Joanna: As a follow-up to my first post on writing routines, here are some posts that I've found useful.
"Writing Rituals" Debra Reed illuminates the mental process of ritual/routine. In her three-part construct (based on the research of anthropologists!), a writing ritual helps you to separate from other activities, transition to a distinctive mental state, and finally, reassimilate into ordinary life, hopefully refreshed by your step into another space. As she discusses, the "coffee shop" writing ritual works well for many because of its satisfying open-middle-close sequence: step into another (literal and figurative) space, work within the new space, step away at the end.
My thoughts? Being in a coffee shop alone is generally a once-a-week luxury for me, but is also one of my most effective tools. My kids are in a co-op on Tuesday mornings, and that has become my carefully guarded writing time. I have come to the point where I leave my grading for another time so that I can feel completely free to use the time creatively. I also try to find other spaces to do some of my less intensive/complex tasks, revising, checking bibliography, etc.
"Writing Around a Day Job" Tom Pollock's post here is infinitely practical, especially for those of us who are slotting in our writing times around an already full schedule. The importance of preplanning for your writing blocks, and carefully protecting your writing times are two of the biggest take-aways here. But I also like his emphasis on a holistic life. People are important. Be kind. Make room for relationships.
"How to Write While Managing a Full-Time Job: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Time" Here, as in Gertrude Stein's writing habits I alluded to in my last post, Chuck Sambuchino invokes the 30-minute principle: half an hour, for him, is equivalent to 300 words (a little more than a page of double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman writing, for another equivalent). By organizing small, easily squanderable nuggets of time, you can reclaim time for writing. Those half-hours--and those pages--quickly add up.
One of the important reminders here is how much of our writing we do when we're not actually sitting down to write. Take a little notebook with you for those moments when you realize how to unpack a problem. Text yourself or a friend. Narrate a rambling message on your phone. Find some open spaces when you're not distracting your mind with other things. Turn off the screen and sit in the sunshine with a cup of tea. Talk to your friend about a new idea you've had. Then when you come back into your ritual space, bring those ideas with you.
I'll be back on another day with some more articles I've found helpful.
Joanna & Tim
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