A Writer’s Workplace
December 22, 2015
Fitneff recently caught up with Dymphny Dronyk, a mediator, communications consultant and writer. Dymphny is also the proud new owner of an Elevate Desk TopTM DT2 Sit Stand Desk from Fitneff. We checked in with Dymphny to learn more about how she works, where she gets her inspiration and how she's enjoying her desk.
Question: What or who motivates and inspires you as a writer?
DD: I am blessed to know many, many great writers. It is humbling. Books and stories were my salvation growing up as a poor immigrant kid who didn’t really belong anywhere. Books helped me both escape and understand the world. I believe storytelling has the power to change the world, or at least to inspire and change the reader. I hope one day I can write one sentence that resonates for someone the way the sentences of my literary heroes have saved me.
Question: How is your writing workplace set up?
DD: One extremely important element of creative wellness for me is having a “room of my own”. Even ages ago when I lived in a one room cabin with my family, I had a tiny little corner with a teeny desk and my dictionary and thesaurus. I love my studio which I refuse to call my office because that has too many work connotations. Its walls are full of books and art. Everywhere I look there’s something bright that I love. I have an L-shaped workspace. My laptop and monitor on my sit/stand desk, and then an old wooden desk full of dings and ink spots where I can spread out. I’m a visual thinker so I need the space to have things I can touch and shuffle and scribble on in front of me.
Question: What is your typical approach to writing? Do you have a routine?
DD: Years ago, Saskatchewan mystery writer Gail Bowen taught me the phrase “writing in the cracks.” It means that as a busy mother/worker/daughter/volunteer, writing for creativity usually ends up last on the list of priorities. I have had to learn to value it, to not consider it selfish. For me, creativity is right up there with oxygen. It’s a need not a want. And while I may not have the kind of lifestyle where I have significant blocks of time in my schedule ear-marked for writing, I can always find smaller nuggets of time, the proverbial “cracks”. So I am fierce about leaping into those cracks of time, wedging myself in there, making them bigger, and cherishing any time I can spend on one of my creative projects.
I’ve also learned to schedule time in an achievable way. I commit to looking for opportunities on a weekly basis, putting them in my day timer, and then doing everything I can to honour that block of time.
Question: Writing can be a solitary and arduous process. How do you maintain your health and wellness as writer?
DD: Writing is indeed a solitary process. I believe in the power of community. As writers we need to connect with other creative people, to be able to share our stories and struggles in a supportive environment. I’ve put thousands of volunteer hours into helping create and nurture these kinds of communities, and while serving on boards and organizing workshops and conferences certainly does take away from precious creative time, it has also taught me so much, and inspired me. Connecting with other creative people recharges my batteries.
I’ve never been very good at sitting for too long. I’ve always been a “dynamic” writer apparently. I just learned that this is the word for my process! I write on my laptop, but also on paper. I write standing up, lying down, sitting under a tree, sitting cross-legged in my chair. I also pre-write a lot, which means writing in my head while my body is occupied by a physical task. Walking, for example. My daily walks with the dog, in all weather and every season are essential to my process. If I’m stuck, I’ll take a walk, weed a patch of garden, fold a basket of laundry, knead some bread dough, wash the floor. The motion of my body seems to unlock my imagination. I take my notebook with me. I’ve learned to keep pencils in my car and in my pocket during the winter so that the ink doesn’t freeze if an idea hits me in the middle of a walk or a drive. (Don’t worry: I pull over.)
I’ve also learned to trust my intuition. There’s a difference between determination and stubbornly spinning one’s wheels. Sometimes leaving it alone for a while, or changing gears is far more effective than staring at the screen or a blank page.
One of my worst habits also helps me be a better writer: I am addicted to reading. I always have several books on the go, and I often read way too late into the night. But every writing teacher I’ve ever had has always said to read at least as much as you write, so there are probably worse habits.
Question: Any recommendations for authors to help maintain a healthy and balanced life?
DD: There’s a cliché in the writing world: put your bum in the chair. My advice is similar, but with a twist. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but stay in motion. Write anywhere, and everywhere, in whatever position that works. Find the cracks and write. Write sitting, standing, lying down, walking on a treadmill. But keep your body limber – and just write.
Dymphny Dronyk is a mediator by vocation, and communications consultant by default. She is passionate about the magic of story, and has woven words for money and for love for more than 30 years. Her first volume of poetry, Contrary Infatuations, was short listed for two prestigious awards in 2008. She is the co-publisher and co-editor of House of Blue Skies, as well as the editor of the online Blue Skies Poetry forum.
In a volunteer capacity, she has founded and/or developed several very successful arts festivals and initiatives, and served on boards for a variety of arts organizations including Writers Guild of Alberta, League of Canadian Poets, RE:act Art and Community Together. She also created and facilitated a long-running international artist residency in northern Alberta.