By room, I mean that mental space where in spite of distractions that come like insects on warm evenings you triumph in your daily desire to get words on the page. I mean the opposite of the dreaded block, that space that confirms that you are in fact a writer in spite of all your doubts, because dog-gone-it, you did write today.
I’ve read at least a dozen books cover-to-cover bursting with insight on this subject. Each one, I believed, upon completion, would save my forever-in-peril writing life. In a few instances, I nearly ran my highlighter dry and inked hearts in the margins of nearly every page. Inconvenient as it may be, like most important creative pursuits, there is no fool-proof, step-by-step guide to a productive writing life. Our lives are diverse as our personalities are. We are human and prone to swings of mood and bouts of vitality and illness. Different writing projects demand different processes. Hopefully, we get better with practice. What I have come to understand about what works to get myself in the room and willing to stay there is that one must keep at it and do whatever works.
We are not just writers. We are lovers, mothers, employees, and members of communities and social worlds. If you’re like me you also have other hobbies. Yoga? Cooking? Bird-watching? Role-playing? The very same existential energy that fuels our writing, spurs us on to garden and volunteer. I do not write every day, but I do try.
Just the other day a colleague and writer friend sent me this link that profiles a woman who has created room both figuratively and literally for her art to an impressive degree. My favorite line from the article reads, “lots happens in these little spaces between work and eating and sleeping.” I often sneak writing into my day while stuck in a meeting or waiting for the oven timer to ding. I am drafting this blog entry while watching pairs of my ninth graders decide which of four love poems they prefer most for its style and message. They are preparing a 5 minute presentation on the subject. Do I have papers to grade? Could I make another tour of the room? Well, sure. But.
Following an occasional creative impulse in the midst of a work day is one of many ways I get words on the page and I like to think it doesn’t hurt students to work independently while I step into my imagination. My eyes scan the room for inspiration when I lose the thread of a sentence. I’m sure they think I’m checking their progress. I see how they get busier when my eyes land on them.
Mondays are hereby dedicated to the myriad ways we get into that room to do the writing we have to do.