How might some recent philosophical critiques grouped under the rubric of a ‘new materialism’ be brought to bear productively on creative writing practice and pedagogy? This article argues that the new materialism’s particular – and particularly intensified – awareness of the materiality of the writing process and of its textual products can be useful for writers. I consider how the environment in which one creates might look within a new materialist view, outlining what I propose to be one of its central features: the clinamen. I describe how feminist physicist Karen Barad’s concept of intra-activity can be used to view the writing environment as a posthuman assemblage of intra-acting relata, before proposing the figure of the clinamen as able to describe the movement of matter within this assemblage. My argument, ultimately, is that this movement is conducive to the production of novelty in both writing experience and product: it is through the unpredictability of the clinamen’s movement that new textual directions can be brought about. I make reference to my own creative process on this score – taking as examples a collaborative writing workshop I led and an exhibited work of conceptual writing – in order to demonstrate some ways in which new materialisms can prove useful for the proliferation of writing.
A new materialist approach to writing practice