This week, Becca’s prompt comes, again, at a perfect time for me as I sit here thinking about how to keep up my newly discovered writing practice as I start teaching today. She wants to know:
How about you? Do you have a writing practice? Whatâ€™s it like? How has it helped you become a better writer? If youâ€™re thinking about starting a writing practice, how do you envision it? What would work for you?
Writing Practice Idea: Write about a time in your life when you were learning a new activity – a musical instrument, a sport, a language – and how you went about practicing it.
My writing practice is fairly formulaic, but it works for me. Each morning I get up at 6am, feed the furry ones, and make coffee. Then I sit down to meditate/listen to God for as long as it takes to quiet my mind (this morning, I ended up with my neck in some strange twisted position that seemed to focus me as I breathed into this crazy knot that’s resting against the base of my spine). Then I read a bit from a writing text – right now it’s Fruitflesh by Gayle Brandeis – and using that text, I pick a prompt and write from it in my notebook, pen to paper. Right now, the notebook of choice (does anyone else get journals out their ears once people know you’re a writer?) is a gold-leafed one with a giant sun on it. I usually fill a page or two with thoughts on something. Then, I move to the computer where I write something new or revise something I’ve already written, although I only do the revision if I know it’s something that really needs to be wholly reworked. Otherwise, I save those smaller more analytical divisions to latter on a day when I have more writing time.
Most days, that whole process takes only a half hour, but on days when things get going, I stay for an hour or two. Those are the great days. But regardless of great or mediocre (like today), I do it every weekday and some weekend mornings . . . starting my day with what makes me most alive. I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something, which may not happen for the rest of my day (those of you who teach or work in education will understand I’m sure – as will all of you who spend a lot of your days in meetings talking about what needs to be done rather than doing it.) Plus, to be honest, if I don’t do this practice, I’m kind of pissy and horrible to be around. This is the one thing that I always do for me, and it’s very important to me – and to my students who would much rather I be in a good space.
Becca couches her questions in the discussion of music practice that so many of us took on as kids. As the daughter of a piano teacher, you’d think I would have had a fairly regimented practice schedule, but I didn’t. Mom made me sit at the piano once a day, I think, but really I didn’t have to be there for any particular length of time. I just did it when I wanted . . . and it stuck. Whenever I get near a piano, I just want to play – in fact, today, I think I”ll sneak over to the theater for a bit and play. It clears my mind, much like writing practice does now.
So how about you? What are your answers to Becca’s prompt? Post them on your blog or put them in comments here, and if you do post, visit Becca’s site and post your link. Happy Writing!