Diary of a Memoir Writer: Falling off Routine

My week fell apart.  I don’t know how long it will take me to ensure I DO NOT LET ANYTHING INTERRUPT MY MORNING time to write.

Last weekend I suffered with a sore back that left me unable to focus to do anything.  I couldn’t stand, sit, lay down, walk, nothing.  So I did not do much writing on the weekend.  Only about a half hour each day.  Things didn’t change much during the week.  My back got better but not my writing.

My little girl was having issues wanting to go to school so I had to stress myself out about it for three days and two nights.  I only wrote for a half hour each of those days as well.  Each day was about 800 to !000 words per day.  Not my goal.  I feel bad because I put some of my enthusiasm at the back burner.  I wasn’t aware what I wrote from day to day.  I carried nothing.  I hope to be done this draft by the middle to end of December.  It will be interesting for me to see what I wrote during this past week.  I won’t re-read any of it until then.  Except for the blurbs I throw in posts.

Well my week sort of went in a different direction from last week.  Which is kind of a bummer cause last week I was on a high with my writing and remembering.  I was so complete.  Joyful.  Delight filled me every day.  This week I just ushered chaos in the door without even thinking.  Well that guest just took over!

One strange thing I noticed is my desire to drink.  I woke up last Saturday smelling red wine in the air.  Now it was eight o’clock in the morning.  No one was drinking and especially since I fell asleep in my little girl’s room there was no wine in there.  So this was just a bit of my imagination.

When I was on my writing high I did open a bottle of wine and drank a glass while I prepared supper.  I did not have a glass everynight but most nights.  This alone is strange behaviour for me.  Is writing This Old House causing me to want to drink?  I could understand it if I felt upset and had tough memories to recall but I was deleriously happy.  Why should I choose the bottle?

I only drink about a half-dozen times a year.  Never to get drunk.  A couple of glasses at my husband’s work function or maybe my husband and I will think some wine at supper would be nice and we will have a glass or two.  Not a big drinker.  Well now I smell wine all the time.  Even last night.  I am watching Eat, Pray, Love and all of a sudden I turn and look at my husband saying excitedly, “I smell red wine.  Do you want some?”  We didn’t have any but this behaviour of mine is most puzzling.  Is this memoir writing blog going to turn into a How Marlene Became An Alcoholic?

K, in summary I only wrote for a half hour each day this week.  Pulling in roughly 800 to 1000 words per day.  Not ideal but I am glad I still wrote.  I could have abandoned it all together which is typical of me when I don’t meet my expectations.  I still have some flow going.  And the five glasses of wine I had last night during supper left me still drunk (Metaphorically, I wasn’t actually drunk last night) with excitement this morning.

top photo courtesy of Sunstone Creations

bottom photo is mine

6 Lessons Learned: Week One

  1. Routine is key. Find a day and time that works for you and do your darndest to honour it. Experiment and don’t beat yourself up for being all over the map at first. Most people find waking up early or staying up late is the best time for them. Start there.
  2. Perhaps set a word count goal per day or per week? I tested out how long i could write before my brain felt empty. it was about an hour. On average i wrote about 12 words per line so i counted the lines,multiplied it by 12 and i have an approximate word count. now i know i can write roughly 1600 words per day. in my mind i like to keep things in multiples of 5 so i say 1500 words per day. Test out writing for a day or two and see how much time you need to write so many words. Then use that as your daily goal.
  3. You may have to write about a scene many times to get to the heart of it. I have written this scene of me leaving my father a few times. I am getting closer to the core of it. Experiment writing it in different points of view. In my case with my writing about us leaving my dad on the drive way, I could write from my dad’s perspective or from my mom’s. Yet the one that comes to my mind first is my brother David. Why did he just sit on the road waving?
  4. When you get the urge to write, do it. WRITE. No matter the time. If you don’t your heart will ache a smidge for the rest of your life. You will ignore it as best you can. You will try and rationalize it away saying it was so bloody early. I couldn’t have done that and taken care of my kids the next day or functioned at work. Let me tell you, if you write you will find you have unbounding energy that day. No matter how you talk yourself out of it the memory of you not writing, it will resurface so subtly, float into your thoughts, even if for a nanosecond, for the rest of your life. You will remember wanting to write but not having any memory of what it was that needed to get out of you.
  5. Mustering up that energy is tough. Damn tough sometimes. I have been known to lay in bed for an hour mulling over my thoughts and procrastinating on getting out of bed. I like to write while in bed. If I can get my act together before crawling under the covers I try and makes ure I have a notebook, pen and a reading light by my bed. So then I can write and stay warm and snuggly if I wake up in the night.
  6. Be aware of the thoughts in your mind. I have experienced every day this week the desire to not remember yet I have a pull to force myself too. Listen to that part of you that pulls you towards knowing. That is your heart. The other part of you is your ego. Maybe it doesn’t want you to do the work cause it feels you got better things to do. Maybe it doesn’t want you to do the work cause it will be too painful. Maybe it is just trying to control you. Don’t let it.

