Ramona Payne on working from home

Ramona M. Payne’s latest reflection fits perfectly with my own thoughts this summer and is just what I need today after a particularly challenging home-based working week. Head on over to her website to read her five easy rules for working and writing from home:

Rule 1 – Don’t do anything during your at-home workday that you would not do if you were in the office. This means that I seldom do chores during the day, unless it is tossing in a load first thing in the morning, or washing my dishes right after lunch. You wouldn’t bring your cute lace undies to work and fold them on your desk, so don’t do that during the work part of your day if you’re supposed to be writing or working. Read more

This post is part of the Summer Writing Reset blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

5 Resources on Keeping Writing Notebooks

How to Keep a Writing Notebook: A Peek into the Notebooks of Famous Writers & Thinkers

Links and info galore.

“In Joan Didion’s essay on why she keeps a notebook, she writes, ‘How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook…Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.’

Ultimately, a notebook is a portable laboratory where we can record our own unique perspective on the world, jot down the things in our lives that awaken our Muse, and experiment with new ideas.” Read more

Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron)

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.” Read more (with video)

Never Be Blocked: Keep a Writer’s Notebook

“Such a notebook may include observations, ideas, notes about projects, emotions, overheard dialogue, dreams, ‘what-I-did-today’ accounts, notes kept during a trip or to record a particular harrowing experience such as a home renovation. Whereas in our pre-teens we might have written, ‘Today I went to the doctor,” a writer’s notebook may contain a description of the attendant at the parking lot, the medical assistant’s odd questions, the doctor’s attitude, physical details about the office itself, and/or an account of the discomfort of the procedure performed. Read more

On Keeping a (Writing) Notebook (or Three)

“In my ‘official’ writing notebook I jot down ideas for writing projects, make lists for writing projects, and write sketches of writing projects. Often I’ll start writing towards a draft but without any sense of where I’m headed. Writing by hand takes the pressure off: I can’t send ripped-out notebook pages to The New Yorker. But when a piece moves from my notebook to my computer and eventually (sometimes) to publication, I can see that long passages are often exactly the same as when I wrote them by hand the first time.” Read more

The Writer’s Notebook: A Place to Dream, Wonder, and Explore

This pdf from the National Council of Teachers of English is designed for classroom teachers but offers plenty of inspiration for writers of all ages. The main article is by my hands-down favorite author about encouraging young writers: Ralph Fletcher.

“The first few days of school I model with my own notebook, showing students my pages covered with words, quotes, drawings, and lists. I keep it close by for easy jotting. I also surround my students with wonderful literature —poetry, memoir, and nonfiction. As we do our read-alouds, students might pull out their notebooks to write down a line they love, an idea that’s been triggered, a snip of conversation, or just about anything.” Read more

DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

What about your writing makes you go gaga?

A bit of a shorter post today inspired by a lunchtime conversation with a friend. We found ourselves talking about the aspects of writing that bring us joy or happiness or whatever other word one wants to use—and those that don’t. The question we were circling around was this: How do we know when a project or story or goal should be shelved, unfinished for now, in favor of something new?

Our conversation reminded me of this description of how “writing creates you as you write it” by poet Reg Saner (from the March/April 2010 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle).

“[T]he interface between words and your sense of this world is a virtual place, and the locale where writing happens. Figuratively speaking, it’s an ecotone, the biologist’s name for a transitional boundary between diverse communities of life forms. It’s therefore also a zone where unexpectedly interesting things may happen….In essence, it’s a place where self-organizing, which is to say self-evolving, happens through interaction with the written word.”

In other words, we don’t just write about our experiences and transitions; our writing is part of and contributes to our experiences and transitions. Writing becomes part of our “self-organizing” and “self-evolving.” Writing is inextricably linked with our becoming. Saner suggests that we have different topics or places or issues of “interactive intensity.” For example, although he grew up in the Midwest, he rarely writes about his birthplace, because it doesn’t make him go “gaga.”

It seems fitting that after thinking about deep work and the difficulty that often comes with getting words into the world—and after reminding ourselves that writing is by its nature often not fun—we can also remember that it is okay to want and expect our writing to bring us joy and satisfaction. When it doesn’t, we can ask what needs to change.

If you are a writer or an artist or a creator of any kind, and what you are creating isn’t making you go gaga at least some of the time, if it’s not a place where interesting things are happening, maybe a different subject or place or idea is calling to you, one that you are drawn to because of who you are now or who you are becoming.

Questions for reflection:

  • Does writing bring you joy at least some of the time?
  • What about your writing makes you go gaga?
  • In what aspects of your writing do “unexpectedly interesting things” happen?
  • Is “interaction with the written word” a space that nurtures your own self-organization and growth?

Tomorrow’s Post: What is a DIY Summer Writing Retreat?

DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post (a version of which was first written June 13, 2010, and later revised) is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.