Writing Inspiration

Writing Again >> Life In LimboI started writing for fun again! I haven’t done any creative writing since probably November of 2013, unless you count the creative nonfiction piece I wrote about my wonderful mother. I think in my mind I had at some point, probably after my second NaNoWriMo, unconsciously associated writing with word counts and deadlines and typing gibberish even though I wasn’t in the mood. Thinking that way was the only way, I sort of shut it down completely.

But it started creeping back in, especially over the past few weeks. I spoke to a friend who wants to move to Spain and write his novel. I found some old snippets and scenes on my computer and didn’t completely hate them. Another friend talks about her daily writing practice and has given her book of essays a publication date in her mind. I read a piece that asked you to remember what it was you loved to do when you were very young.

So on Sunday, eating brunch by myself at my favourite café, I took out a notebook and started writing. It made me feel so good that I found a podcast on writing that I listened to while walking and bought a new notebook for writing scribbles on my way home. Later the podcast sparked a conversation with a friend of mine and she told me about the fan fiction she used to write.

It’s been so fun these last few days to just write, to practice, to live in a little world of my own making. It’s been great to let myself completely off hooks of any kind and just enjoy it without worrying about how much I need to write or what I’ll do with it. It’s been freeing (and laughably obvious) to realize that I don’t have to be a published novelist as my career or do absolutely no writing, but can find a little sweet spot for myself somewhere in between.

In the spirit of the thing, here are some links to awesome writing inspiration I’ve found or re-visited lately:

All Write Already is “a completely unpretentious literary podcast” where they talk about writing and interview authors about things like their writing processes and thoughts about storytelling. I’ve listened to a few episodes now and have found inspiration in every one so far.

I used to follow Sarah Selecky a lot more closely, back when I wrote more, and had subscribed to her daily writing prompts. This week I revisited her site and found this gem of an article about writing longhand (which I’ve been loving) and signed up for her twice-monthly letters.

I haven’t read either of his novels, but on the recommendation of two friends with impeccable literary taste, I read Junot Diaz’s short story A Cheater’s Guide to Love this week and liked it a lot.

I also used to read Fiction Fridays by Rachel on the Elephantine blog. She would post a scene or a poem on her blog each Friday and they were always very inspiring and very good. She’s since stopped because she’s working on her novel but I read through some of the archive this week and enjoyed them as ever. I don’t think I’m ready to do something similar on my blog here, but maybe one day..

Happy Wednesday!

HWY Magazine Piece: How My Mother Fed Me

How My Mother Fed Me

I’m over at HWY Magazine today writing about my beloved mama and some of my (many) food memories.

HWY is a new publication created by two of my coolest, Vancouver-based friends. The quality of the pieces in the magazine totally blow me away, so when Adrienne asked me to contribute I was rightly intimidated.

I almost instantly had a memory about jelly doughnuts, one of my favourite moments from my childhood. I scribbled it down and then let the idea marinate for weeks, slowly gathering up other little fragments before finally throwing them all together long-hand in a big notebook one day during my breaks at work.

I’m proud of the piece, which has been shaped by my friend with her impeccable taste and editing prowess, and by my mother of course, who informs this piece but also just about everything else I do.

John Green says that creativity is about making gifts for people, and this is a gift for her. A tribute to all the millions of tiny, loving actions she gave us that we never thanked her enough for and that I’ll never be able to repay.

You can find the piece here. Thanks for reading.

How to Do Morning Pages

How to Do Morning Pages

This week on Guinea Pigging Green, Laura and I are talking all about morning pages! If you’re not familiar with them, the idea is to do 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning, by hand in a notebook. The purpose is to get rid of your internal judging voice, and get all the junk and insecurities and worries in your head down on paper before you start your day. I’ve done this before, for several months back in 2012 around the time when I did NaNoWriMo for the first time! Back then I was going through some things personally and I found the process incredibly helpful in working out some of the stuff in my head at the time.

About a month ago, Laura sent me an article she’d seen on the Daily Muse about morning pages and asked if I’d like to do them together for a month to see what would happen. I was definitely interested and happily recommitted to this practice I’d let slip out of my life nearly 2 full years ago. I’m happy to report that I love doing the pages more than ever.

So, how can you do morning pages yourself? It’s very, very simple. The official definition specifically says:

There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages—they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind—and they are for your eyes only. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page.

How to Do Morning Pages

Previously, I’d been using 750words.com, an awesome site based on the idea of morning pages which tracks your progress and saves your words every day. It’s an awesome way to ease into it if you’re new to the idea and want to give it a try. That being said, I think my experience writing it by hand in my notebook this time around has been a thousand times more enjoyable and helpful. As Laura put it, it’s just so much more cozy to write your pages by hand each morning in a nice notebook with a nice pen. I also love that that means I’m doing my morning writing before opening my computer. It has been so refreshing to take that time for myself before checking in with all the distractions my computer brings.

I’m also delighted that doing my morning pages has been an anchor for my morning, giving me something to do before I get swept up in the day and distracted by other things. It’s led to a bit of a domino effect lately too where I have begun meditating right after finishing my pages using the Headspace app. Then after that, I’ll have breakfast and do my 7 minute workout. And voila! A productive morning where one good thing flows into another. I find that no matter what else I do all day, I’m always so grateful to have taken that time to check in with myself before I start the day.

You can find out more about my experience with morning pages by tuning into the podcast here, and you can learn much more about the pages themselves on Julia Cameron’s blog here.

The Book Learning Podcast: #6

After a longer-than-expected hiatus, Gabrielle and I finally recorded part 2 of the editing your novel series! We discuss the next steps in the editing process, and Gabrielle (as always) has some great tips to share. I ask a lot of questions, hopefully clarifying things for you guys. Personally, I’m still totally overwhelmed by this process, but I do admit in the podcast that I managed to do my first read-through of my novel since I wrote it in November of last year! That was a scary act for me, but once I got over cringing at my dialogue, it was fine. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is an old pro.

You can watch the podcast on Youtube above, or listen to it (and subscribe) on iTunes here. We love creating each episode, and hope you find it interesting to listen in.

Okay now I’m off to drink some hot tea and maybe take a nap – I currently have a gross head cold. Boo! Hope you’re feeling happy and healthy today.

Happy Monday!

Confused by all this podcast talk? If you’re new to The Book Learning Podcast, I have a FAQ written up here.