Diary of a Memoir Writer: Keeping A Routine

I have decided to experiment at keeping an online journal regarding my memoir writing process. It might be a weekly post. I will play around with it. Here it goes.

Writing for an hour each day, first thing in the morning, has worked for the most part this week. In this time frame I have been able to write about 1500 words, a little more, a little less. Depending on when I go to bed, I wake up at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. I have been doing quite well at remembering to bring my notebook, pen and reading-light to bed but I have forgotten and on those days I lay in bed procrastinating about getting up. There were a couple of days where I missed my goal.

One day I struggled to write. I felt compelled to journal and record some dreams first. Plus I slept in, waking up at 6 o’clock. I only had a half hour to purge memories onto the page. It was my intention to do another half hour of writing at bed time but it never happened.

Another night I put my three year old to sleep, falling asleep with her. Then I woke up at midnight and could not fall back asleep until 2pm. I couldn’t fall back asleep cause I was feeling guilty for not writing yet too tired to get out of bed.
I didn’t wake up until 7:30 in the morning which is when I start my day with my family. Too late to write. This day I wrote nothing but some blog posts.

There is part of me resisting trying to remember. There is part of me not wanting to remember. I ask myself why cause I do not have any disturbing memories to recollect. No abuse, no serious trauma. My house wasn’t burned down as a child or my parents didn’t die when I was young. No, nothing severe.

I guess trauma is in the eye of the beholder. Some things in my past must irritate me and want to be left alone but the only way to get rid of them forever is for me to pick them up, examine them, and see them for what they really are. Don’t let them hide in the shadows and presume I know what they are. Or worse yet, believe I KNOW what they are.

I feel a little lost as well, like I don’t remember anything throughout the day. I expected starting this journey that memories would start to flood my thoughts during the day. Instead I feel I am holding them back. Like there is a door I close when my hour of writing is done.

It is time for me to whip out my resources, get some writing prompts to stimulate my memories. My favourite ones are Legacy by Linda Spence and Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg. I wonder why I am hiding my memories?

My first week was about establishing a routine as well as being aware about my mind holding myself back. Routine is the key. My first day I got out of me my worst memory and that was only because I wrote so early in the morning, when my brain was still asleep. I must keep up my routine of getting up early. I must. I must. I must.


Back On the Saddle Again

Shadow of a Writing Hand
This morning I sat down, pen to paper, and had nothing to say.  I felt as though I was sitting across the table from an old friend who I use to converse easily with but now, after not seeing her for so long, I have nothing to say.  I was shy and felt as if I needed to get to know her again.  I needed to re-familiarize myself with my writing life after camping for four days and having no routine.

A lack of routine has caused me to feel unstable.  I curse routines and always want to boast that I am free to do what I want when I want but that is not the case.  I need a routine.  If my sleep and writing building blocks start to wiggle my whole tower will fall down.  Camping for four days has left me woozy.

As the day eased on I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I feel I know my friend again and tomorrow will be an easier day.  A good nights sleep tonight without a dog barking or crows cawing and I will be right as rain.  See you all around 5am my time:)


Photo curtesy of John Norton


I bought a new note book for my writing last night. Now that I sit and face the empty page with pen in hand I feel anxious. I feel as though it is an old love standing before me, presenting himself in such a way that I know the next steps are for us to bare our souls to each other and I am nervous.  It is been such a long time since we express ourselves that way to each other. What if I’m different than before? What if I’m no longer very good at it?  Despite my feelings I take a step forward.  Standing chest to chest, my love reaches out its hand and I clasp it. Here we go.

Once, just after Craig and I were married, he left me for six and a half weeks for Euruope.  I think it was Italy.  It was for work.  If he was gone for seven weeks his employer would pay for me to go with him.  Alas, we were just a few days short of that opportunity.  When he came home I made strange.  All he wanted to do was be close to me while I tried to ensure he was still the same man and I was still the same woman.  This is how I feel with my writing.  I gotta test the waters a bit. Craig was patient and kind.  He was gentle and soft yet left a lot of hints that he was ready whenever I was.  Finally I just had to jump in.

Returning to the pen and paper feels much like that first time Craig and I were together after being apart for almost two months.  It is a bit like falling in love all over again.  I must work on not wavering and getting distracted.

Recently I suffered from a sore back that came out of no where.   I was up most of the night taking drugs (ibuprofen) and distracting myself by watching Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man 2. Then I heard the voice in my head tell me that I wasn’t tending to my back.  Distracting myself from the pain prohibited me from realizing if it needed anything.  Perhaps it needed to shift positions, or to get up and walk around, or maybe it needed an ice pack.

I turned off the laptop and laid there imagining breathing in good and bringing the good air right to that sore spot on my lower back. Then I would breathe out the pain. I learned this type of meditation from Pema Chodron in her book “Start Where You Are”. I ended up falling asleep for three hours. So thank you Pema.

When I start to feel afraid of the pen and paper and the need to run away sweeps over me I will sit. I will soothe it like a lover caressing my hair and back. I will bare my soul and fall in love all over again.  I hope it will whisper sweet nothings in my ear.