You don't have to quit your job, put off having children or wait until retirement to be a writer, according to Ashland author, editor and writing instructor Midge Raymond.
In her newly released book "Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life," Raymond shows people how to work writing into their normal lives.
She shows you how to find time and space to write, while offering a wealth of writing prompts to get you started when a blank screen or piece of paper is staring you in the face.
You don't need a fantasy home office with a writing desk, shelves of books and windows offering beautiful views. It's fine to write in a corner of your kitchen or a library cubby. But do ask people in your life to respect your writing time, Raymond advises.
In an era of ubiquitous wireless Internet connections and social media sites, Raymond warns against wasting too much time online — even if it means scouting out a café without Internet service for a writing session.
"Everyday Writing" offers consolation and advice for dealing with rejection letters, and tips for judging whether to carry on with a writing project that doesn't seem to be working out.
Raymond writes, "Being immersed in a writing project is not unlike a relationship: It's exciting at first (I love my novel), then the reality sets in (This is going to be a lot of work), and then perhaps it doesn't end up as you hoped (Maybe this isn't such a good fit after all)."
Getting advice from writer friends, spending some time apart from your project and weighing your emotional reaction to the idea of abandoning the project are all ways to help gauge whether you should move on, she notes.
For anyone who's ever wanted to go off on a writing retreat, Raymond shows how you can create your own virtual retreat — either alone or with friends. It can be as simple as telling your friends you plan to devote the weekend to writing, and then doing it.
One of the most useful things about Raymond's book is the list of more than 150 writing prompts she offers. As a journalist who cranks out a half-dozen articles every week, most of the time I don't feel like doing any extra writing. But Raymond's prompts are so intriguing, I might give some a try.
Here's a sampling:
- Think back to your youth and what you wanted to be when you grew up. How closely does your current life match those ideas?
- Imagine that you grew up in your partner's family and vice versa. How might you and your partner have turned out differently or the same? Would you have still ended up together?
- Write a glowing review of a work in progress. Compare how the piece is now with what the review had to say. Can you now identify ways to improve the piece?
- Imagine your last night out with friends and write a scene as if it's part of a play or movie.
Raymond posts a new writing prompt each week on her blog at www.midgeraymond.com/blog.
"Everyday Writing" is available in Ashland at Bloomsbury Books and Treehouse Children's Books.
It is also available through online sellers and for e-readers. For more information, visit www.ashlandcreekpress.com/books/everydaywriting.html.
Raymond will lead a free writing workshop from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, at the Ashland Public Library. For more information, call the library at 541-774-6996.
Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.