Where and when I write

14 Apr

I posted last week about a seminar I went to featuring an author who was speaking on her book about “discovering your true voice.”

Her angle on this much-tread topic is her background in yoga, and the basic premise is that, in order to discover your true voice–what you want to say with your writing and how you want to say it–you need to be in touch with your body and its habits and signals.

One of the first exercises in her book is to take a good look at your writing habits: how often you are able to write, where you write, what you write with, and how you use your body in writing. This was a little odd to me, since I conceive writing as primarily a mental activity, where the physical aspects are purely means to an end, but there’s a logic in the idea that your body is giving you signals about the content or manner of your writing, so I’m game to follow where she leads so far. So:

I live alone, which means I have the good fortune of spending my free time writing whenever and where ever it suits me. I am a creature of habit, though, so I tend to write in the same chair, in more or less the same physical position: legs up on the La-Z-Boy, lap top perched on one of those plastic-coated metal-rung kitchen shelves that fits over my hips with just enough clearance to ensure air is flowing between my lap and the bottom of the keyboard. This is a necessary thing, given the number of hours I often work, the heat of Arizona, and the heat of my middle-aged female lap.

Nowadays, I pretty much do all my writing tasks at the keyboard, rather than long hand. I used to write long hand all the time back in the pre-personal computer dinosaur days, and when I lived in San Francisco, I wrote on the bus or at bus stops, or at work. My writing at the present is confined to the lap top in that one same chair, where I sit for hours, eating, drinking, and watching television. I take breaks to run errands, go to the bathroom, or do a household chore or two, but that’s my Writing Way, for the most part.

Not sure what it says about me, or how it might effect my writing. I think sometimes I get “too comfortable” there, and it leads me to waste time on the internet, or “do anything-but-generating-new-words” because I can.

11 Responses to “Where and when I write”

  1. shadowkat67 April 15, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    If it makes you feel any better? I write more or less the same way, except I don’t use the table in between lap and lap-top that much.
    But also don’t spend as long on it and well the MAC for some reason doesn’t get as overheated as the DELL. Plus I don’t live in Arizona, which probably helps. 😉
    Agree, I tend to see writing as a cerebreal exercise. But yoga and me have never quite gotten along. The whole breathing thing eludes me (actually yoga stresses me out, which is weird, I know).

  2. ponygirl2000 April 15, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    I guess the real test would be to try writing somewhere else. Would it actually change your writing? Or just make you feel less comfortable? I just think it’s great you’re able to write regularly!

  3. cactuswatcher April 15, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    I ‘write’ best when I can’t get to pen or keyboard. When I was working I used to mull things over in my mind, as on your bus ride, then write them down from the ‘rough draft’ in my memory. A lot of my really bad ideas got culled out that way.
    Working with a pen is fine if I already have an idea. Otherwise I’ll take the keyboard anytime.
    My laptop is too darn hot to have anywhere near my lap. ;o) I like typing with the keyboard a few inches higher than that, be it a laptop or just the keyboard of a tower computer.

  4. neshaffer April 15, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    Oh, I can’t do yoga to save my life, and we’ve discussed my reaction to “breathing” exercises. But simply being more aware of your body’s role in your writing seems sensible to me.
    My Mac (my present one) seems to go through a yearly keyboard overheating-and-fritzing thing around June. I am hoping to avoid it this year with my handy-dandy shelf.

  5. neshaffer April 15, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Well, I am a bit obsessive about writing, which means half the time, it’s not especially productive, just compulsive. And I can’t seem to sit in this chair or watch TV without a computer in my lap. I feel naked and anxious.

  6. neshaffer April 15, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    I will jot down ideas with pen and paper if I have them at an odd moment when there’s no computer around. And I NEVER trust them to memory. If I have them in bed at night, I get up and write them down. If I have them in the shower, I rehearse them until I’m dry and can write them down.

  7. cactuswatcher April 15, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Rehearsing is the key. I used to do that a lot at work.
    No, I’d never ‘sleep on it.’ I even get up and jot down LJ posts occasionally, though not all make it to the posting stage the next morning.

  8. cornerofmadness April 15, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    I think i’m very aware of my body as i write. If it’s bothering me to sit here either thru pain or just a lack of flow, I get up and go outside and write, go lie on the couch and try, go to the coffee shop/library, changing how i hold my body, the tension in it plays a role so I can see where this exercise is coming from. I’ll switch easily from paper to desk top to netbook as mood and location demand

  9. neshaffer April 15, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    though not all make it to the posting stage the next morning.
    LOL. Some of the things that seem like great ideas in the middle of the night are WTF in the morning.

  10. neshaffer April 15, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    I can’t write easily in public places. I’m too easily distracted by people and conversation. Spoken words interfere with composing/reading words (of course the TV is on mute at home). The bus was usually ok back in the day, because there was a white noise of overlapping conversation and engine noise.
    My chair has been an issue for a while since I sit in it for extended periods of time and I still haven’t broken the new chair in to fit me real well. Better than the previous new chair I had last year, though.

  11. cornerofmadness April 15, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    yes you and I had this conversation before I believe. And I’m the opposite. I can not write in the silence

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