Friday, 17 February 2017

Away from the Desk

After a week of feeling like I've had no time to work due to appointments or illness, I've sat down at the computer to realise I have 3 poems hiding in the mess of scribbles I've been doing in my wee pockets of free time.

I've been taking my notebook out more and more when I have a moment and doing writing practices, just stream-of-conscious writing not part of a poem I'm working on or my novel. I start with describing interesting details about the scene around me and then just let my mind wander, follow any thought I get attached to. If I get stuck for ideas I go back to my 'I Want to Write' List or notes in my writing journal. If I have more time, I go through these practices and write out lines that work or have potential and start to expand on them.

One of the poems is connected with notes I made earlier on my third culture theme. I sifted through the lines that were good and started to shape the poem. I must have rewritten all of it or some sections up to three times in the 45 minutes I had while I waited for my son to do his guitar lesson. Typing it out today I realise this poem is pretty much done, though I will leave it for a while and then go back and tinker with it before I'd consider sending it out for publication.

The other poem about my trip to Ireland to do genealogy research is only partial but it has a direction now. Again it comes from a previous writing practice. 

The third poem is from random writing I made while sitting in a seaside cafe for an hour before a meeting at the hospital. I started with the scene but then got caught up in the conversation of two girls across the very small room. They were American and Australian, travelling the world, very loud and full of their youth. The poem is about me looking at them from a position of 'been there, done that, now older and my priorities have shifted'. It is almost done as well.

I've been struggling with lack of inspiration and material, so feel quite chuffed with myself that I've managed to get so much accomplished from a week when I thought I hadn't been able to sit down and write. 

One thing I love about my craft is that it is portable; you can sit anywhere and write. Laptops and tablets make it easy to write out and about on the computer, but I still prefer my journal and pen for practices. Less of a sense of needing to be correct, no spell checker or automatic editing, emails or alerts popping up. 

As a teacher I constantly pushed for my students to take up the habit of doing writing practices, sit still for at least 10 minutes and write about anything. These can be the fodder for future material or can just be a good way to making writing part of your life. 

I had fallen out of the practice because until this autumn I always had a child with me that needed attention. I love being able to go to cafes on my own now and just curl up, soak up the scene and write. I like a bit of activity and people around me, but not needing to be involved with it. And cake is also a good incentive. 

Museums and outdoor places are also ideal for being witness to the buzz of life but to also be able to single out any detail that takes your fancy. Find a favourite place, go to new and unusual haunts, places that clash with your style or theme. Embrace the silence or immerse yourself in chaos. 

And write. Let your mind wander and follow with your pen. Don't edit yourself if you go off topic or seem to say silly things. This is a practice, it's supposed to be rough and disorganised, it's supposed to delve and engage in fancy. 

If you get stuck, start to describe something near you or jump to a prompt like 'I remember' or 'I wish' or if your a fiction writer use your character to remember, wish or try to forget something. Use some of the conversations going on around you, pick up words from the text on the newspaper next to you. Borrow, embellish, expand, adapt. Enjoy. 

Have a good writing week. 

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