Layne Gordon
"A Writing Session"



[video of Layne setting notebook and laptop on table, pulling pencil bag out of purse]

I begin a writing session by setting the scene both physically and digitally.

[music begins]

My first step is to collect the material items I need to surround myself with in order to feel settled enough to think.

In this case, I need my laptop, a notepad, several differently colored pens, my journal, and my water bottle.

Then I'll set up my digital space--choosing some good writing music and opening the documents I need to get started.

[video of screen as Layne opens up applications]

In this case, I begin with the description of the assignment I'm working on, which is a research statement. At this point, I also turn to my notepad in order to process my ideas about the assignment, in a medium that I see as more concrete and tactile.

[video of Layne writing on paper with purple pen on left side; image of assignment sheet on screen on right side]

This toggling between print and screen is indicative of my writing process generally. I started relying on this strategy at the beginning of my graduate career. And since then, I've found that this kind of shuttling between material and immaterial has become essential for organizing complex thoughts.

Certain thoughts require paper. Others require screen. And sometimes I need to translate a thought on paper to the screen in order to really flesh it out.

[screencast of Layne working on computer in email application, word-processing application, and Google Drive]

I also start to collect ideas from other things I've written or notes I've stored on my computer. In this case, I first go to some notes I took at a conference I've just attended, along with a response I wrote for class a week before.

Collecting these idea resources helps me to continue to create my writing environment.

[video of Layne writing on paper with purple pen]

At this point, I decide I need some kind of visual to process how I was thinking about my research interests. Because of moments like this, I see my writing process itself as highly multimodal and embodied.

To create one document, I rely on digital notes, handwritten notes, color and visuals, as well as the inanimate objects I surround myself with during my writing session.

[screencast of Layne working between YouTube and word-processing application]

Eventually, I get to a point where I feel like I have an idea I can work with. The little seed that will grow into the finished paper.

But just because this particular writing session is done doesn't mean that my writing process is complete. I take the main idea I've gotten to and let it hang out in my mind while I do other tasks around the house, like letting the dogs out, spraying down the stove, making a brief note about the assignment I was working on before I forget about it, then bringing the dogs back in, vacuuming, dishes, etc.

[video of Layne shutting computer and letting dogs outside, then spraying stove with cleanser, then writing a note, then bringing dogs back into the house]

These seemingly mundane tasks look like they have nothing to do with writing, but I'm still processing my ideas--playing with the thought I reached earlier.

[video of Layne vacuuming]

I see these kinetic, embodied moments as doing some important non-writing work for my writing process. And eventually, I'm ready to return to my draft, set a new writing environment for myself, and continue my recursive, multimodal, embodied experience of writing.

[video of Layne picking up laptop, setting it on table, and turning on the television]