- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.