Writing Confessions: Orla Broderick

Orla Broderick
Category: Writing

Orla Broderick's first novel, The January Flower, was published in December 2012 and longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Originally from Wicklow Town in Ireland, Orla now lives on the Isle of Skye with her daughter and dog. In 2014, Orla received a New Writers Award for Fiction. You can follow Orla on twitter (@orlabroderick) and find out more about her work on the Council House Publishing website. 

Currently working on a new novel, we sat Orla down and asked her some questions about her work. Discover her worst writing habit and more below!

What is your worst writing habit? 

I heard a man say he would often think about mowing the grass when the garden was under three foot of snow rather than set down the phrases that were niggling at the back of his mind. If I can’t think of the word I want or what a character is supposed to be doing, then I bake bread, make soup or vacuum the house.

Is there a book by someone else that you wish you’d written?    

Last year I was jealous to the point of obsessive about Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing. I wished I could have written that book. It’s so brave, so raw, so brutally terrible and yet beautifully written. She just made up a way of writing, put it all in a book and left it in a drawer for years. Her style takes a bit of getting used to. I had to read it very carefully. It’s a shocking book.

What are your thoughts on schemes like NaNoWrimo?

NaNoWriMo seems quite enjoyable. Folk on Facebook are forever congratulating each other on their six million a day word count when I am stuck with having written a sentence or maybe two. I should really join it.

Have you ever read a friend’s work and lied about enjoying it?

Several times. I have read some dreadful tales of terrible times and had to grin and smile and say that it was marvellous to read when of course it never was. Harrowing histories are gripping when written well, hellish if not. I started to read a friend’s novel once but couldn’t manage to engage with it at all. He asked me many times if I liked it and every time I saw him I just sweated, tried to grin and nod politely but just wanted to run far away.

What’s in your essential writing toolkit?  

Coffee, tobacco, candles, blanket, pen, paper.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve received?

There are seven plot lines. Only use the seven major plots if you ever want to make money.

How do you react to negative feedback? 

A friend posted insults about my book all over my Facebook pages. I blocked her. There’s one negative comment on the Amazon selling page, but I have just ignored it. Most people have been incredibly supportive and encouraging.

Have you ever lied about your writing to impress someone?

Yes, I have. Many times. It has worked for short periods of time.

What is your honest daily writing routine?

I get up at 5 am. I meditate. I do free-writing and visualisation. I write stuff. I organise the child. I drive her to school, do all the housework and any other sorting out and at some point in the day I go back to the stuff I wrote and I try to make sense of it. I do this three times a week if I get the chance. Sometimes I wake up at 5 am, snuggle in to my girlfriend and return to dreamland.

Has writing ever ruined or cemented a relationship?

If it wasn’t for writing I would never have met my girlfriend Marianne. Jenny Brown came to Portree to talk about publishing. Marianne was on Skye for a short holiday. She came along to hear Jenny’s talk. We were introduced and some many months later I sent her a draft copy of The January Flower. She loved it and thought I was wonderful and moved from Amsterdam to Skye to be with me. 

Looking for some inspiration? Check out our lists of books about writing. If you're facing a writing conundrum, send your question to Miss Write, our resident writing agony aunt! You can also catch up on some previous Writing Confessions blogs