Over the weekend I took a writing class. The pandemic has yielded many classes and programs since so many were isolated. Some people went through bread baking phases, but many of my friends collected all the classes.
The class was a two part guided writing exercise to create more knowledge around a world a writer creates. One of the points Nina made was to have a list of 5 anchors to keep the heart of your story in the forefront of your mind. A list to keep you centered. A list to bring you back to the story you want to tell.
When I was writing in my notebook about the experience I thought about life anchors.
What are the 5 things that anchor you to the heart of your life?
What are the 5 things that anchor you to your teaching life?
Are they the same?
This is what I am thinking and writing about today.
Welcome to the first weekend of fall! There is a coolness to the air and the temperatures are staying under 80 which is refreshing. I am ready. On my walks this week I was thinking about how I am looking forward to snow.
I have some french vanilla coffee, caramel coffee, or black coffee. Which would you like today?
The leaves are starting to change. There is lots of yellow and red where I am. The trees seem less confused as the days go on and are not half green anymore. There are some vibrant reds that always put a smile on my face.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am enjoying virtual teaching more than I expected. I have consistent students that show up and participate. The kids are enthusiastic and we are getting lots of reading, writing, art, and problem solving in. SeeSaw has been a platform that seems easy to use for the kids. There are some things that I do not care for but the positives outweigh the negatives.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I started my last 100 days of 2020 project! Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the last 100 days. I am creating a writing prompt for every day for the rest of the year. Having a 100 day challenge motivates me. To celebrate, I hosted a write in and it was a fun hour of writing with friends.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been writing a lot about my character Rachael. She is a baker with a hint of magic and a lot of pain in her past. Her introduction to my writing class was well received and they all want to know more about her. She has been the subject of most of my freewriting and I have been gearing all my prompt writing to her as well. I took a class on Saturday with Nina LaCour and was able to dig into the yet unnamed town where Rachael lives. I am finding this process fascinating.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you this week felt busy with a lot of moving parts. There seemed to be a lot going on. I had to rely on my lists. There were some things that slipped through so in my weekly review of last week and plans on how to make the coming week a Level 10 I have put some safeguards in place. I need to put some of the small detail things in my planner so I won’t forget them.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I read Watch Over Me in 24 hours and loved it. I highly recommend this book. There are ghosts, sadness, joy, relationships, the ocean, and more. Plus the cover is awesome!
Make list of 10 things that you noticed about your day already.
Even if you woke up at 4 am there are certainly things you noticed.
Try to be as precise and sensory as possible and try to avoid metaphor.
And then, at the end, connect those pieces together to make a story.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am planning my October workshop and the topic is HAPPINESS. I have done a lot of research on the science of this idea and some exercises that go along with it. At the end of the workshop, each participant will have a personalized action plan.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was asked to be a part of an educator/writer roundtable on Saturday morning. You can watch the replay here. While you are there, be sure to check out Tim’s resources and blog. He is an amazing podcaster and writer. Check it out!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you this lists looks like I was productive – and I was – but it was a struggle. There were some emotions I was working through and disappointments. The biggest disappointment is an opportunity for me to determine what my role is in the negative and try to figure out how to turn it around. I continue to log my wins for the week and walk even when I don’t feel like it.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am still logging delights! One from this week was the arrival of my brown pens! I ordered a sampler pack from Jetpens and they are fun and fall!
I hope the start to your fall season was wonderful! Thanks for joining me for a chat and some coffee.
Hopefully, we will run into each other throughout the week but if not, we always have SUNDAY!
Happy Saturday! It has been Fall for several days now. One of the actions I wanted to take this season was to FALL-IZE my notebooks. I ordered brown ink pens. They arrived yesterday and it is blissful.
During the pandemic, one of the tasks I gave myself was to transcribe the stories and ideas into the computer. I can search the content then. With daily writing for years I have a lot of words. Some of them are brilliant and some of them need to just go away.
Several of my writing friends use 3 ring binders for their writing. One friend admitted to me when she doesn’t like it she can rip it out and throw it away. She said she should probably stop that so she can see her progress.
One of the ways I love to get rid of writing pages is to burn them. Literally. We had a fireplace in one house we loved and there is satisfaction in throwing the pages into flames and watching them turn into ash and smoke.
Another way is I crumble the page up into a ball and throw it away. Not as satisfying but it works when you have no fire. Crumbling it up also discourages someone from picking it out of the garbage and read it. There would be effort to flatten it out!
Last evening I hosted my Kick off Write in for my #100writingpromptproject. It was amazing. Several writers gathered on Zoom to write to the Day 1 prompt for my last 100 day project. The conversation was fun and I was happy to know that the prompt had an effect on people.
One friend said she thought about the prompt and noticed things a little differently all day. One friend looked so much more relaxed and happy by the end of the call.
It was the delight of my day.
Over the course of the week I have been nourishing myself with other writer meetings and webinars. I listened to Lydia Davis read her own work from the Paris Review. I have listened to Nina LaCour’s voice talk about her new novel (which is amazing BTW) and how she wrote it. I have had conversations about writing and insights with several other writers
There have been conversation about pens and notebooks and the obsession with all things stationery.
