Before this past summer, I never really thought of writing as something to be practiced. To be honest, I’ve never been too good with the idea of “practice,” anyway. It always felt unproductive. I practiced my trumpet in school mainly because we had to log how many hours of practice we did at home and get graded on it, and I was too strict with myself to lie about the time spent practicing.
I’m pretty sure the only reason I learned to type properly was due to my awesome keyboarding teacher Mrs. Smith, who made a song and dance to the sound of our practice typing.
FJF (space) FJF (space) *Mrs. Smith does a little dance*
Usually, though, I’m too interested in the finished product. I guess I thought that all writing needed to be awesome in order to be valuable. I didn’t think that I could just write nonsense in a spiral notebook and practice my craft so that my writing is better when it comes to creating that final product.
I knew that writers write and that if I wanted to be a writer I should write more. But I thought that meant, “write more good, finished products.” Now, I know better. I’ve been reading library books and trying to take in all the advice about writing practice. Two of my favorites so far have been Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Finding Your Writer’s Voice by Thaisa Frank & Dorothy Wall.
Tips for practicing writing:
- Use pen and paper. At least try it. It feels totally different from typing, and the words seem to flow more naturally.
- Write regularly. Be as regular as you can, and write SOMETHING. Anything.
- Write in different circumstances. When you’re alert or tired, when you’re alone or in company, when you’re stressed and calm, when you’re inside or outside, with a cat on your lap, in poor lighting, with a brownie on the table, with tea steeping on the counter, with distractions and without. Change it up. Try everything.
- Don’t read back over your writing practice right away.
- Find things to write about. Make notes (in your journal, on your phone, through email, whatever), and take inspiration from life. Take notice if a neat phrase crosses your mind out of nowhere. It won’t stick with you for long. Watch people. Look at things. Use these notes as prompts to begin your writing practice.
Writers must write
Writers do write and must write, and the truth is that practice is far from unproductive. In fact, whatever your craft is, you have to do it over and over and over again if you want to become great. Great cooks cook. Great painters paint. Great musicians music. (Yeah, I just said that. Deal with it.) Great writers write.
Practice: to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.
Some bits and pieces from my notebook:
The hot-pink high-heel dangled from one finger. . .
At the first sound of raindrops, the cat dashed for cover under the couch. . .
The waves were huge. I had never seen them so big, so violent. So green. . .
I’m gripping his hand. Partly for the security, partly to ground me in reality. Partly because I can’t explain or express what I’m feeling, but I know it’s okay because he’s there. . .
Libraries are cool. All the books smell of books. . .
Green crunchy cabbage is good in ramen. . .
The fan of the AC whirrs and blows and motors on. . .
League of Legends: the game where you die. The game that kills you, enrages you, addicts you. . .