What You Need for a Productive Writing Life

A Writing Life Encompasses All of Life

Living a 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, photographer, cook, gardener, and the rest.  I write nonfiction exclusively, with an occasional bit of poetry.

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.

What I do, where I go, and those I meet often turn up in my articles. I’m always asking myself which of my interactions or activities someone else would find entertaining, informative,  or thought-provoking.

Components of my Writing Life


The writing life is a curious life. I often ask questions such as

  • What if?
  • What else?
  • Why?
  • 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.

What is a Writing Life?











My writing life is  a reading life.  One can write in solitude,  but not in a vacuum. Conversations and books provide ideas for me to interact with and build on.


Words are a writer’s building blocks. We constantly need to be adding new words to our vocabularies. This is a challenge for me because I’m at the age where I’m forgetting many words I once knew and often have trouble recalling words I use often. When I have time, I entertain myself at Vocabulary.com  to review and add to the words I know. It’s a free, but addictive site. There are also many reference books that can help increase one’s vocabulary. I review  some of my favorites in this post.


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.

One doesn’t need a fancy camera to take suitable photos to use for inspiration and for illustrating blog posts. There are many sites such as Pixabay that offer photos on almost any topic. You can use them for free on your blogs or anywhere else without attribution. You can edit them easily and even add text and other great features online. I like to use PicMonkey to edit and add text to my own images.

I use a point and shoot camera for my photos. Point and shoot cameras are affordable and simple to use. So far they have met my needs. I always get one with a long zoom because nature is my favorite subject. Birds  and other wildlife are usually too far away to shoot without a zoom lens. This is a review of the Canon Powershot camera I’m currently using and very happy with. I also loved my Nikon Coolpix Camera which fit easily in my pocket on my nature walks. It was older than this one, but I lost it one day.


Of course, that one thing all writers need is time to transfer their ideas into writing.  There never seems to be enough time to actually write. 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. But then I still need to find or steal the time to write it down.

What You Need for a Productive Writing Life

What do you need for a productive writing life?