Open the Door: words with women writers, Amanda Thomson & Amy Gear

Following their fascinating discussion at our first Open the Door event this year, we followed up with writers and artists Amanda Thomson and Amy Gear to ask the last couple of audience questions we’d run out of time for.

These questions feel perfect for our festival’s aim to open the door to new writers as they ask Amanda and Amy how they balance of their creative processes and what advice they’d give to writers who are having a dip in confidence.

I’d love to learn about Amy and Amanda’s creative processes. Do they write and make art at the same time or spend time on one thing at a time?

I do everything at the same time, I’ll write one evening, run a collaborative workshop the next day, make a plan for a new project an hour later. Sometimes I work this way by choice, but its often just survival.

My ideal way to work would be in a garden studio, looking out to the sea, on my own, with the fire on, but the reality is, I write in my bed in the evenings, and if I draw, its on a stolen Sunday morning in Gaada between loads of laundry!

Amy Gear

At the moment my focus is on writing. It’s partly the direction I’ve been going in for some time, and partly circumstances at present, and not having the access to a printmaking workshop, though my impetus has definitely been towards writing. I suspect there will be a time in the future that I’ll re-balance my arts practice and writing. Saying that, my writing often comes from visual observations, and is rooted in the photographs and sometimes films that I make; and quite often I see my writing as adding another strand to the story of a piece of artwork, particularly if it’s about a particular place. Writing allows me to bring in other stories and perspectives that I wouldn’t be able to include in a piece of visual art, so I often see the writing and art as in conversation with each other – particularly as I’m making work about a particular place and landscape.

Amanda Thomson

What advice would you give to writers who are often faced with a lack of motivation due to a mountain of doubt?

The main thing is to write for yourself, without any expectation it will go anywhere. My partner loved this suggestion from another writer, Jenn Ashworth, 100 days of writing, and there was a good spell last year that we’d both sit and write a page a day. I bought myself a nice wee A5 notebook. Most of it didn’t come to anything, and it sits as almost a journal, but as a way of just feeling that you are doing something and moving with things, I found it really helpful, and I’m sure there are kernels of scribbles that became something else. I still try and write two or three sentences every night before I go to sleep, in amongst anything else I am doing. Doubt is a funny thing and something I think most of us struggle with – whether its in relation to getting things out in the world, or when things are out there, and I’m not quite sure what the answer is. I think trying to be kind to yourself and not beating yourself up if you don’t get somewhere quickly, and not comparing yourself to others, if you can manage it, and just being in the moment, is not always easy, but can ease you through.

Amanda Thomson

You don’t have to share what you write – it can be private. Just knowing this has helped me sometimes. I often start just writing anything, it could be about something that’s annoying me, or on my mind, or an observation from the day. Starting is the hardest thing, so just go, and know that you are doing it for you, and nobody else. By page 2 usually something I’ve written has a glint of something more inside it.

Amy Gear

We were delighted to collaborate with Creative Conversations at University of Glasgow to host a lunchtime discussion between artists and writers Amanda Thomson and Amy Gear, as part of our Open the Door festival 2021. You can watch Amanda and Amy’s conversation until 7th June on our website here, or visit here to book for other events in this year’s festival!

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