My church is currently featuring a series on foundational spiritual practices and as I listened to our minister a couple of Sundays ago, I started thinking (as always) about writing. What, I wondered, would I consider to be foundational writing practices? I pondered and made notes on this for a few days and this blog post is the result.
What do I mean by foundational practice? I mean the activities that will insure you a successful and inspired writing life, one that will keep you productive and make you happy. (Because I am convinced that if a writer is writing, the rest of her life can be falling apart and she'll still be happy, or at least deeply satisfied.)
So, here goes--my list of the ten foundational writing practices I think are vital to your life.
1. Write every day. Something, anything. Even if it is for five minutes. Committing to this has the potential to change your writing (and you) in a powerful way.
2. Follow the writing process. Let her rip! Write a shitty first draft in which everything you got at the moment is glumped onto the page. And then rewrite and revise it until your manuscript is a glowing jewel.
3. Read as much as you can in your genre--or any other genre, for that matter. If you're not reading you shouldn't be writing. Period. You've got to get the rhythm of words inside you in order to be able to spit them out onto the page.
4. Study craft. Read the experts so you can master the fundamentals--and then go beyond them. Read writing books, writing blogs, and any article on craft you can get your hands on.
5. Keep a journal and/or an idea book. Journaling and morning pages are wonderful tools to develop ease and flow in your writing. But sometimes when you're wrapped up in your WIP, you don't want to take time for journaling. That's cool. But at least keep a journal of ideas.
6. Learn the fundamentals of grammar and spelling. But don't obsess about them, either. You've got to learn the basics!
7. Connect with other writers. Okay, I know you're an introvert and would rather spend hours at your desk. But the rewards of connecting with other writers are immense. Nobody gets a writer like another writer, period. And these days you can connect online and never have to leave your desk. Except you also want to consider:
8. Move your body. Sitting at her desk all day makes Mary a wide girl. It's really important to move those bones--walking, running, yoga, something.
9. Calm your mind. Pay your hard-working brain some attention, too. Spend time in meditation, or prayer, or even just take a few deep breaths to clear the cobwebs out throughout the day. This will help with:
10. Stay positive. This is a tough business. You're going to get bad reviews, rejections from editors, crappy emails from people who don't like your work. If you maintain a positive mindset, it is easy to say, f--k it when this happens.
Okay, those are mine. What are yours?
Photo by clarita.