Sally Meadows is a multi-award-nominated author and singer/songwriter. Her picture book featuring a child on the autism spectrum, The Two Trees, was shortlisted for two awards. To date, over 3000 Saskatchewan students have seen her The Two Trees presentation and participated in her hands-on science activities. Sally’s next book, The Underdog Duck, releases in the fall of 2018. Sally is an avid photographer and happily spends her time creating from her Saskatoon home.
As an empty nester, I have the run of the house! I have a formal corner computer desk in our family room that I occasionally sit at, but most of my work is done at our kitchen table. This lets me look out our big windows and feel inspired by the trees, the birds, and the occasional bunny. I generally stay off the computer at night so in the early evening I also do research or write out stories longhand while sitting on my comfy couch in my living room. Music composition, not surprisingly, happens at my piano.
Describe a typical workday.
I start my day with warm lemon water. I then sit quietly meditating for about 20 minutes. While my breakfast is cooking I quickly review my emails. After breakfast I dive immediately into the work of the day. I am getting better at putting a priority on the most important activity of the day right off the get-go, and not getting sucked into the social media tornado. If I am not out leading workshops, doing school presentations, travelling, doing concerts, having meetings, doing trade shows, or a myriad of other things outside the home, I spend most of my day on the computer writing, blogging, editing, doing training, and organizing photos for my upcoming publications. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of song writing—it was one of my priorities for the first quarter of 2018. I also take time twice during the day to exercise—usually walking or the elliptical—for at least 20 minutes per session. Near the end of the day I address emails and pop onto social media for a bit.
List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
I am a self-proclaimed science geek—I used to do science shows for kids, and most of my kids’ books have some element of science in them—so I like keeping a few science gadgets at the ready to fiddle with if I feel so inclined. I am also an avid crafter and often have a project sitting in the middle of the kitchen table ready to go for evenings and weekends. (Luckily I am disciplined enough not to work on crafting projects during the day!) Finally, my camera is always within reach if I see an interesting bird outside.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits?
Not really; at least, nothing more to add to what I have already mentioned above. I do try to keep a record of what I do every day in a day timer. Scheduled events are put in ahead of time. Most times I record what I do as I do it. There is the odd time that I go back and record things after the fact. So I guess my ritual is to record everything I do.
What do you listen to while you work?
I like silence. As a musician, if I had music on in the background, my brain would go to the music and not on the work I am doing.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
I usually have a glass of water close by. I rarely snack when I am working but I do get up mid-morning and mid-afternoon to walk around and have a piece of fruit and/or a few nuts.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I develop a lot of my story ideas in my head over a period of time, so that by the time I actually put my fingers to the keyboard, the story flows rather quickly. Having said that, I do a LOT of fine-tuning after the initial draft. Music is an entirely different beast. I most often start writing a song after getting a snippet of melody in my head. I then go to the piano and build the song from there. What the song is going to be about can come quickly or take a long time. And like my writing, I do tons of revisions, especially for the lyrics.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
Nope, not going to happen! I need my space. I even find it hard to work when my husband is at home, even though he spends most of his time at the basement level! On the other hand, I would LOVE to share my space when it comes to writing music. The only caveat—he or she has to be as dedicated to the process as I am.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
I have discovered that I truly am happiest when I am creating. As much as I don’t mind doing marketing and other administrative work, after a while it saps my soul. I am so happy that I have found my groove in 2018 by putting a priority on the most important thing I do—writing and song writing—as recommended by a number of successful authors. As a writer and musician, my ultimate success will depend on producing quality work and lots of it. Everything else is secondary.
Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.