My Writing Journey
by Natasha Brown


Natasha Brown’s Assembly is published by Penguin on 3 June and is one of the most anticipated debuts of 2021. In 2019, Natasha was awarded a place on Spread the Word’s London Writers Awards in the literary fiction category. 

Here, Natasha writes about her writing routine. 

Writing is disheartening work, I think. It takes perseverance, often in spite of oneself. Most of the time I spend writing is more accurately described as searching for, and failing to find, suitable words. It’s like looking for lost keys. Only worse, because no physical keys exist. Instead, I must somehow unlock the door with the best description of keys I can come up with. (Metaphor, too, is often elusive.)

But we still do it. I certainly do. Let’s sidestep the slippery question of ‘why’. For the ‘how,’ I find routine helpful. Starting each day with coffee and fifteen minutes of handwritten ‘free writing’ to clear my mind. After that, I set about my daily fiction target — one hundred words. Often, I have no narrative expectations or constraints. I just try to get to the right words. This lack of direction frees me to explore, experimenting with the approach and material. Perhaps I’ll follow an imagined person for a few hours of their life, trying to render their voice, physicality, and outlook. Or I might just try to capture a detail. A half-remembered sound, an ambiguous feeling, a gesture, or a thought.

At the weekends, leisurely, I consider all these scraps: rewriting, combining, trying to tease out the good stuff. Building up from the tiniest details to entire characters, scenes, and interactions. Of course, there comes a point where the narrative makes its own demands and I must write a specific scene. If the scene resists being written, I try to understand why. I nudge characters towards it, and then follow them wherever they choose to go instead. Once, this method led me to write two characters — a host with her guest — pausing, simply to look at one another, before pushing on with their conversation. It was awkward and unsatisfying. The characters didn’t want to participate in that moment, I could feel it. I didn’t want to write it either. But that difficulty, that reluctance, worked its way into the scene. And in the end, the words felt right.

front cover of Assembly by Natasha Brown
Natasha Brown has spent a decade working in financial services, after studying Maths at Cambridge University. She developed Assembly after receiving a 2019 London Writers Award in the literary fiction category.




This blog was published 1 June 2021