Writing habits

Via Kelli Russell Agodon, the Tin House blog has a post about the habits of highly effective writers (Kelli also did a similar post of her own). It’s pretty interesting to see how different people work. I’m currently not writing full-time. But even though writing doesn’t happen at all hours of the day for me, I’m still very aware of the habits of my writing life:

  1. I write every day.
  2. Except when I don’t. Sometimes, you really do need to let your brain just rest a bit. I didn’t write for about for days after I came back from Round Top. I spent so much time getting inspired and being around brilliant people, my brain needed a couple of days to settle. But then I drafted three new pieces yesterday, after things had coalesced. So, in general, write every day. Just learn how to tell when you need a break.
  3. During the weekdays, writing happens on my lunch break. This is pretty much just enough time to get down the first draft of a poem, sometimes two.
  4. On Saturdays, Jon works, and unless I’m traveling, I have the whole day to myself. This is pretty much when my revision happens. I like to read poems aloud, but I prefer to do that in isolation. It’s kind of nerve-wracking to attempt to read an unfinished poem to hear where the problems are, and know that someone is listening. No, I don’t spend the entire eight-hour day revising, but usually 3-4 hours of my Saturday are spent honing poems.
  5. When I revise, I usually have a cup of tea or glass of water, but otherwise, I don’t need anything else. Sometimes, I want silence. Sometimes, I want music, and that music is almost always Patti Smith, Dessa, or The Mountain Goats. Other than that, I pretty much just need my chair, my laptop, and electricity.
  6. On Sundays, I usually draft a poem or two early in the morning, but in general, that’s my worst day of the week for getting work done. Sunday is almost always a day for getting outside, or going to movies, or generally anything other than sitting and working.

That’s about it. I feel pretty lucky. As far as writing habits go, I feel like I have it pretty easy. Even at my busiest, I can usually find 30 minutes, a notebook, and a pen.

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