Friday Speak Out!: My Writing Life

Friday, September 22, 2017
by Nancy Hayes Kilgore

How do you structure your writing life? Do you write every day? Do you get up at 6 and write all morning? Do you have a special room, quiet and serene? People ask me these questions, assuming that because I am “a writer” and even have the nerve to teach a writing class, I must have it down – the right way to do it.

But my answer usually comes out in hems and haws and hedges. Because I don’t write every day. I don’t write at the same time or in the same place. My writing life is a series of fits and starts – days of feeling unworthy and completely inept, days of worrying about deadlines and procrastinating until the last minute, and then, a ha! days of actual writing.

I do a lot of wandering around my garden, sitting in my living room and gazing out the window, driving through the Vermont countryside, staring at a river, looking at the sky.

Sky-gazing. That seems to be one of my best writing methods. Not exactly meditation, but a kind of meditation where I am free, my mind is open like the sky, a place where clouds can drift or birds can fly and the atmosphere can nurture the non-thoughts that coalesce into words.

Needless to say, I am not a person who churns out a book a year. And I used to feel guilty about that. But my identity is not only as “a writer.” I have lived in different places, had different professions, have a variety of relationships and ways of meandering through the world. Writing is a way to bring my unique experience into view, and, whether I write every day or once a week, my writing life, undisciplined as it is, is one part of my own rhythm.

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Nancy Hayes Kilgore, a writer and psychotherapist, is the winner of the Vermont Writers Prize 2016. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her first novel, SEA LEVEL, was a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Formerly a parish pastor, Nancy leads workshops on writing and spirituality for clergy, therapists, and writers throughout the U.S. She lives in Vermont with her husband, a painter. Her new novel, Wild Mountain, comes out October 1st from Green Writers Press. Find her online at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nancy--I agree. And I am like you. I don't write every day. Mostly, I write in one of a couple of different spots, but I also enjoy writing in coffee shops and on writing marathons. Just like each of our styles is unique, what makes up each of our writing grooves is also different.

Good luck with Wild Mountain. (And you're so lucky to live in Vermont. I spent a few weeks there, one winter. It must be a wonderful place to meditate--as well as write.)

Nancy Kilgore said...

Thank you, Sioux! Nice to hear from a sister non-routiner. And reading this issue of WOW, it’s also nice to hear that Margaret Atwood doesn’t write from a plot - something I’ve never been able to do either. And yes, I love living in Vermont.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Hi Nancy, I'm also a non-scheduled writer. I am writing at least three times a week now for sure, if not more, but it varies: sometimes right when I wake up in bed with my laptop, other times poolside, or in my office. I'm looking into a co-working writer's space that I visited.

Your novel sounds great! I'm always interested to read books that include an abusive spouse or's something I'm writing about, so I take notes on how various writers explore that topic.

Nancy Kilgore said...

Hi Angela,

Thanks for your comments. I’d love to hear from you if you do read Wild Mountain, and also how you are writing the abuse story?

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