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Monday, January 15, 2018

#dayofwriting

I can't stop myself from taking notes. While having morning coffee, I jot things down in the little notebook that I carry with me most days; I send myself cryptic comments in a text or email when all I have is the phone. I talk through my thoughts—out loud—when I'm driving the dog to PetSmart to give her a bath and write one-word-remembrances on an old business card I find in the car's cupholder. And then, at some point, usually early in the morning unless it is bitterly cold—temperatures below 20-degrees—I head to the writing shed and get to work. If not, then to a local coffee shop.

I'm calling this entire process, this never-ending work of writing. #dayofwriting. 

Every writer I know keeps notes, is always thinking of writing, is hearing dialogue at a grocery store checkout and stealing moments from it. A well-known Chicago writer recently revealed at a reading that she got the title of her collection of stories while in the shower. Or was it while washing her hair? Anyway, you get the idea. Writing is...all the time. It's #dayofwriting. In reality, it's #nightofwriting, too. Dreams come to us and we awaken, searching for our notebooks to write it all down. 


Writing is a 24-hour gig. Not that it's digging latrines or delicate brain surgery. Not that it requires the bravery of a soldier or policeman; not that it employs the smarts of an MIT mathematician. But our heads are always churning, thinking, developing, observing, sensing, shaping, massaging. This is not a complaint or the rant of a look-how-special-we-tortured-artists-are writer. No, it's only a clarification of the work.

Let me explain. 

When I've conducted readings or workshops, I am almost always asked this question: When do you write?

I default to this answer: I'm a morning writer, mostly. I like early in the day. Can't write for more than a few hours at a time. I take a break and sometimes I get back at it later.  




But that's only the actual writing, the physical putting fingers on computer keys and trying to type out something that makes sense. The real answer to "When do you write?" is this: Every single moment of every single day. It's all the notetaking, the research, the staring into the sky, the walks around the neighborhood, the meeting at the college where I work when I should be thinking about curriculum and I'm instead wondering what my character is supposed to say in that critical scene when his father dies. The real work is being done between tiny slivers of time when I am doing something else. 

#dayofwriting

So, with this, I thought it would be fun, on a semi-regular basis, to post a video, a photo, a thought with the hashtag #dayofwriting, and document, for lack of a better word, the writing "process." Not always, but now and then, when I'm doing the work—the physical typing or just talking through something, daydreaming or hurriedly jotting down a nugget of information—I will share it at #dayofwriting on social media—Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I'm currently trying to flush out a manuscript, so it's a good time—or maybe a bad time—to embark on this little exercise.

We'll see. Happy #dayofwriting. 




8 comments:

  1. This is my 'bad' as even though I carry a notebook I rarely take notes. My excuse is that I don't write fiction, but in the shower is when my memories return. Of course I have to be able to remember those thoughts by the time I get out of the shower to dry off. Then I laugh... I wear hearing aids so God only knows WHAT I'll hear, if anything. Hmmm, maybe I should write humor?

    Thanks for the great post as it reiterates what I learned in my writing classes that I started taking when I turned 60. Now, all I have to do is REMEMBER everything!

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    1. Even if you write memoir or personal esssy, note taking can jar the memory, don’t you think? As Joan Didion said in so many words — I write to find out what I’m thinking.

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    2. I think I need a crowbar to open up my memory. Life tends toward jarring my memory rather than writing... but sometimes writing helps.

      My love of creativity started my exploration into writing as I also had to deal with catharsis after the five years of my mom's strokes. I need to figure out how to open up again as I have closed down after my husband's illness. I've been caregiving for two years.

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    3. Tough duty. Find your space and let the light in. Writing can help. But sharing it is most important.

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  2. I caught your post on CWA FB page. I agree! Writing is a 24/7 thing. How often I have jumped off my couch while watching tv to write down a quote. I love language, just can't help myself. This is how a writer LEARNS...by paying attention to the language around us. In this vein, I share a story, one that had me laughing at myself, but may actually alarm some of you. While listening to Achebe's audiobook, Things Fall Apart, I heard a quote and I "had" to capture it, the paper within my reach was an empty straw wrapper. So, if you were on the roadway when I scribbled the quote onto that tiny slice of paper, sorry that I alarmed you. :-) But the quote would have slipped away, and it is now a fave story of mine that I share about the importance of note-taking. Cheers

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  3. Been there! Writers are dangerous beings! Might want to think about the voice-memo feature on your smartphone. :)

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  4. Great to see your following building on thus blog. It encourages your own writing, doesn't it. Good post, David.

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    1. Yes it does. I hope it encourages others. There are a lot of voices silence because they don’t believe they have time or they aren’t good enough.

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