Daily Habits to Nurture and Support your Writing

Judy Reeves posts “Ten Daily Habits that Make a Good Writer.” On an average day, I figure I hit five out of ten. Not bad. Not great, but not bad.

1. I eat a fairly healthy diet. Most days start with fresh green juice made in my juicer. I eat fruits and/or veggies at every meal. Not much junk food. Rarely fast food. I do find that if I find myself indulging in more sugar or wine than usual, it can usually be traced back to not writing. It’s a chicken and the egg kind of thing though. Do I not write because I have been eating crap or am I eating crap because I am not writing?

2. I workout most days. A good, hard get-those-endorphins-flowing workout. And when if I don’t I feel sluggish, both mentally and physically.

3. I could probably use some more laughter in my life. I would say I laugh daily, but I’m not sure it’s always that deep belly laughter. I do have to say that our sweet dog has brought more joy, if not daily doses of laughter into our house.

4. I read. A lot. More than a book a week on average throughout any given year. Sometimes I think I read too much, hiding behind other people’s words rather than writing my own. I would like to read more classics.

5. I absolutely agree with this tip of experiencing other art forms. I just fail to follow it on any kind of regular basis. I’d like to do more collage, keep an art journal, play with photography and digital editing. I’d really love to play the piano.

6. When I take the time to meditate and/or do yoga each morning, i start my day feeling more grounded, more connected which gives me more of a grounded connection to my creativity.

7. I tried to pay attention through my three observations. I found that I don’t like sharing them online. I’d prefer to keep a small journal with me at all times which would encourage me to pay attention throughout my day.

8. Giving back is something I am working on this year. In fact, a book just came in the mail the other day called “The Generosity Plan.”

9. Blogs have made it so much easier to connect to other writers and artists on a daily basis.

10. I write most days.

One thing I would add is sleep. Sleep is crucial to our well-being and ability to focus. I usually get seven to eight hours during the week and eight to nine on the weekend.

Writing is demanding work. Physically, mentally and emotionally. We need to take care of our writer selves so that we are able to write from our best selves.

How about you? How do you take care of your writer self? Please leave a comment or post to your own blog and leave a link in the comments. I’d love to get a real “salon” type discussion going.

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January Books Read

“Breaking Her Fall” a novel by Stephen Goodwin

On an ordinary summer night in 1998, my daughter, Kathryn– Kat, we all called her, a fourteen-year-old who still liked to wear her blond hair in pigtails– told me that she was going to the movies with Abby, her best friend, but they never got there.

As the mother of two teenage girls, one who is fourteen, I found this very hard to read. We all dread getting that phone call, late at night. The phone call that Tucker Jones receives on what turns out to not be an ordinary night at all, shifts the entire axis of his life.

What I learned: Questions. It’s all about questions. As a writer I need to have burning questions that propel me to write the story and that make the reader want to keep turning the pages.

“Touchy Subjects” stories by Emma Donoghue

Sarah’s eyes were as dry as paper.

These stories investigate the mundane disguised as profound and the profound disguised as mundane. A man becomes fixated on a tiny  hair on his wife’s chin. A writer lowers himself to take a position as writer-in-residence. A young boy discovers his sexuality on the football field.

What I learned: Sentences can be lovely and powerful without being too heavy. And her endings are beautiful. They seem to end right in the middle of things while also seeming inevitable.

“Bad Marie” a novel by Marcy Dermansky

Sometimes, Marie got a little drunk at work.

“Work” turns out to be caring for the two-and-a-half-year-old daughter of a childhood friend. Marie has recently been released from prison and her friend agrees to help her by giving her a job and a place to live. Reading Marie’s story is like watching a train wreck. You cringe but cannot look away.

What I learned: That it is possible to create a character with incredibly deep flaws while maintaining deep empathy for her. A tricky balance but apparently it can be done, and done well.

“Peace and Plenty- Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity” by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I used to be a woman who cried at Hallmark commercials.

