My writing day routine flexes a bit according to the seasons, but tends to start earlier in fall and winter. I often start winter mornings with some Fair Isle knitting and tea as I find the meditative stitching sets me up for writing after breakfast. The warmth of the Shetland wool feels good and my fingers are warmed up for longhand or the keyboard.
I'm aghast at the great stretches of time I have now for writing, compared to my ad hoc "write when you can" world when I was teaching full-time and had small children. Those were the days when I wrote on the backs of cigarette packages I found on the ground at the park while pushing my kids on the swings.
I also became a bit obsessed with reading about other writers writing. It was a substitute for the real thing. But even then my urge to write was strong. And for poetry, I just have to get things down quickly, and will make notes wherever I am.
Before I gave my writing its due, I fascinated by the concept of writing/garden sheds like Virginia Woolf's at Monk's House, or more recently, Deborah Levy's borrowed shed across the park in London. This urge to run out a door had more to do with domestic and child-rearing challenges, I think. And I realized I didn't need a shed; ideas were bubbling and I needed to make the time.
I've made a habit to journal for most of my life, and I have notebooks handy for jotting. These can be excavated later for ideas and poems that can be re-worked or edited. I live in a house bordering a park, and this can prove an extreme distraction as there are many adorable dogs playing, children walking to school, and linden trees full of squirrels etc. I have one desk near a window, and another facing a wall.
Mornings are my preferred time for writing. I routinely read a poem or a random line from a work of fiction to get started. Sometimes I dig into what I've written the previous day. I find the morning is a precious time for my brain, and an image or a memory can launch my writing. It's kind of like a boat ramp, and I can move swiftly into the water. Occasionally I'm on a lake not knowing where I'm going and frequently it's misty, but that's part of it.
A daily walk helps me to focus and I really need the natural light. Exercise also helps me to prioritize, avoid procrastination and complete things. On writing days I make coffee around 10:30 a.m. and find that routine comforting. My main challenge right now is having too many projects on the go at once. One afternoon a week I write with a group of other writers and enjoy the feeling of writing together.
My first book of poetry, Stripmall Subversive, evolved from moments of time captured and relished before or after work while teaching. While I enjoy the process of writing, I require a certain structure and discipline so I can both create and do the business of writing. I try to devote one morning a week to submitting work, or looking for writing opportunities.
I usually break for lunch around 12:30 and sometimes I wistfully think of Maeve Binchy who headed for lunch at the local pub with her husband! But I make lunch, and read or go for a walk. If I'm writing something that is nudging me, I may come back to it in the evening but not often.
One of the great pleasures of my life right now is more time to read. I'm often giddy with the gifts of my personal library and the time to peruse and engage with a variety of writing. Like many writers, a good part of my writing day is devoted to reading.
Lois Lorimer is a poet, actor and teacher. Her first collection, Stripmall Subversive (Variety Crossing Press: 2012) was edited by Molly Peacock. Her chapbook, Between the Houses was published in Edinburgh in 2010. Her poems have appeared in journals: Arc, Literary Review of Canada, Hart House Review and online in Juniper. Lois's poems have been published in many anthologies and recently in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press: 2018) and Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees (League of Canadian Poets: 2018). She lives in Toronto.