Friday, February 3, 2012


It's Friday and I just ordered yet another writing craft book from Why do I believe that reading all these how-to's will teach me to write? Why do I complain about not having time to write when all I need to do is clear away the stack of books on the coffee table and go to my writing desk? Many of these authors recommend doing a daily writing practice.

Writing practice is the process of choosing some random prompt and writing stream of conscious sentences for a set time, like ten minutes. Using a timer the writer has to race to finish some complete idea before the buzzer startles her from her writing trance. Almost every writing book suggests this, except one or two I've seen recently. And of course when you read conflicting information you have to decide which is more correct, or which is right for you.

"The Memoir Project" suggests that writing practice is not only unnecessary but hampers you from getting to the real work of writing a book, short story, or essay that can be marketed someplace. For all the ten minute timed writings you've done, you could have been doing some "real" writing. Makes sense. All those half hours spent writing morning pages could have added up to several novels of 80,000 words or more. They could have been used to create enough poems to fill several collections. In all these years of writing morning pages and doing timed writing practice, I could have written my memoir, revised it, and had it published.

So why waste the time?

Sorry to say I haven't solidly answered that question for myself yet. I'm getting closer. Maybe I'll find the answer in my three long hand pages tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll find it in a ten minute writing session based on the prompt, "why write morning pages?"

The answer to writing dilemmas is not an exact science like mathematics, but then that's why I've chosen this literary path. I like the open ended question that piques my imagination. It's a balancing act and I am midway across the tightrope.