Saturday, August 9, 2014

Re-establishing a Practice

Photo: Underground Tour begins.
Beginning the Underground Tour in Seattle
This week we took an overnight trip to Seattle. We packed in several activities and even got a good night's sleep. And we had a great time. A couple of days away, no work, just fun and exploration, and silliness.

I also took the opportunity to re-establish my daily writing practice. I've been thinking about it. In the not too distant past I've written here about different sides of the writing every day issue and I still stand by my earlier thoughts: not every writer must write every day. But I also know that writing every day can be a benefit for some of us.

I needed a break from writing every day. I needed a break from the expectation that I had to write every day. I needed a break from the pressure of performing and "doing it right' or "doing it wrong." And I freely admit that the expectation and the pressure was internal. I could point to external experts and successful authors and say, see, they said so - or they do it so it must be right. I also know that I was the only one who could make it happen. Or not.

So I took a break.

Good idea. Really. Take one thing off the "must do" list and keep it enjoyable.

I also noticed that my writing production, when I'm not in an ongoing workshop or class slows. I can point to work - and it's true. I can point to theater - which is one aspect of my work - and it is also very true.

And I can point to times when I have written every day and I've been working my normal amount of hours and I've been doing a play. It worked.

There is also something to writing begetting writing. I was just having this conversation with another interpreter. Yes, we were talking about theater, interpreting theater - and about writing. We are both authors and we are both interpreters.

Writing every day can be like the joint fluid which keeps your knees and shoulders and hips and all of that in your body more mobile and moving easier. Writing every day can be the grease on the wheel which, when mobile, keeps it lubricated and the mechanisms working.

Or writing every day can be a signal to the Muse - or whatever you call your inspiration - that you are willing to show up. Then you have to listen, as the other interpreter-author pointed out. And she's right.

So I decided a couple or so weeks ago that I wanted to try writing every day. Not like the Morning Pages, though that was a very useful project many years ago. But something where I set a realistic goal to write every day. I didn't act on that decision. Until this week. Until we were in Seattle and we went to Elliott Bay Books and I found myself again standing in front of some blank journals. Knowing that I had several at home - but not like this one - and I bought the one that stood out to me.

Then I wrote. The next morning after my shower and while one of the other of the three of us was in the shower, I wrote. I decided on three pages a day, not because of Morning Pages though that is her magic number. But I decided on three pages because I know it is a little past my "done!" point and it will push me just a little.

I also decided - obviously since I purchased a notebook to write in - to do this writing by hand. This writing is the grease and the movement. I write well on the computer, efficient, fast, things work. But this writing is more from the body and that is what I need to communicate with and from more. Also so I don't feel the same pressure to produce that I sometimes do when I'm on the computer. Or feel like I should be editing the novel in progress.

This is writing from the gut.

And I am.

Trying to re-establish a daily writing practice. And to be gentle with myself and have self-compassion on the days when it may not happen; which I hope are few.