Although I began writing in second grade, the urge didn’t really take hold until junior high. Maybe that was because the classes were so boring, I had to do something to keep my mind occupied. I wrote on any scrap of paper I found in my textbooks or notebooks. And I wrote in any class where the boredom didn’t just numb my mind but threatened to destroy it all together.
As I grew older, I got pickier, only writing when I knew I could focus for an extended period of time. Then I got married and had kids. For over seven years, I didn’t write anything except a weekly journal I keep for my kids so they can relive their childhoods when they’re grown up. At the time, I didn’t realize I needed to write like I needed to sleep.
Once my kids were in school, I began writing more.It dawned on me that if I waited for perfect conditions, I would barely write at all. So l learned to adapt my writing to the setting I’m in.
Waiting in the car — If I am waiting five to ten minutes to pick up kids at school, I write blog posts, journal entries, or proofread stories.
Sports practice and waiting rooms — Since the time period is longer, I can do more detailed editing or writing fiction. Once a game starts, I do lay pen aside to watch my kid.
Meetings — Meetings are tough because I have to pay attention but still not allow boredom to crush my mind. I work on character names and family trees.
Settings Where You Can’t Write
Sometimes, I can’t whip out my notebook and write without appearing rude. These are settings like a junior high concert, where my kid plays for twenty minutes but I have to stay for the whole hour and a half. When my mind begins to wander, I can do two things.
- Work on storylines in my head.
- People watch.
I went to a memorial service where one of the speakers highjacked it, talking on and on, well past the amount of time the family had asked him to fill. It was fascinating to watch the crowd grow restless, observing what people did to pass the time and not be rude. The rabbi, who was overseeing the service, eventually got up and stepped closer and closer to the speaker, in an effort to signal to the man that he should wrap it up. The speaker didn’t notice but stopped in his own sweet time.
I would love to work a version of that into a story.
I’d also love to hear from you about how you have learned to write anywhere.