>Ever notice how lawyers “practice” and doctors “practice”? They don’t doctor and lawyer. Really, don’t writers basically just “practice” the same way? We don’t write–we practice writing. (Let’s leave aside for the moment that doctors and lawyer are all “practicing” on us while they hold our lives in their hands…that’s a little unnerving.)
There is a writing practice group in town that meets every week for almost 3 hours. I haven’t been able to meet with them in a long time, but I still keep up with them.
Why have I not met with them lately? I’ve been coming home and practicing writing every night after getting up in the morning and practicing writing. I’m “practicing” all the time.
In the mornings, I’m generally doing it alone. (It’s 4:20 a.m., and who else in their right mind is awake anyway? LOL) But alone sometimes isn’t as fun as in groups. Plus, I learn things from the group experience it might take me longer to learn alone.
Last night there were 4 of us on-line, practicing writing. How do we practice? I first heard it called “word war” at the nano; Natalie Goldberg calls it “writing practice.”
Get a few (or even 2) people together who want to write. Set a timer, and everybody writes their stuff. Timer goes off; people share the lines they like the best or the ones they hate the worst. Then set the timer again, and move on.
Why do I like this? Well, the beautiful torture of writing goes in short bursts this way, and to me, becomes fun–like a game. And anybody can play. When people show their stuff (and I’m talking 2 sentences is enough if you want), everybody stays encouraging and then you move on. No long debates, no criticism. Just doing it together. Getting it written…getting it done.
Occasionally, I’ll ask somebody for a better phrase to replace something I’ve got. Hasn’t failed to help me yet. Sometimes someone will ask why we think something isn’t working…we give our input, but the writer decides and they start again.
Writing practice gets to the meat of things too…you don’t spend hours on a sentence. You write it, and you move on. It’s truly amazing how you can get to the good stuff in a word war/writing practice. And it forces you to keep up the output.
I’ve found people who resist this approach haven’t tried it…I’ve not come across a person yet who did it a few times and didn’t find it (1) productive and (2) pretty damn fun.
So, if you’re a writer who is stuck, give it a try. It’s either that, or keep banging your head against the wall. Word wars are easier on the head.