So begins Sarah Ban Breathnach’s memoir/self-help book on finding financial serenity. It’s not about making a million dollars or saving a million dollars. It’s about getting real with where you are right now, having compassion and moving on. It’s about learning better and then doing better.

What I learned: To start where you are.

“Corpus Christie” stories by Bret Anthony Johnston

As hurricaine Alicia drifted north-northwest up the Gulf Coast from Veracruz, Mexico, Sonny Atwill stood outside McCoy’s Lumber hanging NO PLYWOOD signs in the windows.

These stories are powerful yet quiet in their intensity. Couples face unbearable losses. People in estranged relationships encounter each other again. In three connected stories a mother and son learn to accept who they are now through illness.

What I learned: How essential place can be. How, when used properly, it can become another character. The weather, landscape and culture of the Gulf Coast permeates these stories.

“Unless It Moves the Human Heart- The Craft and art of Writing” by Roger Rosenblatt

Jasmine, Inur and Kristie took my Modern Poetry class last semester.

Rosenblatt details one semester of a class he taught called: ”Write Everything”. It reminded me of the joy of being immersed in a class with people grappling with the same questions and issues we encounter on the writing path. There aren’t any pat answers to the big questions. It is not a how-to book. It is a gentle companion on this sometimes lonely path that encourages you to trust yourself and trust the process.

What I learned: I never tire of books on writing. They help buffer the isolation I sometimes feel.

“The Laws of Evening” stories by Mary Yukari Waters

The Nakazawas were in China barely a week when they first heard the drumming of a prisoner procession.

All I can say is “Wow!” How have I not read her before? These stories are haunting and memorable. Her characters are closely observed with a quiet dignity. As Sean Jeter Naslund writes, “Like haiku, each story precisely embodies a moment and evocatively transcends it.” Yes. Exactly.

What I learned: Again, how integral place can be if you take the time to really observe it and exquisitely layer it into the narrative.

“About Alice” by Calvin Trillin

There was one condolence letter that made me laugh.

Five years after her death, Calvin “Trillin, a staff writer for the New Yorker, wrote this book about the wife he so obviously adored and allowed his readers to share in his adoration. Although it deals with the profound loss of a spouse, the book reads as a love letter.

What I learned: Simple, unadorned prose is powerful and lets the beauty of a life shine through.

She Writes Blogging About Books and Writing Ball

Welcome fellow SheWriters! I love this idea. Thanks to Meg for getting the “ball” rolling, so to speak:) Sorry, but how could I resist?

So, we are encouraged to leave a blogging tip in this little welcome message. I am still figuring out how my blog fits into my life. Weekly? Daily? Somewhere in between? In an effort to be somewhat consistent I set up a schedule that included a blog post six days a week:

Monday: My goals and intentions for the week

Quotable Tuesday: An inspiring quote that I stumbled across during the week regarding writing, art, creativity, etc…

Wednesday: Inspire, Inform, Indulge- links I discovered that I want to share

Thurday: Three observations I made of the physical, sensual world

Friday: Progress made over the course of the week.

Salon Saturday: Where I ruminate about a particular aspect of writing or the creative process in hopes of starting a discussion among blogs, a virtual “Salon”

So, that was my goal but I believe I may have over-reached a bit. I also found myself over-reaching in my Monday posts which left me less than motivated to post the lack of progress on Friday, even though that was the whole point of doing it. To have some accountability. The Thursday observations are something I think I should continue on my own but not necessarily post. And I still love Salon Saturday although maybe it needs to be twice a month instead of weekly and I need to network more to get it to a “salon” type level.

So, that is my tip. Devise some kind of schedule that helps you show up consistently to your blog.

Another tip is to comment, comment, comment on other blogs.

Finally, when you embed a link within your post, make sure you set it to open up in a new window, that way the reader isn’t navigated away from your page.

Happy blogging….

Quotable Tuesday

I’m on vacation visiting my beautiful sister and her beautiful daughter. Here’s a quote I stumbled across in a book called, “The Artistic Mother” by Shona Cole.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint,  a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.”

– Abraham Maslow

What must you do? What must you be?