Joanne Limburg is an award winning poet living in Cambridge. She has published three collections of poetry as well as a memoir and is an experienced creative writing teacher. We were lucky enough to talk to Joanne about her world and get some great advice for all those would-be poet Reading Activists out there.
What does a day in the life of a poet look like?
My working day takes place during school hours, and is divided between boring domestic things like buying bread and loading the dishwasher, and writing. I try to go out most mornings, because I find that moving my feet seems to get my thoughts moving as well - and that's important, because a lot of the work takes place in my head. If I'm going to write on any given day - and I don't always - it will most likely be in the afternoon, between 12 and 3.
There are different stages to writing a poem, and each one has its own kind of writing: there's the get-it-all-down note-taking stage, the stage of working up a first draft or two, and a third stage where I edit what I've already written. Each stage can take minutes or weeks, depending on the poem.
What advice would you give to any aspiring young writers and/or poets?
Writing starts with reading: read as much you can. And write too, because it only gets better with practice. Keep a notebook where you can jot down ideas (or you could make notes on your phone or tablet if that comes more naturally). Find some good first readers for your writing, whose opinions you respect - you could find and join a writing group locally or online, or even set one up yourself. And you might also like to check out some local classes.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Until I was nine, I wanted to be a scientist. But then I wrote a poem at school that my teacher said was very good, and just like that I changed my mind and haven't changed it again since.
What are your favourite and least favourite things about the job?
I love being able to make things and to be in charge of what I do; the isolation is hard, and also the uncertainty, financial and otherwise.
What do you do when you get writer's block?
It depends on the block. Some are to do with sheer tiredness and are a signal you need to take a short break from writing. Others happen because you've become caught up in the thought that what you write won't be good enough, and then what you need to do is give yourself permission to write rubbish - no-one has to see a first draft, so all that matters at that stage is that you are writing, not what you write. Just get something down.
Read more of the articles in our 'a day in the life of' series. We've been getting tips from professionals in lots of creative industries including a journalist, a book designer, an Eastenders script writer and an author.
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