Comments on the Writing Life … Part 2
Guest Blogger: Kathy Dunn, Straw Dog Founding Member
This is Part 2 of a Three-Part posting on the Writing Life. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can find it below. When you’re done, come on back and have a look at this one. — Kathy
Is life with writing in it …better than life without writing in it?
If so, then it follows that writing frequently will create a life that is more frequently …better.
Find ways to write on a regular basis, and you are creating a writing practice.
Writing as a practice isn’t about production – though it will likely generate writing that is deep and strong. It isn’t about success – though you may feel at times satisfied and fulfilled. And it’s not about earning money – though you may indeed use it in making a living.
Writing is simply…a practice. It’s the habit of taking time to write.
It’s trusting that if you carve out the time and move the pen,
something new will come.
Writing isn’t a problem to be solved; it’s a mystery to be explored… Likewise, a writing practice isn’t a discipline to be met, it’s a trust that something new and interesting awaits you. Whether it’s serious or silly, fierce or confused, joyful or wailing: writing can be counted on to tap the imagination, offer new perspectives, and reveal aspects of the world – and ourselves – we hadn’t fully understood.
Carve out time for your writing practice. Creativity is a deep human calling, and commitments to your self – and your creativity – need to hold the same weight as commitments to work, family and friends.
Start a journal. On the side. Don’t agonize over how or when to write, or even what use it will ever have – just do it. Journaling is like composting: allowed to ferment, today’s random leftovers become a rich soil that supports something new and unexpected. Jungle flowers, heart songs, dirt roads with broken bridges… you never know what will emerge. Just trust.
Find a workshop; find a mentor; find another writer and exchange your work. Share your writing life.
Read. Find an author you like and read their work: novels, short stories, poetry, editorials. Do a Google search and you’ll likely find them. If they’re alive, write to them, tell them how their writing moves you. If they’re not alive, write to them, tell them how their writing moves you.
Explore literary journals. Find one you like and subscribe to it. Orion, The Sun, Peregrine, Exquisite Corpse – there are thousands out there, and you can read many of them for free at your local library. Several journals post online as well.
Over time, you’ll build up a number of ways to share your writing. This is good. Why? Because:
(a) You’ll have company on the journey – someone who hears you!
(b) You’ll learn through their writing as well as your own. …And
(c) You’ll be building the habit of doing something you like – something that satisfies your soul and expands your life – more often.
In the process, you’ll also help others strengthen and deepen their writing practice. Your quiet, humble practice will take root – and your writing will grow.
When my children were young and there were precious few hours for sleeping, I spent one morning a month with a friend and mother who happened to write. Between love and desire, we managed to make a batch of popovers, tend to our children, and talk writing while we passed the apple-buttered treats around the table. The company, commitment, and ritual all served to support our hit-and-miss writing lives – and at least two great poems about popovers came out of that kitchen.