Friday, 8 June 2012

Good places to write

This good place is by the Chilcotin River in Farwell Canyon.
 I've started a new blog called Good Places to Write (after trying to do it as blog page and then realizing you can't keep the old posts). I'll invite writers to contribute their favourite places to write. My first guest writer is the funny and talented painter and poet Brenda Schmidt. Brenda often writes about nature, as do a lot of my favourite poets. But she does it in a way that is never dry, always quirky and unexpected. Her insights are sharp, often lonely. Her photographs and paintings are amazing, too. I hope you'll check out her post.

People often ask me how I get writing done. I have a full time "day job," like a lot of writers, and I also have the regular pleasures and duties in my life that call me. I've found two things that really help me get work done. The first is simple. I get up when my son gets up for school and I start writing as soon as he's out the door. In the morning my head is slightly foggy, still halfway in the dream world of sleep, a semi-altered state of consciousness that seems productive for me. I usually write until about noon.(It helps that my day job allows me to set my own schedule, more or less) Sometimes I have other obligations before then, but I try very hard to keep that morning time slot clear. I also try not to check my email first thing. Email is a great time-sucking, soul-destroying distraction that can lead me off into all kinds of directions and before I know it the day's half gone and I've accomplished very little of any kind of work. Not that I have strong feelings about it! Recently, I read that many companies are trying out a zero or minimal email model as a way to boost productivity. 

The other thing I do, and this comes back to the Good Places to Write blog, is go on writing retreats. These can be formal, juried retreats run by arts organizations for a minimal fee. I'll post some of these. But sometimes, I head out somewhere on my own, somewhere far enough away from home, preferably without email access, but not expensive. I consider $50-$75/day not too expensive. I might just take two or three days. If I can find a week somewhere, I'll do that and look for a cheaper weekly rate. The change of scenery is good for my writing and I almost always manage to write about a normal month's worth of work in those few days. (don't forget it can be used an as expense on your taxes).

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