I really love books and articles that discuss the habits of creative people. Since writing and making are usually quite solitary endeavours, it’s always exciting to catch a glimpse of how a creative person uses their time and also how they shape the spaces/environments within which they work.
So, I thought I’d share a little taste of how I spend my days:
It begins with coffee, two hard boiled eggs, and whole wheat toast with butter. Sometimes there are blueberries in plain yogurt with a sprinkle of flax seed, when I’m feeling capricious.
Then it progresses to some internetting to catch up on all the latest news. Which sometimes results in me having to cut off all access to social media for awhile because it is too tempting to keep chit-chatting with friends.
I use books. Lots of books. Books which I’ve lugged over from Canada or purchased at used book stores or ordered online. Most used book stores in Canada have an Arctic Section, which is a fantastic place to source out-of-print texts, government reports and the like. My personal copy of Peter Usher’s ‘Bankslanders’ is worth its weight in gold.
“But why do you have four copies of David Anderson’s ‘Identity and Ecology in Arctic Siberia’, Zoe?”
I just really love a sentient landscape, alright? Haha. And have incredibly bad luck with ordering things online.
I like to keep myself surrounded by art and things from home. My wonderful friend Courtney Chetwynd and her partner Kyle gifted these caribou antlers, from a caribou hunted by Ronnie Gruben, to me after a show she had here in Dundee. They remind me of the tundra.
My friend Millie made this tapestry. I carry it with me every place I go. The sash is to remind me of the Red River homeland.
I usually work from here — at my makeshift standing desk. I bought the little laptop stand from Ikea for £7. It is actually a lap desk for when you are sitting on a couch or armchair. But it makes a great stand for a standing desk, too. I use an Apple keyboard and mouse to help make the set-up a bit more ergonomic.
I try to write for four hours a day, in between doing administrative work and keeping on top of other projects in my life. I am a visual person, so I keep notes and reminders and chapter guides taped on the wall near my desk. I am a big fan of James Hayton’s writing tips: ‘structure, clarity, focus’. Repeat it a million times until it becomes your writing mantra! I also love “The Now Habit” as a general guide for organizing time and overcoming procrastination.
Pens and notebooks are the tools of my trade, so I have plenty of them around to use while I’m sketching out ideas or working through a particularly difficult section in a chapter.
To stay strong and physically well, I go for lots of walks. And sometimes I dance around to Janelle Monae in my living room. I bought a Fitbit in May and it helps me push myself a bit farther, which is important when you are in the middle of dissertating (the word many of my friends use to describe the process of writing your thesis/dissertation). It can be a lonely, arduous process, so it’s important to get out and smell the flowers, listen to the birds and say hello to the bumblebees.
Sometimes I hang out with the neighbour’s cat — who has a predilection for wandering into our house if we leave a window open.
When I’m hungry, I make food that is pretty tasty. This is a feat because cooking is neither my passion or my forte.
And then when it’s all done I head to bed.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
(Here’s how I want you to imagine the way I look as I write):
(how I really look most of the time):