The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

The Writing Date

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I’d heard the advice for years, probably since I first started writing like it’s a second job:  Establish a time when you sit down and write.  Clear out distractions and stick to that time; it is exclusively for writing.  Of course I ignored it, much like I ignore 90% of the writing advice I read from whatever hack put up whatever on his blog or got published in whatever magazine.  And I ignored it because I know better.  Other writers don’t know me and my methods.  They don’t know how important it is to me to slog around blindly, feeling every inch and only every inch in front of me and write in such a way that it feels like I’m giving birth sideways (hyperbole!).  Besides, I don’t believe in gimmicks.  They don’t work.  Until they do.  And then they stop becoming gimmicks and start becoming habits.  That’s why I have a writing date with myself on Wednesday afternoons during the summer.

This didn’t start as a writing date.  It started last summer (on my birthday, actually), and I was going to drive one town over for a little birthday present I bought myself.  I had been working on a poem that morning, and was having such fun with it that I decided I’d take the poem with me and camp out in the little coffee shop in said town one town over.  It turned out that there was a farmer’s market going on and there were lots of people milling around.  I ventured through the market and I ended up sitting on the back deck of a restaurant.  Got myself a little snack and a beer, and set to working on that poem.  I got up two hours later and thought how nice it was to be unexpectedly productive.  I went the next week, and the week after and the week after, and seemed to always have something to work on.  And I always walked away feeling it was time well spent.

So I formed a habit.  Now the writing date is locked on my schedule during the summer on Wednesday afternoons, though I have moved from the back deck of that restaurant to the beer garden of a bar up the street from there.  They offer full-time shade, a better beer selection, and huge tables so I can spread out my work.  Plus, there usually aren’t a lot of people there.  Why is this even worth writing about?  Because this blog is foremost a meta-cognitive journal about writing, so when things come up in my writing life it’s a good idea to come back to the blog.  Beyond that, though, it’s important that I found some structure for writing during the summer.  I am one who has frequently lamented the “dark side” of my annual 80+ days off; i.e. I tend to run off the rails and lose discipline and structure.  So plugging in some regular time helps avoid that.  Plus, it’s not just about Wednesday afternoon anymore.  I’m working on stuff in the days leading up to Wednesday so that when I arrive at the beer garden I have stuff going already and am not always trying to create new stuff.  An open, public environment usually isn’t conducive to generating new material, not for me at least, but I have found it to be effective for editing and redrafting because I’m not self-conscious about looking like I’m constipated when I’m in those stages of the writing process (hyperbole!).  Plus, this structure and discipline has helped me slog through what has been a very difficult piece to write these last few months (it will appear here soon), and without this habit I probably would have kept blowing the piece off until it was really too late to write it.  And then I would have kicked myself for blowing it off (not hyperbole!  the past few years of yoga have helped with my flexibility!).

There’s wisdom to be gleaned from all this, of course.  One such nugget is that I’ve stopped being so self-conscious about writing in public in a non-coffee shop setting.  I’ve had a hang-up in my head for years now that people look at you like you’re a freak or you’re trying to draw attention to yourself if you’re writing in public in an unexpected place.  Dunno where that came from, and it’s probably my imagination, but I seem to have dealt with the issue effectively.  Either that never really happened, or it’s still happening but now I don’t care.  The beer garden setting and so many other distracting things happening in the farmer’s market probably help in this regard.  Also, I learned to hold off on ordering a beer until later in my writing session.  I won’t get into the details of how I made that discovery, but trust me.  So I guess I can endorse setting a writing date with oneself.  Funny how this issue isn’t a problem during the school year when I have much less time and much more structure.  I guess that will be a blog for a different time.

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Written by seeker70

August 2, 2016 at 9:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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