On Writing Habits (& Letting Go of Guilt)
Walking definitely has to count for me, because I get some of my best thinking done when I'm walking. Especially if I'm out in the woods and I resist the urge to listen to podcasts. I mean, podcasts also stimulate a lot of my thinking, but when I let my mind wander is really when the good stuff comes. I suspect it's something about keeping my body busy and thus out of the way somewhat that allows my brain to settle into a deeper state of listening.
I am downright Rilke-ian in the shower. What is it?!
Thank you so much for this pep talk, Maggie! I really needed this. I started working on my memoir while I was pregnant, working on a day job and caring for my 3 year old daughter. Even then, striving to write every day was difficult but at least I could take some morning hours over the weekend to write half of the book. Then my son was born. I no longer had the time nor mental space to commit to a weekly writing practice. I think a lot about my work as I listen to creative podcasts while I push my son for an hour. I think and read while he naps on me. That's all I could offer up to my creative work and there was still the nasty voice telling me that it wasn't enough. But today you said, pre-writing counts and matters. Thinking in the shower matters. Thank you for seeing me.
🌺😍Love this. Rings true for me…. I do my best writing walking the dog, pulling out some weeds, sitting for a minute in the sun. It’s amazing how our minds turn over ideas like a gardener turns over soil, making sure each seed has room to grow
I feel that! I start work at 5:30 am, so I wake up a little earlier than I need to to do some yoga and write (or pre-write, or neither!)
Rick Rubin has a great book about navigating through the world as an artist that is brilliant. He touches on a few of the things you mentioned! It's an excellent book I highly recommend for all writers and creatives.
It's called, The Creative Act: A Way of Being.
Sorry for the inadvertent ad!
Yes, and thank you, Maggie, and everyone responding. Walking in nature, experiencing nature--that's an almost everyday activity I actually need to do for my health. But (poetry) podcasts while walking a trail without many people also feeds the muse. Among podcasts, Poetry Off the Shelf, The Slowdown, The New Yorker Poetry, On Being, Poetry Unbound, Poem Talk, etc. Also critiquing and editing helps. Also looking at/eating a piece of fruit, a good meal with friends or family. As long as there's time to reflect on what moves us, the writing will come.
Thank you, I love the way you put it: "Commit to doing at least one thing in service of your writing every day." For the last few weeks I've been pushing myself harder on a particular manuscript but rather than set myself a word count goal, as I've done in the past, I use a phrase: make daily progress. Could be a note I send myself on a long walk, could be some floating dialogue with no grounding scene, sometimes it's a whole chapter. It keeps my head in the book and that's enough.
Thank you! Yes. Doing nothing is where everything happens for me as a writer. Go figure.
The well empties and the well fills up again (and crazy true: especially in the shower:)
Thank you! The thinking and other pre-writing rituals sometimes make up most of my days... but I’m trying to focus on the reading--daily--if I can’t get the words to paper (or keyboard). Reading always inspires.
The thinking/pre-writing is 90% of my writing! I’m going through a phase of not feeling very creative and am trying to funnel some energy into re writing and editing, but it’s not as energizing. And a big YES to being in nature AND showers--I wonder if it is the combination of privacy and the white noise in both of those environments?
I have a 12-week old puppy and it has upended all of my routines; self-care, painting, exercise, and also writing. Thanks for this pre-writing concept! Super helpful reminder.