Tempany Deckert is a Los Angeles-based author and actress, my co-writer on teen novel it’s yr life recently released in the US and on kindle. Tempany and I wrote the novel via email between Byron Bay and L.A. She is the author of twenty books for children and young adults as well as being widely-known for her work in television. Here, take a peek inside her writing space and creative process.
Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
I wrote my last book, DIS THIS, right before Christmas vacation. It was a story that had been rolling around in my head for a long time so I was excited to sit down and let it be born. The space in which I write is very important – it must change! I cannot write in the same place every day. So I use my desk one day, the kitchen table another, the couch the next, different cafes constantly and sometimes I’ll even go write outside. I need the environment to change so that I’m mentally stimulated in different ways for the story to fully form.
|Tempany Deckert’s creative pinboard.|
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you ‘get into character’ at all?
I do often put up pictures that are related to the story. DIS THIS is set in New Orleans, so I even went to visit the Big Easy to make sure my location details were accurate. I’ll often play music that I think suits the story as that often changes the pace and tone of how I write. One of the characters in the book listens to jazz, so I played lots of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. I’ll also eat the same things as the character and try to explore the character’s hobbies and interests. For DIS THIS, the character loves all New Orleans food, so I’ve been eating beignets (famous New Orleans donuts) and chicory coffee. It’s a great excuse to eat yummy stuff! When I write, I feel like I am the lead character, so I definitely get into character. When I’m finished writing I feel sad that I have to say goodbye to such a close friend. It’s strange but true!
|Tempany Deckert with Cosmo the Wonderdog|
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
I am much more organized. I have folders for all the different projects I’m working on and a pin board to post up any pictures, ideas and inspirational images that I need to get me through the process. I also buy a heap of cheap notebooks and store all my notes in them and NEVER throw them away. I’ve found I often need to go back into those books for little gems of genius. I disable the internet while I work (otherwise I end up ‘researching’ – i.e. procrastinating) and I don’t check emails until I’m done. When I first started writing I was traveling around the world and always living out of a suitcase. It was very hard to keep track of all my drafts, outlines and character breakdowns. I would constantly be losing stuff and getting things mixed up. It was, in a word, chaos. Writing is like putting together a puzzle and if you don’t keep your puzzle pieces in one box, you are bound to never get the picture completed. One of those small pieces will surely get eaten by your cat or accidentally thrown into the recycling bin. So organization is key!
|Tempany’s fave cafes to write in.|
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
I write better in the morning so I get up, have breakfast, feed my dog, meditate, walk to a cafe or my couch and begin work. I break for lunch around 12.30 and then I get back into it. I aim to write at least four pages a day. If I write more, great, but I’m not allowed to write less! The emphasis is on getting the page minimum achieved and not a certain number of hours. Sometimes I can write four pages in an hour. Sometimes it takes me six hours. Once the afternoon and evening rolls around, my creative brain shuts down and I’m useless. So I’ve learned to make sure I start writing as soon as I get up and get those four pages done. I try to write five days a week and I never write on the weekend.
|it’s yr life, written via email between Byron Bay and LA.|
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
I dress up as if I’m going out to work. I put on a nice outfit and do my hair and maybe even some makeup. It makes me feel like I’m in ‘work’ mode and I seem to get more done that way. If I just sit down in my PJs, I’m not as efficient and productive.
Thanks, Temp. Next week, check back for another writer sharing their space and process in The Writer’s Studio.