The Coming of March-the need to focus

slice-of-life_individual.jpgI have written for the March Slice of Life Challenge for several years now. I started writing when I was in the classroom teaching every day. I was writing when I was teaching and my Mother was declining in health so was driving 7 hours every so often to check on her and provide help where I could. I was writing when I was balancing teaching in a high stress situation, my own health was not good and there were lots of family needs.  Some how I kept writing.

It’s funny the busier I was the harder I worked to be sure I wrote something everyday for the month of March. Now my life if much easier. I am retired and work a little less than part time. My Mother, bless her, has left us with good memories. My own health is better or at least I am much calmer and can maintain healthy eating, yoga and sleeping. I have time!

But as this month begins I am more worried about getting my writing done. I am more worried about completing a post daily. I am worried about having a topic to discuss daily. I am wondering what I was thinking when I told myself that yes I would do this again.

It is odd that as time opens up for me I seem to get less done. I also seem to have less to say. Some of that is good – it means I am slowing down. I am taking time to move more slowly. Some of this is not good – it means I am not as focused in my tasks or thinking. It means I spend more time surfing the web, playing odd little games on my phone and day dreaming I guess.

When working non stop my writing came out of reaction from the days events. It was quick and raw describing the day or it was the releasing of emotions (good and bad) that related to my day. There were topics lined up at the end of each day that I could write a few words about.

My writing now comes from a more personal place, a place of quiet. It takes more thought. It takes more time.So now I need to gear up and be focused each day. I decided I needed to think about when this writing can get down each day. I started a list of topics I could write about if stuck. I pulled out old journals to use some of that writing as story starters for myself. I plan to review old blog posts to see what might be worth reviewing and redoing. I have found my copy of Writing Down the Bones,  Bird by Bird and some poetry books by  Mary Oliver to help me. I know that reading what other writers have written might help me each day as I sit down to write in this more contemplative way.

Yes, I am worried (a little) because writing can be hard work. I also know this push to write for a whole month – every day is a good one. It will take me deeper into my thinking. It will help me explore my thoughts and feeling. It will help me focus again.

A few books I refer to that push my writing : (remember I am old so these are old as well)

Adult –

  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
  • Breathing In Breathing Out by Ralph Flectcher
  • Upstream by Mary Oliver (new)
  • Dream Word by Mary Oliver

Kids –

  • How to Write your Life Story by Ralph Fletcher
  • What’s your Story? A Young Person’s Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Writing Down the Days: 356 Creative Journaling Ideas for Young People by Lorraine M. Dahlstrom
  • Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by Georgia Heard
  • A Crow Doesn’t Need a Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature by Lorraine Ferra

Yes, I am ready!  (I hope!?)

  • What are you doing to get ready for a month of writing?
  • What writers do you turn to kick start your writing?
  • What mentor texts do you use  for yourself?











About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in journals, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Coming of March-the need to focus

  1. Love your honesty and your reflections in this Joanne. I also love many of the books you have listed. On Writing by Stephen King is great. I completely agree that the busier life is, the more fodder there is for writing!

  2. I love your ideas for finding topics to write about. Reading your post made me stop and think, in the midst of a busy day, about writing, and the importance of writing in my life. I’m also making a list of topics. I love Writing Down the Bones and will have to get that out again! I will check out some of your favorites as well. Happy writing!

  3. Thank you for sharing so many great resources.
    I hope you will read my friend, writing under “word journeys” this month.
    She is recently retired and you have shared reflections and challenges.
    Enjoy your slower thoughtfulness!

  4. Carol1006 says:

    I’m a new slicer and just two years from retirement. I’m a little worried about just drifting through retirement and not getting anything “done.” I appreciate your honesty and your inspiration. I will definitely be looking for some of these books.

    • Joanne Toft says:

      I am on year 4 of retirement and you find your way but it takes some time. At least it has for me. This writing community has been helpful in keeping me focused and writing. Glad you have joined us.

  5. arjeha says:

    I am amazed at how many of us are having the same feelings about committing to this challenge, yet we are all here and we will finish. That says a lot about this community.

  6. Tara Smith says:

    You’ve done a lot of smart writer’s thinking Joanne…and you’ve collected rich mentors to help you along the way. Bravo!

  7. lindabaie says:

    I love hearing your reflection, Joanne, and always enjoy what you share, whether in response to your day, or another kind of post. I have all those books, too, and yes, they’re older, but still really good. Glad you’re coming back for this year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s