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Cannot Write Without: Haralambi Markov

The question in the lagoon this month: What’s the one thing you cannot write without?

Today’s answer comes from SF short fiction author extraordinaire: Haralambi Markov.


Whenever you hear professional writers – I’m talking about those writers who are revising a novel under deadline and outlining a new one while simultaneously doing a press tour for a book due to be released any second – speak about writing, you hear one advice come up very often: “Abandon all rituals. Forget about the special pens, notebooks and time of day. Write – it doesn’t matter when, where or how.” It’s damn good advice; gets things done.

I didn’t take it to heart when I first started, of course, because writing is an act of inspiration, OK? You’re an artist – the recipient of a rare gift. You can’t just sit down and write. No, you have to gather all the ingredients, wait for the right hour and use the right instruments to reach the ether and channel inspiration. What this method taught me is that you can’t do much work waiting for circumstances to align. You’re not a witch waiting centuries for planets to align in just the right way for a short window of time. Writing is not that kind of spellwork.

One by one, I had to strip out the rituals and prerequisites to get any writing done. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fine to have a favourite notebook with the best layout, a favourite pen with a great grip and an hour you know your mind is clearest, but I learned to not require them.

Right now, the one thing I cannot sacrifice is solitude. I can’t write knowing there is another person in the same room as me. My desire to chat and goof around trumps my desire to write and even the potential of a conversation breeds tension and dissolve any creative focus. I’m working on overcoming this, too, but so far – I think I hit a hard limit there.


Haralambi Markov is a writer, an editor, a freelancer, a reviewer, a geek, a book hoarder, a list maker, an art fanatic, a TV junkie, a pop culture aficionado…and lives “with the weird” in the coastal city of Varna, Bulgaria. Find out more about Harry at: http://haralambimarkov.com/blog/ (The Alternative Typewriter)