Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Habits for a Writer

As I begin this new journey, I find myself reflecting on what habits I can develop as a writer.

The most important one, and one I've always known about myself, is I need to create a quiet space for myself to write.  I am not someone who writes well when other people are around or there is a great deal of activity for multiple reasons:
  • I revise constantly as I write.  I envy those people who can start a blog post and have it done in 15 - 20 minutes.  I find that I am rereading sections and entire paragraphs to fine-tune them all the time.  To do that effectively, I need quiet space -- space where I can reread sentences out loud to capture their flow, space where I hopefully can choose the best word for the phrase, space where I can spread out notes and work that support me as I work/write.
  • I am horrible at multi-tasking.  My brain can just not assimilate conversations people might want to have with me at the same time I am working on the flow of a piece.  Every time I'm interrupted by a family member or the painters that are currently painting the exterior of our house or a phone ringing, I basically have to restart my writing.  A general equation for me would be: the more interruptions I've had while writing = the choppier my writing sounds.
  • Writing is a "me" activity.  It is way of expressing myself professionally or personally.  So selfishly, I want/need my writing time to allow me to settle in wherever I want without distraction.  If I'm right in the middle of an important thought, I begin to resent the distractor (human or not).  At that moment in time, the distraction was an impediment to my train of thought.
The easiest solution to this dilemma is to get up earlier than everyone else.  This morning, I woke early, threw a load of clothes in the washer, and settled onto our incredibly comfortable couch (too humid today to be on our lovely screened porch) with my laptop.  The washing machine provides a comforting sound in the background, the phones are not ringing this early, the painters have not arrived yet, my family is either still in bed or headed to work.  The space and quiet I have is all me.  Selfishly, that is just the way I need it.


  1. Karen,
    I can so relate to all of this. First of all, I'm glad I'm not the only one who reads aloud as they work. Secondly, like you, I sneak out early in the morning so I can have a few hours to read and write. Once the day in this house begins it is too noisy to work. I think, however, this is why I struggle in the school year. It's hard to wake up earlier than I need to get ready for school and by the end of the day I'm too tired. I'm going to have to figure this out.

    Thanks for the reminders of the importance of quiet for the work of writing. So true. (Loving the new blog!)


  2. Karen,
    I can so relate to you and Cathy. I need quiet to write. I don't want the boys asking me to find the catsup, I don't want any music, I don't want the television, and I don't want the noisiness of the day's happenings. That's why I almost always write in the morning. I wish I could figure out the discipline to write every day and also to write on the same thing for more than one or two days. I want to do some significant writing this summer, but so far all I have done is school projects and blogging. Sigh.

  3. In the quiet of the morning kind of writer -- me, three.

  4. I have been trying to get up an hour earlier too. I agree with Cathy that it's very hard to do that when school is in session. I'm already getting up early to get to work--don't want to get up even earlier! I am trying to be more realistic about writing. I simply don't have long stretches of uninterrupted time since I've become a parent--at least not during summer when school isn't in session! So how can I train myself to focus more quickly and be able to write when I have 20 or 30 minutes available? It's challenging to try to change work habits that I've had pretty much all my life. And I also envy those people who knock off a blog post in 15 minutes. It takes me hours to write some of my longer blog posts. I've been trying to blog 5x/wk as a challenge this month and finding that I am less of a perfectionist when I post more often. I'm enjoying reading your thoughts about writing!


  5. Oops!!! So sorry about the gibberish in my comment. I left my laptop open, left the room, and came back to find my kitten sitting on the keyboard. Thought I'd deleted all her special typing but see that I didn't!