Monday, February 4, 2019

Writing Habits

My January writing stats - I got a sticker for every day I wrote 2 pages.

In undergrad and grad school, I studied creative writing and wrote all the time. I'd get writer's block for sure, but often it was not being able to finish a story as opposed to not being able to start anything.

I wrote a lot the years I freelanced and traveled; I kept detailed journals but was also inspired to write fiction. Once I settled down, I woke up early every morning to walk three miles and then come home to write three pages before work.

All of that changed when I had a baby. I still wrote, but it was sporadic. Of course it didn't make things easier that I started my Masters of Library Science a week before my son was born! Most of my writing was book reviews and research papers - still enjoyable, but not too creative and not on a routine, like I used to have.

Even as my son grew older and more independent, I still struggled to write. I struggled to find the time and the energy. The silence the let my own thoughts have a voice. Not that I had any ideas to explore. My brain seemed incapable of doing anything more than writing To Do lists and budgeting money. Great qualities when you're head of the household, but not much fun, creatively.

I tried so hard to find the right creative outlet, because I was sure there were still stories inside me, somewhere. I turned back to photography, which I've always loved and has always inspired me. I tried making miniatures out of clay. I tried to launch podcasts with different formats, none of which felt right. I tried to lessen the creative pressure on myself by coloring in coloring books. Nothing helped the stories come back to me.

Last spring I pushed myself to write a poem a day. It didn't last too long, because I started with haikus just to "get it over with", and then didn't hold myself to the routine. But it still sparked something inside me. When I was making New Years Resolutions for 2019, I knew writing had to take priority. I set the goal of completing one writing prompt a week, then started mining my brain for words, phrases, concepts, ANYTHING that could be used as a writing prompt.

I have a list of prompts in a notebook. I completed one, the first week of the new year. I started another the second week, but haven't yet finished it. It turned out to be more of a novella than a short story, so I wanted to dedicate time to it. What I found, though, was that the routine benefits me more than the goal of writing some-finished-thing.

My resolution has since informally morphed to "write two pages a day". I would still like to finish a handful of short stories this year, but I'm currently more focused on establishing the routine than creating something quality every week.

In January, I wrote 28 days out of 31. I've noticed that waking up earlier helps with my creativity (I woke up early every day I wrote my first short story of 2019) and doesn't give me a chance to put off writing for the day. My goal for February is to wake up early every weekday and write, so I can't use the "I'm tired" excuse when I get home from work.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Shifting Shelves

I know all about switching books out on shelves according to season, themes, colors, etc etc. You can't be on Instagram/#bookstagram and not see that stuff, honestly. While I understand the concept and appreciate the idea, I just never had time for it. Plus, whenever I switched out my kid's toys, he would immediately ask for the toys I just put away, even though he hadn't touched them for two months prior! So playing the same game with his books just seemed exhausting and pointless.

After doing the 12 Days of Christmas Storytime with my son, I realized how fun it was to have a different book to read every night. I'll admit I have some favorites that I love to re-read, just like he does. But... we often don't agree on which ones we'd like to read over and over again. Reading new books together made bedtime fresh and exciting for us, so I realized it was definitely time to go through his shelves and change things up.

I pulled his books into stacks, such as: 
  • spring and summer books, including birthday books because he's a summer babe
  • fall and back to school books
  • Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and winter books
  • series and favorites

I left the series and favorites on the shelves, because we read obviously read our favorites a lot, and with series, there are multiple titles, so while we're reading the same characters for several nights, each book is different. I also left out some of his board books. While some board books can be intended only for babies, the ones I left out have more of a story to them, or are favorites, or are ones he can "read" independently.

We have tons of children's books, so I added some "random" anytime titles to the seasonal stacks, just to have fresh books on the shelf that aren't specific to the time of year. I also culled some to donate, because we already have more than we need, and we go to the library to max out our cards fairly often! We'll donate some to a local women's and children's charity, and keep some to put in Little Free Libraries around town.

As an added bonus, there's now room on his shelves for some of his smaller toy bins. They also fit under his bed, but often get pushed back too far to reach, so this is a great solution. I love how his shelves look right now, but the real test will come in March when I get out the spring and summer books, because... what will I get rid of? I guess I can use his Goodreads account to keep track of what we read this year and put those away to bring out next year after Christmas? Who knows! It's an interesting experiment I hope I can keep up with, especially given the volume of books we own!

Do you change out your child's bookshelves? Or your own? What themes or system do you use to change them out? Share in the comments!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Bird Box: Books to Movies

Everyone has something to say about Bird Box, the book, the movie, or both. So I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, you've read the book and seen the movie. If not, stop here because SPOILERS. I am going to be comparing the two, so be warned: no holds barred.