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.

Memoir Writing: Discover Your Life: How is it going?

I am checking in.  How is it going?  Are you writing?  Boy, I must admit this September has been a challenge for me.  There is so much going on at home I am just swimming.  This post was supposed to happen yesterday and there are not many hours left in today!  How do we keep a schedule?  How do we maintain goals?

It is so easy to pick up your note-book and pen and write today and then leave it for a day, week, month, year or even decade!  Too easy.  We leave it, stumble across it, make an intention to pick it up again and then get busy and never do.  Next thing you know it has been on the to-do list the longest and you wonder if you are ever going to finish it!  Are you?

The other day I read a blog post from a fellow writer.  In it she references a blog post she read that inspired her.  I would like to pass it on to you here and see if helps you find a routine, or to reinstate your desire to write a reflection of your self.  Cause I think recording our views, thoughts, perspectives, events and stories of our worlds is very important and for each one of us it will be for different reasons.  More on that later.

Here is the link and please follow her links.  They are very insightful!

Have a happy week!

My Writing Life

Where do I even begin.  It is so hard to return to writing after I have been pulled away for a few days.  Or have I been pulled away?  Maybe I just let myself go because it can be hard some days to sit down and have nothing come out of my pen.  I must persevere.  I need a routine.

I have been thinking about blogging and one of its purposes for me in my writing life.  I think it is to hold me accountable.  When I am gone away for a spell from my blog its floating existance in space is a reminder that I have something important I need to do – write.

Not writing has made me sick in the past.  Which is where Sunlight came from I guess.  Now, I think something else is going on with my health as I try to balance home life and a writing life.  I am getting a lot of abdominal cramping.  I do fear it is stress related as I think about writing all day.  It is the first thought on my mind as I shift from my sleeping state to this world.  I go for an ultrasound on Monday.  See what they say.  I have a feeling they are going to find absolutely nothing.

I think about asking my family to take over some things at home so I can write.  Yet, I find it hard to ask for help.  The whole concept of assistance is my nemesis.  More times than I can count I think trying to write while I have kids at home is setting myself up for failure.  I wonder if I should wait until I do not have family under foot.   Yet, do I want my life to start when they are all gone?!  No.

Establishing a routine as a writer/researcher, stay at home mother plus, I suppose, a homeschooling mom, does not seem to be an easy challenge for me.  Yet I know mom’s who do it.  It can be done.  I really need to find that more determined voice inside of me.  Once, maybe 15 years ago, I took a kick boxing class.  The instructor kept saying to me that I needed to find my power.  He knew I had a stronger kick in me and for me to bring it out.  Every class he said that to me, “Find your strength.”  It still haunts me. Damn.  When am I going to learn this lesson.  I feel my writing life is in competition with my parenting expectations.  This should not be the case.  They can live harmoniously together.  I know they can. Somehow.  Balancing work and family isn’t impossible is it?

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