Thoughts on Writing

What great timing yesterday, when after completing my blog post, I picked up the February 2010 issue of the Writer’s Digest magazine and found two articles that inspired me.  I have this happen a lot in my life; a magazine will arrive in my mailbox and address the exact subject I have been pondering or having anxiety over. It is uncanny. It used to happen a lot with Home Education and editor Helen Hegener’s editorial and with Mothering magazine. I would be anxious over something and a magazine article or essay would address that very subject in the exact same week I was thinking about it. I used to think that Helen Hegener and I had a psychic connection of sorts, it happened so often with her editorials. Or, perhaps, it was simply that we were “like minds,” mulling over the same subjects.

Whether you are an aspiring writer or an old pro, writer’s magazines can be a wonderful tool. My favorite, hands-down is The Writer, but Writer’s Digest  comes in at a close second. Almost every issue has something in it that speaks directly to me.

Remember how I was bemoaning my lack of time for writing yesterday?  “Marry Your Life to Your Writing,” addressed this and suggested that instead of whining (and yes, I whine) about your lack of time, you make writing a partner in the time you already have.  While I have been doing this for years by snatching moments for writing, I realized I could become more efficient at doing it.  I cannot count the number of times I have written in ten minute increments and either started an essay, revised one, or completed one in that short period of time. I got to be a pro at this, even pulling over to the curb when a baby in the car seat in back fell asleep, and writing frantically while they slept. I’ve sat on the toilet lid and wrote while  a toddler bathed, and used my waiting time at offices for writing. Once, a poem popped into my head in the middle of the Fareway grocery store and I asked the bagger to set my cart to the side while I sat on a bench and wrote it down.

Another idea from this same article is to love whatever writing you are able to do, whether it is in work e-mails or writing a letter.  I do find time to write letters and sometimes use letter-writing in the morning as a jump-start to other writing. Writing on my blog has been a good way to rev up my writing engines and some of my posts have morphed into an essay or article that I’ve submitted to a magazine.

The sentence that says it best in this article is this one; “Don’t waste time wishing for altered circumstances.”

Enough said.

The other article that seemed to speak directly to me was “DIY Writing Retreats.”  I’d recently written to my friend Mary that I wished I could go on a writing retreat.  This article reminded me that I don’t need to break the bank or go away for a weekend to give myself retreats. The idea of a “real” retreat at this point in my life seems impossible, but what I can do this year is give myself more writing time away from home.  My husband gave me a restaurant gift certificate for Christmas and his support of my writing was the best gift of all.  That $15 will cover four mini “writing retreats.” Some of my best work has been started over a breakfast out, and David knows this. This article suggests that you make a commitment that you need, deserve, and can have a writing retreat, even if it means being locked in the bathroom for 20 minutes of solitude. Once you train those around you to honor your time alone and establish a regular routine of mini writing retreats your subconscious mind will get to work to help you achieve your goals. Other places mentioned for a small retreat include: libraries, community parks or playgrounds with a picnic table, homes of friends or relatives that are away, a local bookstore, or my favorite~ the restaurant or coffee shop.  I prefer the restaurant, where my cup of coffee is filled at regular intervals.

After reading these magazine articles yesterday, my enthusiasm for writing where I am now was re-fueled and I somehow managed to edit and revise one of my old documents to fit the specifics of an anthology’s call for submissions. I’ll likely have to wait until Monday to submit it since the link on their website doesn’t seem to be working, but that gives me a little extra time to do more revising and polishing.

Whatever it is you long to do in your life, I hope you can find a way to make it happen today.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Writing

  1. uninvoked says:

    I got to starbucks when I need a mini-retreat. It always seems like just 2-3 hours of time are enough to get all my writing goals accomplished for the next week—as long as I’m focused.

  2. Helen Hegener says:

    There’s a term for what you describe at the beginning of your post, Mary: serendipity. I’ve had it happen so often over the years that I generally don’t think it unusual any more when I recognize it, I only wonder how often it happens that I don’t notice it.

    And yeah, coffee shops are my favorite too!

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