Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thoughts on Writing: Connecting and Routine

Welcome back after our Summer MFAC Residency!

We've got a lot of news to share about The Storyteller's Inkpot, starting with new types of posts!

We'll still have our regular publication announcements, Meet the Grad features, and general blog posts, but we'll also have a featured topic each month that our community of Hamline bloggers can engage with. August's topic will be revision, one of the most critical (and challenging) skills for any writer to master.

To start things off, author Molly Burnham* has offered to share her top six thoughts on Writing and Mindfulness with The Storyteller's Inkpot. Her post was simply too good to giveaway all at once, so we'll be breaking it into three parts.

This time Molly talks to us about how connecting with others and establishing a solid routine can help you break free from a writing (or revising) rut.

1. Connecting
The first year out of grad school sucked. It was really hard. Really.

I was revising what I had worked on at Hamline, but it felt like I was spinning my wheels. This led me to apply for a weekend away with Stephen Roxburgh that focused on Editing for Writers. It was a very interesting retreat about looking at our work with distance so we can edit it as writers.

I felt this was important because in the two years I spent at Hamline I hadn't grappled with this issue-my writing was still very fresh. I was creating, but I needed to learn more about what to do after I had a book. How do I work with a whole draft?

I found that for me it was important to connect with kids. Not only because I write for them, but because I have fun with them. I needed some fun that first year out of grad school!

When in doubt, focus on one element of craft that you need help with and find people to help you. Really good people-like Hamline people if you happen to live close to them.
2. Routine
The other thing I did was to establish a routine for my writing. I woke up at 5:00 am so I could write before my kids woke up. I was working and needed to have that time. This was not easy, but I really liked it (and got the idea from a Hamline faculty member who recommended the book From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler).

As I said, getting up that early was not always easy, so I had this little phrase I'd say that went like this:

"I'm the kind of woman who gets up at 5:00 in the morning to write. That's the kind of woman I am." 
It would make me laugh but was also a positive affirmation. I find positive affirmations are so important. (A lot like mindfulness). 

Choose affirmations that have a bit of humor to them; it really helps.

That's it for today, but check back on August 13th for Molly's thoughts on Demons and Distractions!

*Molly B. Burnham graduated from Hamline in 2010. Her first book, Teddy Mars Almost a World Record Breaker came out March 2015. It will be followed by two more Teddy Mars books. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She tries to be mindful, but is remarkably unsuccessful most of the time. Luckily she learns a lot from her failures.

To learn more about Molly and her writing please visit her website.


  1. Molly, you articulate so many important aspects about sustaining a writing life. Thank you. I so appreciated sharing your thoughts with the alums during the summer residency.

  2. Molly, just wondering if you consider yourself a morning or night person and how long it took you to get your routine set to where it started to feel truly natural for you? I am going to paste your little phrase (with eventual modifications as I figure out my routine) near my bed so I can get it into my head. Developing a routine has been the most difficult aspect of being a writer. I am determined to not allow this first year after graduation become a slump. If anything I hope to figure out something that will make my writing habit better than while I was a student.

  3. Molly, I am so proud of you! Picked up your book (!!!!!!) at the recent Hamline Alumni Weekend and started reading it this weekend. TEDDY MARS is soooo good. Soooo funny.
    Thanks for these great tips. Actively trying to apply them. Can't wait for the next installment.