By Nancy Casey
When you have a writing practice, you decide that you are going to do some writing. For yourself. To see what good it might do you. This is not the same as “practicing” at writing with the idea of getting “better” at it. In your writing practice, you are already good enough.
One part of having a writing practice is about commitment and discipline. The rest is about freedom.
The commitment and discipline part is where you decide how much you are going to do and how often you are going to do it. Just set a minimum. You can always do extra. Writing daily can be really beneficial, but for starting out, three pages a week makes for a good commitment. A person can usually find the time to work that in.
As for the freedom part: it’s freedom—enjoy!
In this blog, I will give you ideas each week for writing at least 3 pages. There are so many different things you can do. You will prefer some of them to others. So just stick with it and find out what you like the best—and then do more of that.
Save the pages that you write. If you start out with loose pages in a folder, you can decide later if you want to keep your writing some other way—in a notebook or a scrapbook, for instance. I think there are a lot of benefits to writing by hand and having actual physical pages to touch and look at. But if you decide to write on an electronic device like a laptop or your phone, nobody is going to say you are doing it wrong. You just might have to adapt my suggestions a little bit.
Don’t show your work to anyone for the time being. Not because you are on a mission to write huge secrets, but because at the beginning you are finding your way. Even when people are trying to be helpful and supportive, their comments can sometimes derail you. After about 6 weeks, you will have more confidence and a better sense of what you are up to. Maybe then you will want to start sharing selected pages with selected people—or not.
Here is an exercise that will allow you to write at least one page. Do it at least 3 times this week.
Sit down somewhere with your writing materials. Make a list of everything that you see. Put the date somewhere on the page. Then look a little harder. See if you can add more things to the list. Don’t be afraid to be ridiculous. When you are all done, give it a title.
I like to do this with a particularly messy area of my house—kitchen counter, junk drawer, the pile of stuff on my bedroom floor—because there will be plenty of things to put on the list for sure. But you can do it anywhere—by a window, in a restaurant, on the street, waiting for an appointment. Sometimes the list will tell a story that only you can understand. Sometimes it’s pretty funny to read it later. However it works out, it’s always interesting because the list gives you a detailed snapshot from your life. You can see an example of this kind of list at http://authornancycasey.com/list-things-see-sample/
If writing the list inspires you to write more, go for it. But remember that the only “requirement” is that you sit down at three different times this week and make these three different lists. If you do that—bravo!—you have a writing practice.
Nancy Casey is a writer and teacher who has lived in rural Latah County for many years. You can see more of her work at http://www.authornancycasey.com