Rediscovering the Writing Life


After finishing up the coursework for my second Masters degree a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been trying to get back into a regular writing routine.

Yesterday, I put the final touches on the latest draft of the novel I’ve been writing the past four years. I’m a couple of weeks ahead on the serialized detective novel I’m doing. I’ve done everything I can do at the moment to prep the next issue of Steel Toe Review. Today, I had a full day to brainstorm and work on new ideas, so I did what I like to do most. I grabbed a notebook and a pen and went for a 15-mile hike around Birmingham. Walk an hour. Write an hour. From 8:15 until about 4:15.

I started at my house in Crestwood and walked down Third Avenue into Avondale. I cut through Avondale Park and wound my way down into Lakeview, where I stopped at Bogue’s for breakfast. I spent about an hour there working on a new story that I was working out in my head during the first hour of the walk.

Then I crossed up to Highland Avenue and followed it down to Five Points. I thought about stopping there, but I didn’t want anymore coffee, so I went another 10 minutes down the road to my office at UAB. I spent another hour there working out the next part of the story. By then, it was lunch time, so I walked up 14th Street to the taco truck on 1st Avenue North. I crossed back to Southside to eat my tacos in Railroad Part and do a little more writing on a shady park bench.

I went back to the north side and headed into the downtown center, paying a visit to Jim Reed Books, where I picked up a couple of things. I walked over the bridge at 24th Street and walked through Pepper Place, stopping for a beer at Hop City and doing a little more writing. By then, I had finished a draft of the story, so I headed home to type it up.

When was a freelancer in New York, I tried to spend at least one day a week doing this, walking, meditating, working out new ideas, taking notes. If I have a writing method, this is it. Unfortunately, life often gets in the way. During the last four years, I got two Masters degrees, and there were few days open-ended enough to allow me this process. By August, I’m hoping to be working full time somewhere, so I have the rest of July to try and make some creative things happen. After that, it might be months before I can spend a day like this again.


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