This was exactly what I needed tonight - an invitation to write about something so completely opposite from everything else that's been on my mind of late - strikes in Paris, home invasions, frail elderly parents - an opportunity to just think about something I do for me and wallow in a few minutes of geekiness about it. I was enjoying Melissa's blog post earlier today about the "ways and whys" of her writing life. Her post led to me here, to the post that inspired her and a to a blog I think I could quickly come to love. I shouldn't be surprised, because its author is the editor of one my favorite e-zines, All Things Girl. While wandering through her archives, I realize she and I think a lot alike on a number of topics.
But back to her invitation..."Because people fascinate me," she writes, I am curious about other writers. How do they maintain the discipline? Where is their best place to write? When are they most creative?"
Oh yes, the writing life. It's been getting short shrift around here, mostly because of those afore-mentioned preoccupations. I recall a time when I came to the page each morning with the same regularity that I set the coffee brewing and opened the back door to let the dogs out. Life has been fragmented lately, and writing always finds its way to the back burner when that happens.
I'm a morning writer. My morning ritual starts with strong coffee and reading...immersing myself in the words of good writers helps jumpstart my creative process. A few years ago, I was deeply committed to morning pages, three pages of handwritten, stream of consciousness style writing, which I found extremely helpful in keeping my own muse satisfied. Alas, I've fallen out of that habit - or rather, it's been supplanted by morning exercise, which is good for me in an entirely different, but no less important way. I have a drawer in my desk filled with spiral notebooks from the Dollar Store (34 in all, about one a month), which contain almost three years worth of morning ramblings from a middle aged woman.
Most of my writing is digital - I work on a MacBook Pro at home and on an old Gateway desktop (circa 2000!) at my office (where I write medical reports for insurance companies and attorneys). I love paper and pen writing - but my handwriting has become atrocious over the past few years, especially when I'm trying to write fast enough to keep up with my thought process. More than once I've scribbled so frantically in hopes of capturing every idea that I've been unable to read it later. When I write manually, I usually work best with a cheap Paper Mate pen, and a one-subject, wide ruled, spiral bound notebook.
Sometimes (like tonight) I'll get a second wind, and find myself writing late in the evening before bed. A late night check of e-mail and social media occasionally inspires me, and I'll find myself tearing off a blog post or starting a new story or essay.
I'm fortunate to have a "room of my own" for writing. It was once my son's bedroom, but when he grew up and moved away, it became my place to retreat for quiet reading, writing, and resting. I have a desk, and a big easy chair with matching ottoman, where one or two dogs are usually curled up sleeping when I write. Right now, I'm using a gorgeous wooden lap desk that my husband bought me a while back (one of those "just because" presents that are SO meaningful).
So there you have the "ways" of writing. As for the "whys" - writing has always been the way I made sense of Life in General and My Own in Particular. It's a way to tell my side of the story. Because I think every one has a story worth telling, and that we each learn and are enriched when we share those stories with one another.
How about you? What are the ways and whys of your writing life?