Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PROCESS- Writing Daily

Ever since my 6th Christmas, I have kept some sort of diary, log, or journal. My first one had a lock and Holly Hobbie on the cover. I took up two lines for each letter. Phrases like, "I love Danny" and "My cat is SOOOoooooooo pretty" are common throughout the first few years of random writing.

My next diary had a blue cover and again, a lock. Apparently, as an elementary student, I was more in touch with my surroundings. I wrote about the day, how the sun was shining, how it was raining, snowing, cold, and how (especially during summer vacations) the scenery differed from my norm. I’m happy to see that even then, I did take my writing with me.

Then I moved on to unlocked journals. Funny how these later books of my youth actually contain the fluff that should be kept under lock and key. I have quite a few of these “revealing” books.

As time progressed, and I matured, I experimented with other forms of paper and ink “journals”. I used "Travel Journals", wrote regularly in "pregnancy journals", bought some fancy-smancy bound books with ribbons, and even "photo-journaled" my year (with short notations).

Now I'm in a different phase of writing yet again. I try to maintain the "three-pages-a-day" mantra set out in Julie Cameron's book, The Artist’s Way. (Suggestion for those of you wanting to do this, if you write 3 pages a day for a year that equates to 1095 pages. Divide that by your average cheap Mead notebook (70 pages) and that means you would fill 15 notebooks.) My writing is more regular and substantial. It's sometimes superficial, but then again, some days are.

Last night, as I was re-reading a chapter, I was tearing myself down for not writing my 3 pages the past few days. I gave myself the usual excuses: no time, no energy, no space for self, and nothing to write about. But as I was reading, I kept returning to an analogy that Cameron wrote comparing athletes and their training to writing our daily pages. I am always, and I mean ALL-WAYS a better writer when I've been writing regularly. So why take a break in my training?

As a teacher, I can set aside anywhere from 10-20 minutes at the start of the class for writing. Easy. Can I make them write? Not always so. But often my students are somewhere in that same continuum of writing that I have been. Some are ahead of me. Some students are so new to writing that I (and other teachers too) must learn to accept that this is a basic, fact-driven stage, and that after a month or so, they will move on too.

But as writers, we have to stop from making excuses. Thank goodness Nike coined the phrase for us: JUST DO IT!—write today.

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