Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing: Scheduled or wait for the muse?

It is easy to avoid writing because of {insert choice problem}:
          writer’s block
          no time
          summer-fever

In the memoir writing workshop I’m leading at Politics and Prose (which will run again in Sept. and October), we discussed when we sit down to write. Not when we think about it or talk about it, but when we really sit down and write.

While it isn't always practical or possible to make a daily, firm writing schedule, it is necessary to block off regular time to write. Writing is a practice and requires attention. You wouldn't expect to be able to run or play an instrument well if you didn't practice regularly, would you? Writing requires the same practice. 

Waiting to write until the muse swings by your desk is risky business. She may or may not arrive and you may or may not be ready to accept her words. If you haven't been practicing, you might not be in good enough form to take advantage of the inspiration when it does come.

What about writer’s block? Writer's block is a very useful excuse not to write. Of course sometimes we all feel less creative, but luckily the art of writing has many components: drafting, revising, organizing, reading and submitting. You can use your various energies on these different aspects of writing instead of succumbing to the writer's block excuse. 

Poet Dean Young writes in The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction, "I don’t believe in writer’s block, writing well is very easy; it’s writing horribly, the horrible work necessary to do to get to writing well, that is so difficult one may just not be willing to do it."

What's your writing practice like?


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