Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Write On Wednesday

Since I started this blogging adventure, and especially since participating in NaNoWriMo, I've been building my library of books on the craft of writing. I love thinking of writing as a craft -something that can be molded using the proper tools and process. In the spirit of practicing the craft, I'm declaring "Write On Wednesday's" here at the Byline. It's a day dedicated to whatever I'm thinking about writing in general, and my own writing in particular.

Recently, I've been reading
Write Away, by Elizabeth George. Toward the end of the book, she addresses questions she's often asked in her personal appearances. One of these is "What's a typical day like for you?" What interested me about George's description of her day was the amount of time she spent on "writer's warm ups," I call them. Similar to the way a musician runs scales and arpeggios before diving into a Concerto, George reads for about 15 minutes in a "great piece of literature," noting that while writing a recent novel, she was concurrently reading Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen. She then turns to her Journal of Novel for the last novel she wrote (she keeps an ongoing journal during the time she is writing each of her novels)and reads an entry. After reading this entry, to remind herself that "whatever she's going through now, she's been through before," she then creates a new entry in the journal she's keeping for her current book. After all this prep work is done, she's ready to work on the novel at hand.

I'm fascinated with reading about the "daily life of a writer," and I love reading their diaries (my copy of Virginia Woolf's
A Writer's Diary is filled with dog-eared pages and post-it notes.)
Unfortunately, like most of us for whom writing is not a full time profession, my time at the keyboard is limited to the 20 or 30 minutes a day I've managed to steal from my office job and my family responsibilities. But if I could fashion my days in terms of writing being my main occupation (oh, what luxury!), they might go something like this:

Get up about 6:00, have coffee (some things must never change!) and spend about 30 minutes reading my current novel. Then write morning pages (a warm up exercise!) and spend some time in morning meditation-I've been trying to do this for 10 minutes on a regular basis, and sometimes I'm able focus my busy brain that long, and sometimes I'm not! Exercise would follow - bike riding, or dog walking or both. I think the combination of getting outdoors and moving the body early in the day is not only healthy, but provides creative inspiration as well.

By now, I'm ready to get to work at the keyboard, so I'd head off into my well appointed home office (fodder for another fantasy post!) I would spend some time reading/studying a book on writing, perhaps do a freewriting exercise for about 15 minutes, and then settle in to work on my next bestseller! After completing my requisite five pages before noon, I'd have the remainder of the day free to enjoy lunch with friends, take in a movie or museum exhibit, indulge in another creative hobby like music or photography, or just sit in a cafe and people watch, taking notes for interesting characters that might later appear in my novels.

Well, that was fun. How about you? If you were living the writer's life, what would your day be like?




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9 Comments:

Anonymous bella said...

I don't know what life would be like because it's a huge commitment I'm not ready to make yet! But you, darling.. you are doing awesome! I think that November writing challenge woke up the writer in you, and I'm loving it! Can't wait to hear about the "office"!!

12/06/2006  
Blogger Star said...

What you can do in 20-30 minutes is amazing.

I don't think I can answer your question offhand...it needs more thought. Your proposed schedule sounds wonderful though. I remember in a similar exercise I did last spring, my day included meeting with other creative people, lunching, and getting out into nature. And as I recall, it involved a little cottage near a lake or the ocean or something like that, and a swing :-)

12/06/2006  
Blogger SombraKnight said...

Nice post, I always enjoy reading what you have to say :-)

If I made my living as a writer...

I would wake up early just as the sun was coming up. I would take in the beautiful colors of the sky and breathe in the fresh morning air. The animals would get fed and I would have a huge breakfast by the windows, while I thought about my characters, about what they had been through in the last writings I did...
Then I would write for a while...and after about an hour I might consider a hike. My journal would go into my backpack with me (I always do that) and I would go climbing around, stepping over streams...admiring the trees, the land, the mountains...
And through it all...I would envision adventures for my characters. I would see them climbing up that sheer cliff, or bathing under that waterfall...

I'd better stop now, because I don't think you want a mile long comment, LOL!

Have a Wonderful day!

12/06/2006  
Blogger jzr said...

A perfect writing day for me would always include the outdoors. Nature is inspiration heaven. My problem is there are too many things I love to do and not enough time to do them all. So it becomes a matter of making choices. Being able to focus on the chosen activity whether it be writing, painting or the garden is important, but not always easy.

12/06/2006  
Blogger deirdre said...

Sigh. You're a woman after my own heart. I often find that reading a well written novel will fuel my own writing, something to fire up the imagination and coax the muse to speak to me. Your writer's day sounds like heaven.

12/06/2006  
Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

What a fun idea ... I love your description of what life would look like if we had the luxury of being full-time writers. Thanks for the reminder on the exercises for writing ... I have a bookshelf filled with writing books that I haven't looked at in awhile. I think I'll dig one out and get some ideas that might restimulate my work on a neglected novel.
Thank you and much peace, Becca ... JP

12/07/2006  
Blogger Bug said...

Wow. This is such an interesting question. I think my day would be a lot like yours, albeit starting a bit later. I would love to be able to read, do morning pages, walk/run with my dog, and then get in a few hours of work on a book before doing something else that's creatively stimulating. That would NOT include cleaning my house. :) I would like my work space to be a well-lit cabin of some sort, away from email and the phone.

12/07/2006  
Blogger Alix said...

Becca, I love reading about how writers spend their days. It's always so interesting to peek into others' everyday lives. Thanks for the peek into yours, even if it was a fantasy!

I know too well what it's like to try to steal 20-30 minutes in 5 minutes pieces while at work. Oddly enough, when I was most productive with my writing, it was during a very busy time of my life, and before I owned a computer. Everywhere I went, I carried a spiral notebook and my "favorite" pen at that time. I wrote sitting on the gymnasium floor while my son practiced basketball, in a folding chair out by the ring when my daughter was taking riding lessons. I even stopped occasionally in the middle of the grocery store because an inspired thought came to me and I had to get it down, right alongside my list of lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese! Or at stoplights!

I've often longed for a day though when I had the absolute luxury of hours all my own. I believe that I would spend them much as you would, rising early, working out or taking a long walk, settling in with an extra cup of coffee or hot tea after breakfast to read something inspiring by an author I admire, then easing into that mental flow where time doesn't exist at all...only characters and ideas and words do....

12/08/2006  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Well I am living the writer's life and I can tell you it's not nearly organised enough so that you ca have afternoons free (at least not regularly). I think everyone has their own methods that work and while it's interesting to read about others' inspiration and routine, ultimately we must find what works best for ourselves. That being said, I frequently read books by other writers about how they create. One of my favourite books is The Courage to Create by Rolly May. Madeleine L'Engle's "Herself" is also inspiring. And Writers' Dreaming by Naomi Epel may interest you. These are books currently on a little shelf of "writers' books" on my desk.

12/09/2006  

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