Friday, May 2, 2014

Butt. In. Chair.

Plain and simple, it's the best writing advice in the world.
That being said, I struggle with maintaining the energy to teach kindergarten each day, much less getting my butt in the chair for creative projects afterward. (Typically my favorite after-hours activity is staring zombie-like into space and trying not to drool.)

Being well-acquainted with my issues, my sweet friend Jo Schneider asked me, So, when do you write? 

Now, I admire Jo.  She's phenomenal. This year, she's released two books with nary a meltdown. And she can literally write anywhere. (I've seen it firsthand and it's impressive!) But I'm not like that. Over the course of crafting Becoming Beauty (which broke me out of the Writing-is-just-my-hobby mindset), I became acquainted with my strengths and limitations where creative writing is concerned.  Beyond BUTT IN CHAIR, there are several other things I have learned which may be of use to you.

Be patient with yourself and take time to understand your process.

My process is odd, to say the least. 
First off, I conduct a random dance before settling in to write. This involves checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and playing a round of solitaire before being productive. (Well-seasoned writers:  Feel free to roll your eyes. I won't hold it against you, I promise.) 

Secondly, before I joined my writing group, I only wrote during the summer and on school breaks. Today, that's still when the bulk of the writing gets done because it's when I have enough creative braincells available.  I've had to make adjustments to keep up with my writing group, but, let's that if there are chattable individuals in the vicinity, I will be chatting them up instead of writing. This means I can't write when the writing group meets together, which mean on our write-in months, I edit instead! (I can edit with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Glee on in the background. Just not all at the same time.)

Lastly, the whole home office scenario, no matter how well-organized and inviting, doesn't work for me. I can write in the living room, in bed, outside, or at the library, but sitting in an office chair facing the wall shuts off my creative juices.

(Side note: How cool is this? A new friend from LDS Storymakers told me that this is how she pops out a book every few months. And hey, you can order your own treadmill desk on Amazon. Who knew?)

Whether you're like me or the amazing and wondrous Jo (I think she actually has a magical cape of some sort) you have to make writing a priority and tailor your creative endeavors to your lifestyle. Though my writing process--complete with an affinity for Spider Solitaire and an abhorrence for desks--is a little strange--I've learned to hold my head up high and proclaim that it's all part of my process.  And understanding that makes me a better writer.

So class, here's your homework:
Develop your process. Find out what gets your head in the game.
Discover a time and place that work for you, even if it's somewhat--ahem--unconventional.

Please, pass along what you've learned about yourselves. I'd love to know what gets you writing.  

Also, If you'd like to learn more about the wondrous Jo Schneider, visit her website.


  1. Luckily I can write any time and anywhere. Unless it involves blood, the many screams and interruptions caused by my brood of 4 children usually dosn't phase me either. That being said...I just recently moved my laptop from the kitchen counter to a corner desk, and it has been wonderful. I feel even more focused and centered now that I can spread my stuff out a little more!

    1. Perfect! I think that's what this is all about--you have to find what circumstances make you a more effective writer. I remember doing calligraphy in high school with my five brothers running circles around me--and I could still maintain my focus. Always impressive!

  2. I find the best of my writing (especially poetry) comes together during spring/summer, and this is because I'm at my most relaxed outside in the garden, I love nothing better than being plonked on a sunlounger, with iced drink, notepad, and thesaurus to hand :) I can doze when the ever present fatigue overwhelms me, sitting up and grabbing pen as and when words flow through - I find writing during the 'indoor' months much more challenging, I don't really have a writing space indoors (unless you count the dinning room table) which is stuck in a corner facing a wall - I do sometimes do the doze, dream, write thing in bed..but more often than not tend to fall asleep before the writing bit happens lol

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