Writing Every Day

Writing Every Day

I do work in a lot of different areas on teh internets. And each job I do has different effects on my mind. I have to enter that job's mind mode for a short or long period of time. I like writing mode but it is one of the hardest to come back to. Not sure why. It always has been.

When I was around 14, I picked up "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. It's a book on writing practice. A musician will play hundreds of songs in practice for every one he plays on stage. A boxer will spar with lots and lots of other boxers before he gets to fight for real. Writing is the same or should be.

Writing is not like programming. Ok, that's wrong. I have read some books on programming that have disproved that statement and they were a treat, let me tell you. Time to restate it. Good writing is not like programming. It is not that straightforward. When a script doesn't work, there is a black and white reason. That's the bitch about it. You know there's a bug. You just have to find it. Or someone else can. It really doesn't matter. You may have to practice programming to get faster at it, but for the most part we call this learning, not practice.

Practice is something you do to train your body or mind to sort of fall into doing something right. There is no steps one, two and three. Practice is a process of absorbing something new. When I first rode a motorcycle, I knew all the concepts of riding, but I felt clumsy as hell. Three months later, you would not have known. There is nothing I really "learned" in that time period. And if I had read a book, it probably wouldn't help much. I knew that the wheels acted a gyroscopes and that is what made leaning down to the ground possible. My body just would not let me do it for a few weeks.

My mind acts the same way when it comes to writing. But I think it forgets how to do things sooner. I could get on a motorcycle now and take off even though it's been about two years. If I have written in a couple of days, words just do not work for a while, especially if I have been writing code. I try and then I give up some days.

The way I see it. I have tons of crap words to get through to get to the stuff that is good. After reading "Writing Down the Bones" at 14, I wrote every day for almost three years straight with a goal of filling a 3 subject notebook each month. I was not afraid of writing by the end. I could write about anything and use a lot of different tones, rhythms, and vocabulary sets. I was in some ways better at writing than I am now. Because I consistently wrote.

I am making the attempt to go back to that practice. I may not write a post every day, but I will write, if it means writing, "I can't write. Who am I kidding?" over and over. That way I never have to come back to writing a stranger, scared of words.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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