14 March 2011

Writing Everyday: New Habits Die Easily

by Carrie Bailey

The weekend passed in a blur of drama spent wasting my time with internationals at a backpacker's hotel in Wellington, New Zealand. What a great atmosphere for literary research. I've got accents from every country permanently burnt onto my memory and can now distinguish not simply between countries, but regions within countries. The heightened awareness of sports team rivalries, stereotype related jokes, and myriad of ways with which we all set aside nationality when trying to survive in a foreign land, as well as what we cling to, has been research at it's best. It's an environment filled with distractions...successful ones.

Most shamefully, I forgot I had been challenged to write every day for 28 days here on Peevish Penman last week by a writer from India I met in the same environment. I had taken the weekends off from my ambition and as Monday rolled around, I simply forgot. Yet dawn on Tuesday... I knew there was something missing from the previous day.

The very things that I intend to write about though prove to be the best distractions from writing. During a peculiar conversation with an Irish man who seems to drink more than his weight in lager every night, I was informed that the bar scene was "reality." Probably of interest is the fact that I had only earlier felt compelled to explain to a small English man with an amazing inability to make headway with all the German girls despite the inordinate amount of effort exerted, that in fact socializing in a bar filled with internationals was a break from "reality" and one that can't last forever. From the balcony, I pointed to the building where I attend classes for my Master's program in Information. A single office was lit. Immediately adjacent was where I intended to spend my nights for the remainder of the year, nose to book, fingers to keyboard. Wait, what is "reality?" I couldn't possibly be claiming that...

These quickly forgotten debates and inane discussions through slurred babble have illuminated one aspect of writing that seems normally to teeter on the edge of my awareness; nothing comes as quickly onto the page as what I know. My favorite writers wrote what they knew. Even when all the elements of a story are completely divorced from physics, common sense, and any semblance of this dimension, the parts that bind them into great writing are truths and experience from life and an honest reflection of it.

Even though I lost one day in my 28 day quest, I have more to write about than time to do so. And while I may be slow in developing this habit, the ambition to write everyday has already taught me a valuable lesson about beating writer's block. It doesn't matter if I'm in the office or the backpacker's hotel-wherever I am is my reality and my best source of inspiration. I'll use that knowledge again tomorrow and in three weeks give or take a few days... I'll meet that goal.

(Before I finish this post, I should mention that there a some savvy people around the world who are on to my penchant for conducting "research."  Next time someone asks me about my profession, I intend to say insurance salesperson before the internationals demand character's based directly on their own perfect versions of themselves...again).

Carrie Bailey is an editor for Peevish Penman on the 7th day of a 28 day challenge to write daily. She is studying for her Master's in Information in Wellington, New Zealand.


  1. You have no idea just how PERFECTLY I can conjure up images of those conversations you're having.

    Ah... Wellington at night.

    The irishmen are my favorite :)

  2. Well that's good to hear :).

    Interestingly, I think I enjoy one English guy's accent most even over a guy who comes from the neighboring city.

  3. Establishing a 'daily writing' goal is a very worth thing to do. Best of luck! Sounds like you have lots of fodder for your imagination

  4. I'm working on that aspect to the best of my ability... After a year on the couch with a laptop... it's nice to do a little "research."

  5. I love the way you write. I can't wait till I get the secret handbook. Wait should I be talking about it?