writing well (sols)

Lots of writing time today.

I’m learning what I need to write productively. Brenda Power is graciously hosting a writing retreat for Choice Literacy contributors. The theme of the retreat is Habits.

I consider myself a low-maintenance writer. I don’t need a lot. I prefer to write on my computer, but can easily use a notebook instead. I can write with noise or silence. I can write in solitude or in crowds. I can write at a desk or curled in a chair. I can write in many genres and on many topics. I can squeeze writing into almost any moment of the day since I usually have an idea (or twenty) stirring in my mind.

Yet, having some time apart from the daily routine of life, is helping me see how I can be even more productive. I have many habits already in place that allow me to live a writing life. It is fascinating to listen to “Brenda’s Brilliance” (as Franki coined her minilesson sessions) and think about how habits apply to my writing life.

I’ve stumbled upon my writing habits. They work well and they are efficient. What I’m learning is although I can write in a variety of conditions on a variety of topics in a variety of genres, what I need is the variety.

It is important for me to write in my go-to spot (the other end of the couch from where Andy sits to watch a game) and it is important for me to move outside or to the kitchen table or away from home.

It is important for me to write in solitude and it is important for me to write in crowds.

It is important for me to grow ideas in my notebook and it is important for me to grow ideas through conversation with others.

It is important to cuddle into my comfort zone as a writer and it is important to courageously step into new territories.

By being conscious of my need for variety, I will be able to sustain a productive and creative writing life. How about you? What do you need in order to sustain your writing life?

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  1. I love this point you make about needing the variety. I worry that I don't have a set time to write. But I am like you, I can write in a variety of situations. I just need to keep doing it.
    With school starting soon, I am looking forward to writing with my students. This is sacred to me. It's almost like community prayer. It strengthens me as a writer.
    This online community is much the same way. It gives me the variety I crave and need. I can write a Slice with advice or a poem. I can write about a teaching moment or a parenting one.
    Thanks for helping me see the value of variety to my creativity.

  2. Like you, I'm comfortable writing almost anywhere in my house and I can use either my laptop or journal. What is critical for me is time and quiet. I work slowly and carefully. I don't think I could write at Starbucks or the local diner. I'd be too distracted by watching everyone come and go. That being said, maybe going to Starbucks and watching people come and go is just the bit of variety I need!

  3. I never had a writing life before joining up with the slice of life. I need the weekly slice to push me to create a slice. I need the monthly challenge to challenge me every day. You keep me writing. I watch life unfold around me to keep me writing.

  4. Love this thought. I've found that while I can write in many different areas, with different levels of noise, I write better where it is somewhat quiet and I can focus. I didn't realize that about myself until this retreat – and for that, I'm grateful.

  5. You really are low maintenance! I like my red cozy chair and really, really prefer to be alone. I can write in crowds, provided other people are madly trying to write, like at All Write in Penny Kittle's session. I do like writing from a prompt, but not always. I hate to be forced to write Tanka or Haiku or persuasion when I am not in the mood. I do write on the computer, almost always these days thanks to the Slice. I felt very committed to finishing my middle grade novel this summer…but life. I would love to have the space of a retreat….sounds incredible. xo

  6. I wrote about the Choice Literacy writing retreat, too! I just need to carve out TIME. I like your thoughts about writing in a variety of places and circumstances. We could all benefit from that!

  7. I need silence and I need to be alone. I also need to make time to type for my cat. He hasn't written in weeks. Thank you for sharing all the things you need to write. It helped me think.

  8. I need the push of my weekly date with SOL. Like Elsie, my life as a writer was born when I started slicing. I need the inspiration and feedback that I receive here each week. So I'm wondering how to help my students figure out what they need to sustain their writing life.

  9. Sounds like a great retreat. I like the habit/variety connection. Variety in writing reminds me of the variety our students need as readers (and writers). I want to copy your second paragraph and use it the first week of school as we start to build our community. I wonder how my students would complete that first sentence: I am a _____ writer. Simple, powerful way to reflect on our process. Thanks, Ruth.