Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers.
Kristi Maxwell is an Assistant Professor of English and a mentor in the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Program. She’s the author of six books of poetry, including Realm Sixty-four, Hush Sessions, and Bright and Hurtless, forthcoming from Ahsahta Press in Sept.
Location: Schnitzelburg, Louisville
Current project: A book of poems, an article about end-words in poetry, and a book chapter about eating animals at Disney World
Currently reading: Amy Lawless’ Broadax, Robert Sheppard’s The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry, and Scott McClanahan’s The Sarah Book
1. What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?
Poems, poetry scholarship, marginalia, texts, emails
2. When/where/how do you write?
I prefer to write in bed or reclined on my couch. My mind feels brightest when I’m lying in bed, “trying” to fall asleep, so I often start pieces or solve a writing problem late at night or early in the morning. I’ve been writing a lot of poems on my iPhone lately, in Notes: I like how it’s helping me engage the poetic line in a fresh way. When I’m working on an essay, I like to use Post-its so I can map the piece out on a wall to visualize it better, see connections, and figure out organization.
3. What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?
It’s not a necessity, but I do prefer to write with a Pilot Precise V5 Roller Ball Pen in an Apica CD-11 notebooks. I like quiet spaces with natural light or lamplight—no music, no fluorescent lights.
4. What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?
Reading always jumpstarts my thinking and writing, so I recommend opening a book and putting eye to word.
5. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
Don’t treat your writing as precious—be willing to revise radically, let go of things that aren’t working, or experiment. It can help to name documents “draft 1,” “draft 2,” “draft 3,” so you know you can always return to an earlier version.
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