Spent yesterday afternoon at one of my favorite cafes doing some freewriting. The first assignment for my new writing class was to do a daily freewrite taking down notes about different settings/places. So yesterday, I chose the cafe’s enclosed front porch to do some writing. Today I sat down & worked those pages of notes into a 120-word description of the place. Yes, a 120-word limit for the assignment. Plus, it had to be completely about the place, no character description or character involvement. At first I struggled to find an in, but then decided to just try writing without worrying about the assignment. That turned into a 1000-word short story sketch. It feels like something I can continue to work with, which is good. The final project for the class is a short story. Since I’ve been focusing on the novel-in-progress, I haven’t had a lot of time or mind-space to work on shorter pieces. So, I’m looking forward to this class forcing me to make the time.

After working on the story sketch, I did finally get around to working on that 120-word setting description. I currently have a decent 115-words. Assignment is due tomorrow evening, so I want to play with it again tonight & tomorrow morning before turning it in.

I like these types of exercises. It really gets me to zero in on mechanics & techniques that are crucial for the novel-in-progress.

I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I did something I haven’t done since before my mother died.

I went for a drive with no destination & then ended up at a cafe & sat & read for a couple hours.

I love to drive with no destination. It helps clear my mind. It lets me think. It’s usually the best way for me to work through my writing issues & story problems or ideas. I guess I really haven’t wanted to think in a while, so I haven’t done it. But it was a really nice day today & I really just wanted to be out, but still in my own world. I don’t know that I did too much thinking. This drive seemed to be more about just being in the moment & doing something from my old routine.

The same can be said of sitting and reading at a cafe. I’ve had a reallly hard time sitting still & focusing lately, so there has been no appeal in sitting alone at a cafe & reading, & focusing. But maybe the drive brought it on. Maybe this is me getting back in touch with my old routine & finding away to integrate the person I am now, & where my head is now, back into it. It’s not to say that I’m at all comfortable with letting my mind wander. But I guess I’m getting more comfortable with the quiet I used to love & being alone in it.

Progress I suppose.

Image: ‘SeraphimC via flickr