6 Things You Should Know About Me as a Writer: Slice of Life

notebooks

  1. I’m percolating, not procrastinating. Yes, I have a paper due, and no, I’m not writing it. Instead, I’m watching TV, going for a walk, washing dishes, cleaning my ears. Anything except writing. I used to call it procrastination and feel bad about myself, but now I know this behavior for what it is: percolation—an essential part of any healthy writing process. Ideas need time to develop. Pieces of writing need time to percolate. Life is so much better when we reframe.
  1. I’m packing a writer’s notebook at all times. I have one question before I buy a new purse: does my notebook fit? I don’t leave home without it. My notebook is the place where I live as a writer. It’s where I practice and play, where I let it all out, where I try to make sense of the world and my place in it. Every published piece I write originates somewhere in this book.
  1. I’m listening to your conversation. Writers get a free pass when it comes to eavesdropping. How else can a writer discover the rhythms of language and the power of voice but with their ears? Of course they have to listen to other people’s conversations. That’s me in the corner at the coffee shop or the doctor’s waiting room, listening to your conversation and jotting down the snippets I can overhear.
  1. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I want to write it right the first time, but writing doesn’t usually work that way. I want it to sound on paper like it sounds in my head, but writing almost never works that way. It’s hard for me to see the point of doing something if the product isn’t going to be good, but there are no guarantees with writing.
  1. I’m probably writing about my son. Being a mother is the most interesting, complicated, painful, exhilarating experience of my life, and I am always writing it, always making sense of it, always trying to find some way to capture permanently what is so fleeting. I write to discover, and my son is always uncharted territory.
  1. I’m still—after all these years—learning how to trust the process. Writing is about showing up. Same time. Same place. Same tools. Again and again. If I keep opening the blank page and trying to put words down, something usually happens. It may not be easy—but it is pretty simple.

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I have long loved ESPN’s 6 Things You Should Know About… format (I no longer remember who first introduced me to this form, but thank you!). (Here’s one my son and I like about his personal MVP, Steph Curry). This year, I decided to try it out as an opening writing assignment in my writing courses. This is my version.

slice of life

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12 thoughts on “6 Things You Should Know About Me as a Writer: Slice of Life

  1. I’m a percolator, too. I rehearse my writing in my head long before I write anything down. It definitely looks like procrastination, but it isn’t most of the time.

  2. I percolator and a popcorn machine. I’m working on so much that nothing seems to get done. Is that perfectionism, procrastination, or fear. I think I need to go get my notebook. Thank you for this Elisabeth!

  3. I LOVE this line: “I’m percolating, not procrastinating.” And I love the notebooks in the photo! Just like my students’ English is developing as they are learning more, so are our lives as writers! Wonderful insights!

  4. I hope around doing other things to get inspiration and energy for writing. Like right now. This idea of 6 things you should know about…inspires me to do it and try it with my kids. Thanks.

  5. I noticed in college that my apartment got very, very clean when I came up against a deadline: write a paragraph or scrub the sink? Scrub the sink won every time.
    I’ve decided that Gretchen Rubin’s saying is true, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” Sometimes for me it’s less percolating than setting the scene for writing.

    And I’m glad I’m not the only eavesdropper!

  6. You’ve won yourself an avid reader from this post. How you write to discover your son is beautiful. I have always been really curious about how writing works when you are a parent as I hope to have a little girl in the distant future. I hope to read more about your writing as a mother, as well as a fellow writer. Thank you for sharing~!

  7. I was in Dr. Coughlin’s class the other night and he made a comment about how he, as a writer, is always listening to other people’s conversations and watching the way people act. It cracked me up that you mentioned the same thing. I never realized that I do the same exact thing and it sometimes gives me ideas on what to write

  8. Pingback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 8/28/16 | the dirigible plum

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