Last night I was talking with a friend after the write in and she was saying how she needed a new notebook for this challenge for the last 100 days. She could only find her Morning Pages notebook to write it but was delighted to be writing by hand. Then she talked about a plastic 3 ring binder that will fold on itself.
Everyone has their tools that help them write. Maybe it is a kind of pen or a special color. It might be a particular notebook.
Right now, I have an “at-home” notebook. It stays next to the bed. Any writing done in the apartment goes in that black notebook with the amazing stickers on the front. I have had this notebook since June. The pages are gridded and thin and lasts longer than the average journal for me.
Then I have the black notebook that goes in my work bag. This is the traveling notebook. I have almost filled it but it has important lists I am using over the next couple of weeks. Because it is almost full there is a new blue notebook that also is in the bag.
THEN I have another notebook that I am planning for NANOWRIMO in. NANO is a sure thing for me but I have not decided on a project yet. Through my Intensive class I developed two characters that I adore and have been freewriting with a lot. I have used Rachael Stephen’s Plot Embryo to plot out the story which is new for me. I have known about this method for a while but could not wrap my brain around it for the longest time. You can plot on one page and there is one key word for each piece of the pie. This works for me right now. The two characters and the plot embryo needed its own little notebook. It is actually a Lego notebook which makes me laugh.
What are the tools you need to write? I would love to know.
Today is the first day of autumn. It is a big day in kindergarten! There is something magical about the changing of the seasons and the passage of one season to another. We will celebrate with reading and writing.
Personally, my last 100 day challenge starts tomorrow! I am hosting a write in tomorrow night that is the kick off for my #100writingprompt project. For all my $3 and up Patrons, they will receive a new writing prompt every day for the last 100 days of 2020. I am also hosting write ins or just time to be creative at least once a month.
I am ridiculously excited about this project.
Writing practice and the celebration of such seems like the perfect way to close out 2020. As we move through the year, some of the prompts will be used with my students as well.
In Create A Writer’s Life by Cynthia Morris she says, “recount your day or write your wishes or complaints. Use your writer’s eye to jot down details, sensations, conversations or ideas. The point of journaling is to get in the habit of sitting still and writing.”
On my walk today I listened to Nina LaCour’s Keeping a Notebook podcast. I went back to the beginning of the publication and listened to the first two epsiodes.
Both of these women are inspiring me today.
Today in my notebook I wrote about characters I am developing for a class. The one woman came to me first but her best friend bullied her way into the primary spot. Sometimes characters work this way. In my mind, I see them as real people. They are showing themselves to me bit by bit through thoughts and freewrites. Today I wrote about what is in Rachael’s pockets.
I wrote about balance and relationships. I wrote about uncertainty in challenges and that I need to open my eyes and have courage.
I wrote about the adventure hike we had at Devil’s Lake park yesterday. We saw a woman fall and claim to have broken her ankle. We climbed slippery rocks that felt cool to the touch and walked along a railroad track.
Later I will make some notes about what I learned today, how far I walked, and how I will make this week a Level 10.
It is officially fall next week. It has been a gentle transition it seems into the new season. The leaves are changing a little at a time, there has been soup for dinner, and I ordered brown ink to FALL-ize my notebooks.
Coffee is constant.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been thinking a lot about all the words I have in notebooks and Google drives. I am a manifesting generator in Human Design and have been thinking about the idea that I need to wait to respond. I gather many ideas everywhere. I have joked that my next short story collection will be titled, “Too Many Tabs Open.” There comes a time when I have to chose something to take to the next level. There is a magical element to how this works for me honestly. I will be searching for something else and a piece will show up in the drop down menu. It happened this morning – the story that has sparked a response is called, “Feelings in Triplicate.”
I will also continue to transcribe my notebooks into the Google Drive. In part, just so it is searchable. Also, the notebooks are piling up and am running out of room to stash them.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had amazing conversations with clients and friends this week. I was part of two Zoom write ins this week that saved me from my own anxiety. One of which involved a 20 minute plus conversation about pens. It was glorious.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you everything seems too loud this week. The click of the light switch in the early morning, the Tru Green people too early Saturday morning, the coffee pot sputtering as it cooks the droplets of water, commercials….there is too much. The noise is an interruption to my flow. I wrote about this idea in my newsletter this week.
I hope your week was inspiring and not too full of interruptions.
I always feel like I get deep advice and conversation from this podcast. It is one that I do not miss. I knew the new season was starting and kept thinking yesterday was Thursday because of it!
Keeping A Notebook
Nina LaCour is amazing. You need to listen to her podcast just to listen to her voice. It has a dream like quality that takes me to another place.
Her podcast is intermittent. During the pandemic she shared writing prompts and her feelings about the isolation with a spin off called Shelter In Place. She is real and honest. Another podcast I never miss an episode of.
I have been obsessed lately with MFA programs. This podcast is an interview format. An MFA student is asked questions about their writing and their program. How it works and details about workshops and boundaries pertaining to the individual program.
2 Writing Prompts
Set a timer for ten minutes. Let you pen move and do not censor yourself.
Cait Flanders is an author that has a style of writing that is also magical. Her new book came out Tuesday and I am already a couple chapters in. I pre-ordered this book which is not something I do often.