Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kicking (in) the Habit

I came across a short little piece from Lifehack.org about 5 Hacks Just for Writers. The part that caught my eye:
There is a certain mindset that goes along with writing well. It isn’t a talent that you are either born with or must cultivate; instead, the writing mindset is a question of being able to focus on the task at hand. The easiest way I’ve found for getting into the writing mindset is to create a pattern: if I sit down to write every day at the same time, I can focus on my writing faster.
For me, there's a certain dread that comes along with [GASP] writing. Although I have other issues that I'm fighting against, I think part of the struggle is feeling like it takes too long to get going, and that I won't have enough time to finish. But if I can get in the groove quickly, and "time" myself to keep from over-analyzing every word or phrase, maybe writing won't be so scary.

Anyone care to share success stories from devoting a set amount of time each day?


Jen said...

I would love to share a success story, but I've never been able to give my writing priority in my life. Everything else comes first and then oh yeah, I should write. With Jeff's sudden passing, it makes me really realize that I am not promised tomorrow. So, my short term goal is to set aside at least one hour a day to either write, journal, or read a writing book. I'll let you know how it goes.

Courtney said...

I relate to your comment, Jen. Actually, I am surprised, because I think of your writing as seasoned and mature--and I certainly can't imagine how timing works with a little one to tend to along with the writing! (I remember reading a book about the poet Anne Bradstreet paralleled writing with mothering: she saw her writing projects as something to be protected and nurtured just as her physical children, and drew inspiration from being a creator both in the natural and intellectual realm.)

A number of years back, I tried to write an hour before work every day. I did this faithfully for some months, and it was certainly habit-forming: but I was amazed at how uninspiring much of it turned out to be. Actually, it was quite discouraging.

However, in hindsight, I believe I was looking for perhaps more than the discipline was supposed to afford. Rather than meaningful page after page, I found, in going back through the effort-filled sentences and paragraphs, there would inevitably be *something* worthwhile: a couple sentences, a single sentence, sometimes just a phrase--but there would almost always be something there to build upon, no matter how small.

I grew to see the exercise as something akin to panning for gold: eventually, a precious chunk of good raw stuff is going to come along, and then, it needs to be hammered on, teased out, and made into some kind of written filigree worth sharing.

Confession. My cat woke me up around 5 am this morning; the slowly pulsing light of my powerbook caught my eye, and I thought, 'gee, what a great time to do a little writing before work...' and went back to bed. I hope to make a better decision...tomorrow? :0)