Tag Archives: Writing Practice

Wild Mind: The First Rule of Writing Practice

28 May

Every weekday morning, I practice writing for one hour.  It’s a lot more fun than the scales Mrs C- had me practice on the piano when I was 5, and the aim is the same: I’m rehearsing the fundamentals.  Writing practice is my trip to the word gym, the way I keep fighting (or writing?) fit and work on my technique.

But how does one practice writing? As posted earlier, I follow the 7 rules outlined by Natalie Goldberg in Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life.  They work for me.  There are probably as many different answers to this question as there are writers, considering those who don’t intentionally practice.  Yet I suspect Ms Goldberg’s first, most fundamental rule is a necessary one for any successful practice, and that rule is,

Keep your hand moving.

Why is this important? Continue reading


Writing Mindfully or Writing Entranced?

16 May

I do an hour of writing practice each day, following these guidelines.

One of my goals of late has been to focus on mindfulness while writing. Simple, in theory: Make writing into a meditative practice that builds awareness. At the end of it, I feel clear-headed, more stable and focused, a clarity that shows up in my writing. But I’m not sure it results in my best writing.

Today, I wrote a passage about my first kiss. I was totally lost in it. The memories flashed up in front of my eyes one after the other, and I grasped onto what I could, pulling them down from the mental ether, and stitching them to page with the black thread of letters. It was easily one of the more evocative pieces I’ve written, recently.

In your opinion: Does writing require an altered state of mind, a writing trance? Or is getting clear mentally the best way to get your thoughts out on to the page?

Raw and Unprocessed Writing Practice (100% Organic)

2 Mar

Every day I do an hour of writing practice. The core of this practice is what I call freewriting, similar to stream of conscious, but often directed by a basic prompt, such as “I remember” or “I know.” Also, when I come across a memory, I tend to surf the wave of it, letting it carry me forward, but following it from beginning to end. For me, stream of conscious tends to be much more associative and fractured.

Done right, it’s an act of meditation and a great way of generating material for my writing. It is not, in itself, good writing. Writing practice is about uncapping the part of your brain that creates and letting it bubble out like frothing champagne. Thinking about it being good writing just gets in the way, and keeps me from developing trust in my voice.

I’ve decided to post the results of the first round of today’s freewriting here. It’s a 10-minute segment that’s raw, unedited and typo-ridden. The only tweaks I’ve made is where I mistyped a word that would be illegible without a gentle nudge by me. Here it is: a little sloppy slice of my writing practice. Continue reading

Excerpts from Daily Practice: Week of 15 Feb 2010

19 Feb

As mentioned previously, I write in timed chunks every day. Most of this material is raw, so I won’t post it here; it wouldn’t make for very compelling reading.  That said, part of the purpose of this blog is to get my writing in front of people. My plan: to take certain passages, revise them briefly for coherency, and post them here.

Here are the lines for this week:


I am sitting at the dining room table. My wrists ache because the table top is too high.  One foot is on the ground, the other curled like a cat in the crook of the table leg.


Me am dog. Me spit out heat all day, grinningly.  At night, me am quiet. So quiet. You cannot hear me. Me am dog ninja! Except when moon shines fully. Then me cannot resist.  You get wrong about that. We am not howling at moon. We just like the acoustics full moon provides. Our voices carry farther in moonlight, and the songs are sweeter. Me will sing down moon. Someday.


Cold rage envelopes her. Nobody else notices, but she feels it like a cyclone locked tight in her heart.  Can’t let them see me crack, she thinks. She shifts but her whole body is tensed, electric;  it takes everything she’s got to contain herself. She tries to let a little bit of it go. To just note it, like the Buddhists do. But the feeling won’t budge.   With a thin sigh she chooses to leave her body. Lord knows, if I have one talent, it’s that. She lets go, and it’s as easy falling; she become mindless, slack, and despondent. Doubt they’ll notice. When she comes back a few minutes later, some of the feeling has evaporated; the hungry edge of it has eased, and she is ready to speak.

Writing: An Ebullient Apologia

16 Feb

God, i love writing,

That’s how I feel right now, and I’m sticking to it. As far I’m concerned, writing can heal lepers, bring about world peace, and make the perfect milkshake. It’s just. that. good.

Why the happy happy? Well, that’s complicated. And very simple. The reasons are as  follows: Continue reading

Excerpts from My Daily Practice

12 Feb

As mentioned previously, I write in timed chunks every day. Most of this material is raw, so I won’t post it here; it wouldn’t make for very compelling reading and some is too personal.  That said, part of the purpose of this blog is to get my writing in front of people. My plan: to take certain passages, revise them for coherency, and post them here.

Here are the lines for this week:

A little girl walked past the window. Her pale ruddy face was a simple circle. Her nose buttoned upwards.  No, it was a mutt nose, one that could not decide what kind of nose it wanted to be.  She held her father’s hand, he with a bowling ball bull dog head.


He sat on the pale white beach, shivering off the cold ocean sweat. He lay down, naked and gleaming like bone in the light of night, that reflected bastard sunlight which the mirroring moon provides.  Hand between his legs to warm himself, he imagined his ancestors pulling themselves out of this same sea, glooping out of the mucky brackish waves, and once on land, beginning to beat the s**t out of each other. He figured that’s when the problems started.


The girl with palm fronds of curly red hair used to tell people about their houses.  Not the place where they lived, but a place that reflected the person, which she summoned in her mind’s eye, complete with rooms that she could walk around.  This was her psychic ability, this and dreaming of people she would someday meet. With nervous witchy eyes, half hidden by the fiery cascade of her curls, she told me my house was entirely white, with paintings that were black and red. There was sunlight on the walls, but no visible windows. And that she didn’t see most people’s house, so I was special.

Words, Words, Words: Good Quotes

11 Feb

“We have to look at our own inertia, insecurities, self-hate, fear that, in truth, we have nothing valuable to say. When your writing blooms out of the back of this garbage compost, it is very stable. You are not running from anything. You can have a sense of artistic security. If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”

–Natalie Goldberg