Prepping for #1000wordsofsummer 2022
Greetings from London, where I am tuckered out, but happy to be alive, feeling shifted a bit, understanding some new things about myself. The most I can ask for from travel, truly.
A few bits of business first:
This week’s donation is going to New Orleans Abortion Fund. You can find an abortion fund near you here.
If you would like to buy my new memoir, I Came All This Way to Meet You, which talks about the life and craft of being a writer, there are some signed copies available here, or you can order a personalized copy here.
If you will be in Belfast on Monday May 9, I will be appearing at The Crescent Arts Centre with Rosie Schaap, Cate Kennedy, and Paul McVeigh.
It is spring here, too
At last night’s reading in London, I met a few of you, which, once again, warmed my heart. When we talked about the upcoming #1000wordsofsummer (starts in one month! June 4.), it came up in conversation that it might be helpful for me to send out a list of suggestions for how to prep for it. So away we go.
Strategize what you want to write. If you’ve got a work-in-progress, do you know which chapters you want to work on? If you’re planning on journaling, can you make a list of topics you want to examine about yourself that you’ve never spent time with before? I made a list the other day of the seven chapters I could write and as I get closer to the date, I’m going to choose three. Even just knowing the possibilities makes me feel safe and ready.
Commit to what you want to accomplish. Can you say to yourself: I am going to finish this proposal by the time #1000wordsofsummer is over. Or: I am going to write a new poem every day for those two weeks. Or: I am going to commit to editing the first third of my book. Say it to yourself or a friend. There is a real energy to uttering those words out loud.
Carve out the time in your day. Do you know when you’re going to write? I write in the mornings, when my brain is freshest. Can you identify which part of your day works best for you? Perhaps look at your calendar in advance and make sure you can clear some time for the commitment. Claiming that time for yourself is empowering.
Find your spot. If you got some good writing done once in a particular cafe, maybe you need to become its best customer. Can you ask your roommate if you can have a quiet hour in the kitchen to yourself every day? Does the babysitter need to stay an hour longer? Maybe it’s just identifying a desk in the furthest reaches of your local library and making sure you get there early enough to nab it. Knowing where you’ll be every day to write can be a stabilizing force.
Have the supplies that you need. What objects will inspire you either intellectually or emotionally? Do you need to treat yourself to a cool pen? Do you want to ask a peer for recommendations for something that would be good to read for inspiration? Do you need a box of a specific tea to drink that you associate with some of your most productive moments? Once my friend sent me a crystal, which sounds pretty hippie-dippie, but just the idea that this specific object was meant to inspire me alone was enough to warm up my brain.
What I’m most excited about is this: I like to buy a new notebook, and by that I mean one with paper in it. I know this is considered old-fashioned, and so many people just write digitally rather than by hand these days. But I believe sitting down and collecting your thoughts each day in a handwritten fashion is helpful. (Studies have shown your brain operates differently when you handwrite versus when you type.) I find it very freeing; I tend to be more experimental when I handwrite. The thrill of having that notebook and just knowing that I can crack into it feels like such a reward to me already.
None of the above is required but is just meant to trigger something helpful thinking in advance. Showing up feeling ready to do the work is the real goal here. Entering the project with confidence and enthusiasm is important! What I wish for you most is that you feel like you can do it rather than that it is some insurmountable challenge.
I’ll leave the comments open to everyone in case anyone wants to share any other ideas for how they prep for it.
Sending you my most hopeful thoughts,
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere).
My big WIP is research-based narrative NF. The research is not far enough advanced for me to use it during this time. So I am going to concentrate (1000words/day) on bits and pieces of the memoir that has been nibbling (gnawing) at me, and make a deep dive into it every day -- unless a compelling poem comes along and demands to be first. The focus on the memoir will be the deep dive, because I spent too many years writing picturesque little memory pieces about my picturesque childhood to entertain my writing buddies. Memoir pieces retrieved by deep diving will be better than the memory pieces.
How do I sign on to the #1000wordsofsummer 2022? I am an educator and want to sign on. Thanks for letting me know....I plan to dig through my years of journals to find nuggets and then to write to them, prompt by prompt, bird by bird. The bigger plan is to tell my story.