Sunday, July 20, 2014

Teachers Write - Weekly Reflection #3

Welcome back, writing friends! Today marks the end of Teachers Write week 2! I hope you are enjoying Teachers Write and all the great support we receive from Kate, Gae, Jo and others. Thanks for stopping in here to share your progress!

This week I got into more of a rhythm with my writing and was able to write everyday, adding amazing, first-draft-imperfectly-perfect words to the novel I'm drafting. I've noticed that my rhythm this summer means I'm writing and celebrating my writing, but the nature of my life this summer - home with two young kiddos, traveling, being home, squishing in writing time  - means where I'm writing isn't very consistent. For a while now, I've longed for a wonderful writing nook, a little space carved out somewhere in the world just for me. With bright, warm colored walls, inspirational quotes hung tenderly, and a simple wooden tabletop where my laptop can sit, this writing space lives only in my imagination but I'm okay with that. 

Today's weekly reflection question is, "Where do you write?" but I'm challenging you to think outside of the proverbial box and to stretch some of the ideas you might have about the perfect writing space. While I dream of a sweet writing nook, I've done a lot of writing without one and I seem to be doing just fine.
During the first summer of Teachers Write, I read Stephen King's book On Writing and blogged about all the great writing insight he shares in that book. I shared many of my favorite quotes, and three of them are specific to a writing space. Here they are again:

“For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction.” p. 156
“When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you’re writing, you’re creating your own worlds.” p. 156
“I wrote my first two published novels, Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot, in the laundry room of a doublewide trailer, pounding away on my wife’s portable Olivetti typewriter and balancing a child’s desk on my thighs; John Cheever reputedly wrote in the basement of his Park Avenue apartment building, near the furnace. The space can be humble (probably should be, as I think I have already suggested), and it really needs only one things: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business; you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.” p. 155

I wrote most of my first draft that summer in my laundry room. It was the best way to shut out distractions. I sometimes still write in my laundry room but have also found a lot of success writing in my closet. For me, cutting out distractions really is what I need. Everything else doesn't matter as long as I can shut out the world around me and zone in on the paper/computer screen in front of me.

Here's another quote, this time from Ralph Fletcher, who has written a lot about writers notebooks (which, incidentally, are amazing and a fantastic place to start with student writers - you can read about his resources in this blog post): 

“When you come right down to it,
you are the place where your words will grow.
But most writers find it invaluable to have
a regular writing place, a physical space,
where they can water and weed a garden of words.”

This week, I read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron where she explains, "Wherever I am, whenever I can, I write." Which got me thinking about how Ralph is right that it's great to have a place that feels energizing, Stephen is right that cutting out distractions helps but that maybe Julia is onto something in the fact that we can take our writing space with us.

On Tuesday, I went to an amazing yoga class led by my friend Lauren (of paddleboard yoga fame) and by the end I was so overcome with emotions that it became a writing emergency. Luckily, I had my writer's notebook with me and I sat down to write while all the feelings were fresh. By always having a place to record my thoughts - whether it's with a notebook and a pen or with a device - I have my writing space with me

On Thursday, I found myself at Starbucks with time to write. I adore Starbucks as a place to be productive. Just walking in and smelling the smells puts me in a mental place to write. The only thing I don't like about Starbucks is the noise distractions. While they play lovely music, it usually varies in style and tempo and doesn't always match my mood or the mood of what I'm writing. Likewise, there are lovely people in Starbucks but sometimes they are chatting away - whether it be to each other or to me - and that doesn't always help me either. I have found that plugging in my headphones at Starbucks or anywhere else allows me to get back to my writing. I have a wonderful white noise with waves soundtrack that works especially well when I'm revising or working on anything non-fiction but I create playlists for when I'm working on first draft novel-writing. By having a way to play music that eliminates distractions and fuels me - I have my writing space with me.

Here is a playlist I created in iTunes when working on my first novel:

And this is the playlist I created on Spotify for the novel I'm drafting right now:
I love thinking about an ideal writing space and at least finding a place where we can be comfortable to write but I also think it's worthwhile to be open-minded to the idea that we are the writers and that, ultimately, we bring the writing to the space.

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
My goal for this week was to write for 25 minutes every day. I also wanted to add 1,000 words to my draft everyday so that I would be at 9,000 words today...and I half made it. I did write for at least 25 minutes everyday but I didn't get to 1,000 words everyday. My word count is at 7,759 which is still progress so I'm happy with that.

This week, I did my best, most productive writing when I woke up early and was able to write or when I went to Starbucks in the morning or middle of the day and was able to work. I can definitely write at night but it's harder to move fast and feel fully engaged, my head just feels tired. My goal for this upcoming week is to keep on drafting but to look for space to write early on in the day as much as possible and to take into account that I might need to write more on the days when I can really only squeeze in the 25 minutes. I also need to stop thinking so much and just spew out all the first-draft words...and hopefully I can get to 13,000 words by next Sunday.

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments section:
Where do you write?
What about the atmosphere or the background noise or music helps you write?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?


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