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Just so you know, this post is going to be all over the place.  Bear with me.

I had a stronger response to this post by Darin Johnston — A Writing Routine —  earlier in the day, which leads me into all sorts of thinking regarding how to establish routine — or, as I like to tell my kids, how to live a writerly life. 

At this moment, I feel like going with something else, another post, another idea, but I can see how I’ve been trying to communicate this idea to my students for years now, so I might as well start documenting my thinking here, now.

So.  Here we go:  *ahem*

What the Heck is a Writing Routine, or How to live a Writerly Life.

See, right there in my first paragraph lies a lot of what needs to be communicated about a writerly life.

1st:  Recording Response [to the world, to what you observe, to what captures your attention, to triggers your “Wait!  I’ve got something to say!” button]

When I first read this post, my first response was, hey, I know something about that, I can say something, and that excited me.  But I happened to read this post while I was on the way out of my classroom to pick up my daughter at her high school.  You know.. I’d been grading.  I’d had a sip of old coffee.  I had to oversee my younger kids stack my chairs, pick up a little.  I had to prep my whiteboards and the stuff my standing desk for tomorrow.  A lot of “had to’s” –tTeacher things I was wrapping up. When I was done, I wanted a load off.. to kick up my feet, so to speak, so I checked my WordPress Reader to see what was up.

Yeah, heated response — I had several things I wanted to say in that moment.  The problem is, I didn’t write them down.  By the time I schlepped to the car, drove to pick up my daughter, speed-wove through traffic, I’d forgotten my inspired response.  Now I have to re-create it, which (to the lazy, untrained writer.. or any writer), can be a pain.

Here I am.. but it’s not so painful.

Solution:  get into the habit of keeping that notebook on your person.  Gents, tuck it in your back pants or front pocket, ladies.. there are places where you can store it, hopefully your pockets as well.  Worst-case scenario, you know we have phones with apps on them… although it just doesn’t feel the same to me.  Document impulses.  Just do it!

2nd:  Make new habits.

That’s probably the biggest, biggest issue most of us undisciplined writers have.  There’s too much competing for our time and we make a thousand meaningful excuses.  People need us, we need them.  Meanwhile, our writing lives suffer and we feel another sort of guilt.  Well.. it’s time to just admit we have to feed the little monster.  It’s a part of us, we want it.. Why would we deny what’s a part of our souls?

So.. make the habit.  Figure out how to establish the habit of writing.  Seriously.. I have no idea on how to get this done, you’re going to have to go look that one up.  Research how habits are created (21 or 23 days?  leave notebooks everywhere, including the fridge?  set alarms?  join clubs?)

I think the main thing is you’ve gotta make the decision and give a damn.  Just care about this thing that haunts you and take care of it.

But, that doesn’t take care of the problem of:

3rd:  What to write about?

The new habit of writing sort of solves that one.  You notice and write and scribble (and talk to yourself or to others about your ideas) so much, all the time, that you can’t help but loosen up about what the “what?” is about.  The sheer vitality of writing is what excites you, it replaces something else that once occupied your time (tv, your phone, depression, obsessions) and you feel better.  It works.  You won’t kill what works for you.

Right now, not writing works for you.  Is that really what you want?  See?  Decisions.

Once you get into the habit of writing, it’s not enough just to fill notebooks and notebooks and sprinkle your the seeds of your ideas among the random pages of the internet.  You’ve got to start thinking of a project.  Develop a purpose.  That’s going to take time, great effort, and a great deal of honesty — because I believe it’s the writers who feel they are writing honestly true that keep up the hard work of writing.

You know how it is — it’s worth it to no one, beginning with you, if what you’re writing isn’t your Truth.  That’s probably why I’m behind in writing SOLC most days.  The question to myself is, “What Truth do I have to reveal today?”  or “Is there a Truth that I observed that I care to share with the world?”  There is a general Truth I believe in, in keeping up with the Challenge, but the daily reach?  That’s hard.

So, maybe big Truths and little Truths .. or just the Truth.  Can you name it?  Can you commit it to paper, print or screen?  Can you bear it?

Write Truth.  But if you don’t — keep going!  The many false starts, the countless falters will bear fruit.  Do not give up, your dreams are worth it… they are worthy of you, and your precious time you’ll be putting forth.. Give up worry, give up guilt, give up regret.. just don’t give up trying, give up writing.  Every idea you put down somewhere is an act of writing.  Believe in it, believe in yourself.  You are a writer.


4th Nurture your identity

You’re going to have to nurture your identity.  One way to do this is to start letting yourself and the people you love, respect and honor — the people in your daily lives — know that you write, that you’re really a writer.

Make this identity your “baby” until you believe it, until it becomes a vital, irrevocable part of your life, until it replaces something else, some thing, that has worthlessly occupied your time up until now — another habit, another occupation that is not worthy of your time.

Immerse yourself in things Writing.  Think the thoughts, speak the habit, live the language.

(oo.. that’s a good one.. I think I’ll quote myself here:

Immerse yourself in things Writing.  Think the thoughts, speak the habit, live the language.

.. see, for every thousand words, something golden will appear!)

Write, read of writing, write of writing.  Practice the habits, practice the process.

Seriously.. that means workshopping your projects and revisions.*

5th  Nurture your beliefs and ideas

…because I think this is what will help you write even more.  We know ideas and talk are regenerative.  So is reading.  So, you’ve got to surround yourself with persons, institutions, books, writing, the sounds of your own thinking to support your idea-making.

Finally, for now:

6th  Be okay with walking away to breathe.

Because I’ve got to exercise. grade, get to bed and try to catch up on sleeep by 2 minutes, but I’m okay with walking away.

I have so much more to say about this topic — I’m thinking anecdotes and details — but I  am confident in my own writing ability to put stuff on pause.. but I won’t be presumptuous about it.  I have to be back, and I’ll be back.  Just not tonight.. if only to comment on fellow slicers.

I’m old enough to say, I can wait on this.. but not too long.

But you definitely have to breathe.. Think of your mind like fine wine.  You’ve got to expose it and let it breathe..

I hope this was helpful.  It definitely was to me.. this would make another fine project for me.  🙂


Many thanks to Darin Johnston from The Life of a Conflicted Teacher for the inspiration! (I still have much more to say!)


10 thoughts on “On Living the Writerly Life.. the beginning of a philosophy SOLC – Day 27

  1. >“What Truth do I have to reveal today?” or “Is there a Truth that I observed that I care to share with the world?”<

    Oh. My. Goodness. If this post doesn't get thousands of views, I'll be sorely disappointed (I'm going to tweet it out after this!). There's SO MUCH GOOD STUFF HERE! I'm going to share this with my students tomorrow. I know I'm a social studies teacher, but writing is my love (it's developed over time), and this is something I could share again and again!

    I love your questions, and may need to put those some place in my room. They seem to fit into my world view of telling a story through the truths we see. We'll see where this will take my class tomorrow. It may be group blog time! 😀

    Going to sleep is going to be tough will all this running around in my brain! I'm honored that I inspired you and your writing. I rarely feel that my writing inspires much of anything, so thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I’m so glad you asked a very honest question that kinda fit with where my mind had (secretly) been. I didn’t know I had 1,000 words-worth to say..

      Personally.. it needs revision, but I’m glad it spoke to you. Sometimes we’re searching, just waiting to hear something that moves us forward.

      I love looking for that.


      1. Yes.. I really, really think the world would be a better place. It leads to natural reflection, natural growth, natural love of other.. *I* think (I hope!) .. ’cause most writers search for truth!

        Have a wonderful evening!

        Liked by 1 person

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