Each writer’s life is different, but Annie Dillard describes accurately the process we all go through in her book The Writing Life
. Writers are constantly building with words, and then demolishing what they have built to create a more desirable piece of work. We ride waves of inspiration and translate them on our keyboards or notebooks. And then we get cold water dumped on us when we realize we need to delete and rewrite.
Living the writing life means that all else I do in life contributes material for writing. I always learn and observe as I live out my roles as wife, bookseller, photographer, cook, gardener, and the rest. I write nonfiction exclusively, with an occasional bit of poetry. What I do, where I go, and those I meet often turn up in my articles, since I’m always asking myself which of my interactions or activities someone else would find entertaining, informative, or thought-provoking.
The writing life is a curious life. I often ask questions such as
- What if?
- What else?
- Why now?
- Why not?
- What is she thinking?
- What is it?
- How did it get there?
My writing life is one with plenty of solitude. It takes time alone to think, to reflect, to read, and, of course, to write. Perhaps others can write with people nearby. I can’t. I need uninterrupted time to organize my ideas and get them written. I also need quiet.
My photographs are also an important component of my writing life. The camera lens often shows me what my eyes don’t . My photos often suggest topics I hadn’t considered writing on, and motivate me to learn more about what I have captured with my camera.
Of course, that one thing all writers need is time to transfer their ideas into writing. I am learning to be flexible and see interruptions and unscheduled activities that take me away from my computer as opportunities to learn something new I might be able to write about.
How do you handle interruptions in your writing life?