Friday, September 26, 2014

Habit of Writing

I have not been in the habit of writing for quite some time but a couple of weeks ago I created a writing schedule to help me get back in the habit. I drew it out on a big piece of paper - it shows my work hours (I work four mornings a week as an educational assistant with special-ed preschool children) as well as my evening commitments. After work and my evening things, I don't have a ton of time left for writing but I managed to block out three to four afternoons per week to write. The schedule needs to be pretty fluid as I didn't allocate any time to do things like eat, do laundry or exercise. Those tasks of daily living can sure take up a lot of time but my hope is that I still keep my afternoons more or less free for writing.
So far, I've managed to stick to my writing schedule pretty well. I used to have the tendency to go back to sleep after getting the kids on the bus in the mornings. I need sleep, of course, but my morning job is helping me switch my schedule so I go to sleep earlier instead of sleeping away the mornings. With my new schedule,  I get Ryan up at 6:20 (Owen wakes Rose at 5:45) and get the kids to the bus by 6:55. Since I'm already up and at 'em, I take the dog, Rocket, for a 15 minute walk then I shower and get ready for work. I'm at work by 8:30 four mornings a week and done by 11:45. After work it's lunch and then I have time to write for a bit before the kids get home from school. I really like that the morning work schedule allows me time to write in the afternoon - my favorite time to write!

I found a great blog post at Write to Done titled How to Create the Habit of Writing. The post was written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and has ten tips on making writing a part of your routine. I found the post helpful and though I would share it with you!

Click on the image below to read How to Create the Habit of Writing or click HERE.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Writing Space Reboot 2

Well, it only took a couple of days before I did another writing space reboot in my office but I think I now have an arrangement that works.

Why move the furniture around just days after my Writing Space Reboot? Well, even though I tried using a floor lamp, I was still having trouble with headaches and eye strain in my newly rearranged space. Terribly frustrating! My gut instinct has been that the issue is the way the light comes through the window and the light above my desk so I did some troubleshooting on how the light hit me in my old office compared to my new space and brainstormed other arrangement options. Long and short of it is I moved my desk once again and now it faces the window pretty much straight on. A lot of the time I don't need the overhead light but when I use it in the daytime it's not bothering me. In the evenings the overhead light is too bright so I'm using a floor lamp which seems to be working okay.
Now my desk faces the window straight on.
I like the new arrangement. When I walk in the door my desk chair is just a few steps in front of me so I can walk in, sit down and get right to work. There's something very good about being able to walk right to my chair instead of having to walk around my desk to get to it. In my old office space I liked the feeling of almost tucking myself into a corner when I worked but now it feels like having my desk straight and super easy to get to is what I need. I have a good view out my window when I'm at my desk and a little shrine of sorts in full view with a fountain, some candles and a plant. I am finding that I am seeking out my writing space now after months of avoiding it. I am glad - and relieved as I was getting very discouraged with how hard it has been to write.
View from my desk - a plant, some candles, a little quilt and a fountain for some white noise while I work
I still have some clutter to clean out but I am tackling this bit by bit. A couple of days ago I set aside 15 minutes and cleaned out my overfull inbox. It's a good feeling to get rid of all of the extra papers and to put things away where they belong. There's more to clean up and pictures to hang on the walls. I'll get to it! But not right now - first I am going to pull out my journal and my favorite fountain pen and write for awhile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Writing Space Reboot

Last November, I traded my large office for my son's small bedroom so that Ryan could have space for a full-size bed. I had great hopes for my new office - but even though I did my best to arrange my desk and bookshelves just so, my new office space never felt quite right.

There were little things that bugged me about the space, like the fact that my desk and bookshelves blocked most of my electrical outlets, but there were big issues, too, like the lighting. The space is small enough that no matter where I put my desk it's right under the ceiling light. I found the glare irritating and, to top it off, I ended up getting migraines when I worked. I really have never had migraines and didn't get them in my old office so the headaches were a very odd thing.

On top of the headaches, I found that I was struggling with my writing and felt like I couldn't organize my thoughts or edit my work without a lot of help from Owen. I also pretty much lost enthusiasm for writing and wasn't able to finish most of the stories I started. I guess that sounds like some sort of writer's block. Whatever you call it, it sure wasn't fun.

At the time I moved into my new office, I was also struggling with a lot of life things (an unhealthy job situation that resulted in my resignation topped the list) and I'm pretty sure that those issues contributed to the space not feeling right, the headaches, and my writing troubles. 

My gut instinct was that I just needed to move things around to make my office space more comfortable - a writing space reboot of sorts - and I'd feel better in my writing space. But I never got around to doing it. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe my job and life issues had to stabilize. Who knows? What I do know is that yesterday I was ready to make a change and when I got home from work just after noon I started rearranging my office with the goal of creating a more comfortable writing-friendly arrangement. 
Newly reorganized writing space
Moving everything took me a couple of hours and in the process I discovered I have a whole bunch of stuff in my office that just isn't necessary. For example, I have a cool wooden box filled with several three-ring binders but I really don't know what's in any of the binders or why I saved them. Geez, maybe the clutter has been part of why I've felt so disorganized in my writing. Seems logical to me. So I tossed some things and generally organized the rest of the stuff so that my office is generally tidy and clutter free.
The quilt I will hang in my office - probably on the wall behind my desk
There's still some boxes to go through, some things to put away and a bunch of stuff to toss and recycle but I have an writing space that feels fresh and new. I am pretty sure that I will need to get rid of the overhead light and get myself a floor lamp to help with the glare. I sure hope that helps my headaches! I also have a quilted wallhanging to hang behind my desk and pictures to hang on the walls. For now, though, I'm going to give this new arrangement a try and see how it works.

Here's hoping the space feels better. If not, well, I can always do another writing space reboot. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More books to read!

I set a goal to read more, write more and ride more in 2014. It seems that I also have also added a buy more books for my collection category to that goal because I keep buying books to add to my must read stack. Today I stopped at Monkey See, Monkey Read (an independent bookstore in Northfield, MN) and picked up a book I ordered, one I was thinking of buying and another I picked up on a whim because it was on sale.


Here's a list of the new additions to my must read collection:

Forward from Here: Leaving Middle Age - and Other Unexpected Adventures. This book is a memoir by Reeve Lindbergh. I really enjoyed Reeve's Under a Wing, her memoir about growing up with her famous parents, Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I'm especially interested in reading this book to find out how Reeve handled the news that her father had three secret families in Europe. I think Reeve writes beautifully and am looking forward to this book.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a novel by Helen Simonson. This is the book I picked up on a whim because it was on sale for $5.99. I hadn't heard of the book but felt like I had to buy it. According to the book jacket description the story is set in England, the main character values a properly brewed cup of tea and is "wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing." I love England, properly brewed tea and quirky characters so this sounds like a book I will enjoy - while enjoying a properly brewed cup of tea, of course!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. This book contains a collection of advice offered by Sugar, an online advice columnist at The Rumpus. Strayed wrote the best selling memoir Wild, a book I enjoyed reading. I've been on the fence about reading Tiny Beautiful Things but yesterday a friend mentioned reading it and loving it so I decided to give it a go and see what I think.

I have a story to work on but plan to do some reading tonight. Yay! Seems like I never have enough reading time.

What have you been reading?