A Creative Check-In

Last week I posted a creative checklist which encouraged building a sustainable writing practice that I had come across in the Daily Appointment Calendar for Writers by Judy Reeves. This week, I’m going to check-in and see how I’m travelling.

  1. Identify yourself as a writer. This is something that I’m getting better at, and blogging has helped more than I would have thought in regards to my writing identity. I now include ‘writer’ as part of my persona, rather than keeping it tucked away as something private. 
  2. Give yourself affirmations claiming yourself as a writerOn the filing cabinet next to my desk there is an affirmation picked out in magnets: You Are A Writer. I could do a bit more of this to keep it front of mind.
  3. I have a writing space, a sacred place. This one is a big tick. I have a small study with an old wooden desk where I do my best creative work. I can, and do, write where I can, and at home I’ll often write at the kitchen table or somewhere in the sunshine, but turning up at my desk means I’m writing seriously.
  4. I have the tools, materials and support to write. Another tick. I have a stash of stationery as well as technology at hand. I subscribe to literary journals and belong to the writers’ centre in my state. I also listen to podcasts about writing when I’m on the move.
  5. I have writing friends to write and talk with. This is also true. And they write across different genres and formats which makes for some interesting conversations and approaches to writing.
  6. I do writerly things. Yes, I do. I belong to a writing group, I go to readings and workshops when I can. I like reading writers who write about writing.
  7. I write to writers whose work has impacted me and thank them. Not so much. But I like the idea of it and social media has made it easier to do this than ever before. I’ll add it to my to-do list.
  8. I make time for my writing on a regular basis. Yes, I do.
  9. When I can’t keep my writing date, I acknowledge why and reschedule. Usually, yes.
  10. When I’m consistently breaking writing appointments, I review why and make necessary changes. This usually falls into the category of life getting in the way. I tend to pause to prioritise what I do have time for, and ensure that there is a bit of writing time carved out. I am happier when I write, so why wouldn’t I?
  11. I put my writing time high up on my priorities list. See above. I’m much nicer when I’m happy.
  12. I set aside enough time to build consistency. I think so. Part of me thinks I could put more time aside but I have to be realistic as thinking that I can spend X hours every day isn’t realistic at this point of my life.
  13. I also create special times for writing. I have been trying this out with larger pockets of time for bigger writing projects and it definitely helps.
  14. I write. This one seems kind of obvious but a big learning in the past year in particular has been around getting something down as you can edit, tweak and improve what you’ve written, but if you don’t actually write there is nothing to work with.
  15. When I’m stuck, I find out what’s holding me back. This is another work in progress. It can take me a while to realise I’m circling a problem but I’m getting better at picking up on procrastination and addressing the cause so it doesn’t become an insurmountable obstacle.

How often do you check in with yourself, creatively speaking?

[Photo: Cowra Japanese Gardens]

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A Creative Checklist

Recently I came across a section called ‘How to Build a Sustainable Writing Practice’ in the Daily Appointment Calendar for Writers by Judy Reeves (pp 147-150). A Writer’s Book of Days, also by Reeves, is one of my favourite writing books, and below is a summarised version of a checklist on building a writing practice, but it could be applied to any creative endeavour.

  1. I identify myself as a writer. When someone asks me what I do, I answer, ‘I’m a writer’. Or at least I always include it.
  2. I give myself affirmations, claiming myself as a writer: notes in my notebook or journal, in my writing space or by saying them out loud.
  3. I have a writing space. Even if I actually write all over the place, I maintain a sacred space for my writing.
  4. I have the tools and materials and support I need for my writing. I buy or borrow books about writing and subscribe to literary journals and writing publications.
  5. I have writing friends with whom I write or talk about writing or do writing things with.
  6. I do writerly things: I’m a member of a writing group, I go to readings. I read interviews with writers and listen to what they say about the craft and life of being a writer.
  7. I write to writers whose work has impacted me, and thank them. In these letters I claim myself as a writer and tell the writer what their work meant to me, writer to writer.
  8. I make time for my writing on a regular basis.
  9. When I can’t keep my writing date, I acknowledge why and reschedule.
  10. When I see that I’m consistently breaking my appointments, I review what might be the cause – chosen time isn’t right, life is too busy right now, goals too high, ___ – and make changes where necessary.
  11. I put my writing time high up on my priorities list. Not some vague ‘when I can’ or ‘if I have time today’.
  12. I set aside enough time to build consistency; if not daily, at least five times a week.
  13. I also create special times for writing – a long weekend or a retreat (with other writers or by myself) or to participate in a conference or seminar where I’ll actually write.
  14. I write. When I go to my writing space, when I set aside the time, I don’t just think about writing or talk about writing. I write.
  15. When I’m stuck, I find out what’s holding me back. When I procrastinate, I acknowledge that’s what I’m doing. When I’m afraid, I face my fear and write through it. And when all is said and done, I write.

How are you travelling with your creative checklist?

[Photo: Cowra Japanese Gardens]

Desk bound

I was inspired by a recent post about writing space to reflect on what works best for me. This changes, and due to work and family commitments I have developed the ability to write in most places. Tapping out notes and snatches of dialogue and prose on Evernote if I’m on the move works well, and I do try and keep a small notebook handy just in case I need to physically write instead. That may just be a personal quirk – like most people I type much faster than I write, but sometimes it works better if I slow it down. If I need to really think something through, nothing beats pen and paper for me.

Recently my sister pointed out that I carve out a study of sorts wherever I live. It seemed obvious when she drew attention to it, but I hadn’t recognised that it was something unusual. I have had beautiful old office desks, card tables, computer desks and dining room tables that have formed the basis of my evolving writing life. Whilst I can write nearly anywhere, I do like to keep the serious stuff and revision to home where the distractions are minimal and I can spread out.

My home has a small study off the living room, a space that can be closed off if required. I have bookshelves along one wall, a computer desk and filing cabinet on one side and an old office desk with a hutch below the window. This is where I do most of my writing and journal work. It sounds a bit bland as I write it, but this room is my favourite place. I have lots of different books on writing and an expansive dictionary and thesaurus collection, along with photos and trinkets from my travels. There are whiteboard stickers on the doors which I use for plotting and problem solving.

I am lucky, I know, to have this special spot in which to create and imagine and dream.

Where do you go to write?

With special thanks to the post by Dannie Travers for the idea.