A dear Fairfield friend of mine named Colin, posted a blog post on It’s Just Brunch naming seven things about his writing process. I’ve decided to do the same! I’m at the home stretch of my thesis, and even though my brain is fried, I’m exhausted, and all of my words seem redundant now that I’ve re-read everything for the 5120376th time, I’m thankful for the experience in my MFA. I may not be 100% happy with my work thus far, but I know one day I will be.
A big, cold glass of wine is what I need on nights that I know I will struggle. I have a inkling every so often that my brain will fight the urge to form cohesive thoughts. A glass of wine can help knock that barrier. Just last week, I came up with some of the best pages off an entire bottle of wine (IT WASN’T THAT BIG). That kind of writing catharsis was needed, and I haven’t experienced that in quite awhile…at least since the last time I finished an entire bottle of wine by myself.
2. Running Shoes
Sometimes I just need to get outside. I do some of my best thinking when I’m running/walking. It helps clear my thoughts and relax my brain. It’s hard to relax your body when you’re panting up a hill under the bright, blazing sun nearly passing out from heat exhaustion, but you get the idea. I need to get out of my hole of a bedroom that smells like I haven’t left my bed in weeks and witness daylight for 30 minutes.
I’ve gotten into the habit of copying a poem into my notebook before I start writing. I copy Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Shel Silverstein, Oscar Wilde, etc. I don’t ever have a particular poem that I’m looking for. I browse the internet until I find one at random, and I copy it down. This helps me to be familiar with the words and language, and to hopefully expand my memories when I’ve hit a wall. I’ve written entire pieces based on a poem that I’ve read because it triggered a memory of mine. I don’t think I could live in a world without poetry.
4. Wednesday Nights
Sam has class every Wednesday night, typically. Which means I get the place to myself for a few hours. This is the perfect time to get as much work done as humanly possible. Sam hates to admit it, but he’s a bit of a distraction. It’s never intentional, but usually like clock work, he comes strolling into the bedroom every twenty minutes to either 1. Ask me a question 2. Show me something funny he found on the Internet, or 3. Pause the TV and have me come out to show me something funny and/or interesting he just saw on the screen. I sometimes welcome a distraction every so often, but when I’ve finally found my groove after an hour of struggling, the groove can easily get lost.
My cat follows me everywhere. No matter where I go, he needs to be beside me. I could decide to travel to Pluto and he’d be like, “Great. What should I pack?” There was one time Sam cracked an insulting joke all out of fun, and I sarcastically grabbed my blanket and said, “Come on, Mumford!” I then stormed off into the bedroom and not surprisingly, Mumford jumped off the couch and followed me directly into the room. It was actually pretty cute. With that being said, 95% of the time, Mumford is sitting beside me while I’m writing. I find it weird and uncomfortable when he’s not near me. His constant purring and cuteness keeps me focused and when I really need a break, I just dig my face into his fur.
6. Reading Out Loud
After I finish a piece, I always read my work out loud. I will never know for sure if my sentences flow nicely if I don’t read it out loud to myself. What you think makes sense in your head may not make sense with your voice.
7. Goals, Goals, Goals
My only goal right now is to finish my thesis in one piece. After that, I have goals to read as much as I want, and what I want. I miss reading Sophie Kinsella (guilty pleasure), and to be honest, I don’t know what life is like without deadlines. It’s all I’ve ever known. Once I’m done with school, I won’t have any obligations other than work. But I look forward to relaxing for the first time since probably middle school during summer vacations when I couldn’t have a job yet. After that, I do intend to finish my book at some point, but I’m in no rush this year. I need a serious mental health break.
Share your own seven things you must have/do in order to write!