tell us a little about that, and any hints for anyone who wants to start their own group?
The writing group has been a gift especially now in Lockdown because it’s another resource for connection and encouragement. I do miss the fortnightly physical meet ups as I love people and while we still have connection online it’s not the same as being in the same room and interacting. The group are very passionate about their writing and very supportive of each other’s work. We have a very mixed bag of people of all ages, from 20s to 70s. You learn something new every week. We have an agenda of what we do when we zoom, we start with a writing exercise to get us going, then critique whatever work was sent in for that week, you get some great tips and ideas and we finish with a writing exercise. We have had two very successful anthologies published and, as well as feeling proud of the publications, we were also able to raise much needed funds for a local hospice and mental health facility.
Writing is very solitary so being in a writing group gives you the chance to bounce ideas off people and a way to express your frustrations if you’re feeling stuck, celebrate the milestones and, also the discipline to write.
Q. Do you have a set routine when it comes to your own writing practice? Are you a laptop or notebook person?
I wish I had more discipline. I wing it at the moment. I work on the laptop if I’m writing for group work like the Anthology. I carry a notebook everywhere if |I come up with an idea or in case I pick up a great phrase I hear. I’m mostly journaling (in a fancy notebook) since the new year because I’ve had surgery recently. Writing was an amazing help to get me through the news when I learned I was having this surgery firstly, and since coming through it. When I look back over what I wrote I’m so proud of the work I did on myself, probably the best work I ever done on myself!
Q. What is your favourite writing tip or inspirational motto?
My favourite writing tip is “just write”, I was doing so much talking about it, reading about it, instead of actually writing! So, if its writing you want to do, just write. Get a word down, a sentence, it will all come together eventually. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
My inspirational motto is “tough times never last, tough people do!” I always remember this when I’m going through challenging times, everything is temporary, it will pass, you just have to give it time…
Q. So true! Are you working on anything at the moment Anita?
I was working on a story about women, what they’ve overcome and the support system they have in place for each other. It’s about female friendships through the generations, how they look out for each other with no expectation of anything in return. Women have amazing nature for all genders and ages. I have some time off before I have to return to work, so I want to get back into that and get it finished.
I’m also setting up a podcast called The FemCast to share women’s stories and experiences, to shine a light and give a voice to the amazing humans they are, for more information come follow us on our social media pages you’ll find them here www.thefemcast.com
That’s so exciting, looking forward to listening in when The FemCast when its up and running. Thanks for taking the time to chat today and share your insights into writing!
By Niamh Boyce