55. guest newsletter: devin kate pope
thinking about helpful practices for writing
Hi there! 👋 I’m Ida, and this is tiny driver, a newsletter about research, pedagogy, culture and their intersections. Thank you for being here. Reach out anytime by just hitting reply, I love hearing from you.
Hello, and happy Monday! Today’s guest newsletter is brought to you by the fantastic Devin Kate Pope. I met Devin at an event hosted by Substack, and we’ve been following each other ever since! I’m so happy to have her be the first guest writer for Au-Guest Month—she has a lot of amazing advice in this letter. I hope you enjoy!
Hello! I'm Devin, and I'm a writer living in Phoenix, AZ. I run an indie copywriting studio called Kindred Word, and I'm working on various fiction projects. My newsletter is The Ponder, where I connect the dots in my head and try to make sense of them. It's a way for me to process what I'm reading, try to commit it to memory, and have interesting conversations in the comments with you (hopefully!) I recently relaunched The Ponder after a hiatus, very much inspired by and buoyed up by Ida's infectious joy and commitment to learning in public through tiny driver. I'm so honored to be in this space with you all.
What I write.
My writing life is composed of balancing my personal fiction projects and newsletter, with my work as a copywriter/editor for small businesses. I recently wrapped up an editing project for a photography business and am about to dive into revisions on a long fiction project. I'm also working on an article for an art foundry and fabricator and writing down ideas for short stories and essays. One of my favorite parts about writing, for work and play, is that it is an avenue of exploration and variety. I learn so much when I peer into my clients' businesses or research something new to me.
Writing isn't stagnant or linear -- and that's a joy and a challenge. Some projects feel easy when I thought they'd be challenging. Others are surprisingly difficult. Writing slows down and feels gross when I'm writing about something heavy or if I’m anxious about the final outcome. These writing projects are a whole different beast and require care. Here's what I've found helpful:
Take breaks: Feed, water, and move yourself regularly!
Find your trusted people: Talking about the project, or just sharing the fact that you're drained, can be helpful -- IF the person is trustworthy. Depending on the topic, you may need to reach out to different people.
Do a mind/body scan: How are you feeling right now? Do you need to be gentle with yourself, or is today the day to push the project harder? Practice intuitive writing.
Establish the one thing you want people to remember from the finished piece (write it at the top of the doc!)
Write to one real person (someone you know, your past self, etc)
Anything that strays too far, dump it in a new "extra" document
If stuck: Text a friend, post to Insta/Twitter to ask people for input on the topic
Having a word limit can help to keep it in line (if you're feeling it get too big)
Write an outline in bullet points
Word dump without caring too much about how it flows/grammar/etc (I like to leave notes for myself in doc)
Take a break, work on something else, let some time pass
Draft 2: Fix grammar, add or delete things
Read it out loud to hear what needs to flow better. Repeat until you don't trip over anything.
Send to a friend for a quick read
Ship that shit because it will never be 100% perfect/you will always find things to change! <3
What I consume.
In the Bookshop:
Currently reading: Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi, The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, and How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
On Deck: An older book (O Pioneers! by Willa Cather) and a slew of new fiction that I'm excited about (Virtue by Hermione Hoby, They'll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman, Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder, and Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman)
Friends! It is time for the next book club pick! Cast your vote below by Saturday, August 7 and I’ll announce the pick in next week’s newsletter!
Which book do you want to read for August book club?
Here’s the event info:
Date & Time: Tuesday, August 31 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Suggested donation (for those able to donate): $3-20 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)
I've started swimming laps recently, and the underwater surroundings are fascinating to me. I'm at the same time weightless and fully exerting myself. Afterward, I'm not sore in a particular muscle set but tired all over -- I feel like I'm wrung out. It’s a different feeling than being sore after a run and it makes me think about how writing uses different muscles. Some writing projects are a quick jog, some are a long swim, and you're just trying to stay afloat.
Item(s) of note.
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy is one of my favorite newsletters, and her recent essay about making ethical choices as a consumer is especially good
I've gotten fairly sick of reading the takedown articles about girl bosses over the last year, but Leigh Stein's article is a nuanced and, I think, necessary take
An excellent breakdown of some questions that I struggled with early on as a freelancer: Business basics for creatives: Budgeting, goal setting, and more
Cabana Chats is a fun new podcast about writing + community
Over on Instagram, Meghan Carlton Phillips has been posting awesome collages in her stories
A pup-date. (cat-date?)
I caught my middle-aged cat Poppy looking regal on my couch the other day. She begrudgingly allowed me to take the photo.
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!