Creative Writing

Things We Carry: Tamara Lynch

Things We Carry is a series of short interviews with current students, faculty, and alumni of the Creative Writing Program. These conversations are interested in the tactile elements of writing: what do we hold essential? What tools do we need in order to create? The things we find essential to our writing process reflect our beliefs about craft and process. 

This week, we were delighted to hear from our first guest, Tamara Lynch, a second year fiction student at The New School.

First things first: where & when are you writing these days? 

Anywhere and everywhere. I work full time, so I write on my mobile scrivener app on the train weekday mornings. Sometimes I can get some writing in at lunch. On the weekends, I’ll snag a coffee and an apple cider doughnut from the farmers market and write on a bench in Fort Green park. If the weather isn’t cooperating, I’ll be at the long table at the Ace Brooklyn. My desk at home is comfortable, but my PS5 literally calls to me.

Do you have any tools or tokens that are essential to your writing?

I have a tarot deck at the ready if I get stuck and need to get out of my head. I’m not talking about doing “a reading,” I’m talking about pulling cards and using the artwork to unlock the subconscious mind. Each card has a feeling, a setting, and an active protagonist. Think of it like a Rorschach test. In traditional tarot decks, the 22 major arcana cards depict the hero’s journey. You start as “The Fool”, you end with “The World.” I’ve used it for plotting. The Kim Krans Archetypes deck is actually designed for storytelling. Not only is the artwork stunning, but the cards are divided into four groups. The Who, the Where, the Tools, the Goal. It’s perfect for prompts and brainstorming. I could literally go on and on about this.

Pen and paper, laptop and wifi, or a combination? 

A combination. I use a journal for story ideas, marking stuff for research, and basic reminders. If a scene isn’t working, I’ll strip it down to essential beats on paper. Also, screen fatigue is real. Sometimes it’s nice to get primitive.

Do you have any habits or rituals that help you ground yourself before you begin writing? 

Creative visualization. I learned it in gymnastics. Visualize the skill, then execute. It’s the same principles for writing. If I can see the scene in my head, it’s easier to get it on the page.

You have been given a backpack and are being sent to a desert island for thirty days of uninterrupted writing time. What do you put in the backpack? 

Can I assume there is a luxury tent on this island? (Ed. Note: Absolutely.)

A magnum of red wine

Ground coffee & a mini French press.

Laptops and sand don’t mesh, so a stack of lined notebooks and a box of pens

My phone with a battery pack for music

Hair ties. These curls will not survive the humidity.

A retractable fishing rod and a knife. I plan to hunt for food like they did on Yellowjackets.


Bug spray

Bar of soap

A first aid kit

A lighter

A glass bottle for rainwater

The clothes on my back

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma

Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot by Jane Cleland 

Edible plant book

My mini Tarot deck

A map of the stars

Last question: are there any words or quotes that you find essential to your writing practice?

A former writing mentor said “Give yourself permission to be bad and trust in your ability to revise.”

Tamara Lynch is a second year MFA in fiction student. Her race, relationship, and culture pieces have appeared on several webzines including, The Huffington Post, and She has also contributed to the Madonna Anthology Madonna and Me. Her romance novels are published by Harlequin under a pen name and her new YA Fiction is forthcoming. She lives in Brooklyn. You can find her on instagram @Lynchlyfe.  

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