Everything is a process, I tell my students: making grocery lists, wrapping Christmas presents, preparing to workout. I emphasize this to struggling writers especially because they are often in desperate need of ways to approach writing. They need to learn how to enter what I think of as the writer’s thinking-bubble, that space where one can take a small step toward putting thoughts onto the screen.
In addition, teaching is a profound example of how process begins anew with each new workday. Each lesson is a meditation on the flow of ideas and activities. It’s really much more of an art than a science, though. Going with one’s instincts is required of teachers. I make split-second changes to my lessons often, reorganizing the transition from one thing to the next as it seems appropriate in the moment. At least, this is how it works best for me, to go with the flow of the stream.
Right now, our little nook, which is in the very front of the house, is in disarray as the whole family pitches in to put my makeshift office together (see Day 4). My yoga ball chair, which I am absolutely super excited about, is sitting in pieces upon the new charcoal grey shag. The ball has not been inflated. Books have been taken out of bookcases, so bookcases could move to a new location. Small piles of textbooks and anthologies remain homeless. Trinkets that sat within and on top of the bookcases are now on the piano. It looks like a room turned somewhat inside out.
My sense of improv holds true in my home improvement projects, too, as I have now begun decluttering the living room, moving old Sun magazines off of side tables and piles of artfully displayed rocks off the mantle, all to transitional locations. It’s a bit like taking the stuffing out of a bear so you can restitch the eyes and replace the missing button nose. We are in stuffing everywhere mode.
It’s about at this point when the process can break down, when fuel is required to keep going, to move far enough along so that a bookmark can neatly be placed in the status of things, so we can be ready to continue later from where we left off.
I am heading upstairs to do some yoga now after grabbing a handful of nuts. I’ll tackle the chair after that.
This is what it means to write, I will tell my students. This is exactly how we write an essay.