Any respectable social media-tor keeps blogs updated. They do not let a blog lapse for three years before posting again. There’s no way around this: I am a blog laggard. Maybe worse. “Laggard” indicates a not very snappy pace. For the last three years, I’ve had no pace at all–just a loud silence of zero posts.
So what do I have to say about writing today? I am on break from teaching, and I am writing fifteen minutes each morning (most mornings, and definitely not before coffee) without planning what I’ll write, without getting hyper concerned with perfection, without revision. It’s a lovely thing. I usually generate at least two handwritten pages.
This practice reminds me of James Scott Bell’s 350s, a guideline that says just write 350 words before you do anything else in your day. I learned about 350s in Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, but you can read about this practice in Scott Bell’s Writer’s Digest article, “10 Disciplines for Fiction Writers.” Enjoy!
My son recently said that he wants a job that does not feel like work. Much (or most?) of the world works to pay bills, and like my son, many people work hard every day expending energy that does not arise from passion but from necessity. I’ve always thought our world would improve quickly if we had government-sponsored sabbaticals–six months every three years–enough money to have our needs met for six months so that we can dream, draw, write, compose, play instruments, sew, wander, get lost, find ourselves, look elsewhere, focus right here, garden in the big juicy now. Creativity needs fallow time to gather energy.
What does all this have to do with writing? I think many of us have the perception that making art means experiencing one happy spark of creativity after another. So, yes, artists follow passion. But passion isn’t all peaches and cream. Passion requires discipline–the act of consistent work. Consistent work is a spiritual practice. We lay the paint on the canvas, snap the photo, write the word over and over again because we have faith in our passion. Practicing our craft one moment at a time is an act of shuttling between left and right brain. We weave together discipline, passion, play, and work. The intermingling of despair and joy, sweat and rest, meditation and light-speed inspiration powers our art.
So write with and through inspiration and drudgery. We need both.