Lately I've been thinking about how the act of doing something is—or perhaps more—important as the end product. True craftsmen know this, eschewing shortcuts in time or materials, taking the long way round. The method is the craft.
Writing is no different. Writing is a practice, a process, an end in itself. The result may be neither terribly remarkable nor popularly successful. But as Natalie Goldberg says,
'Ours will come in this lifetime or the next. No matter. Continue to practise.'
Here I'm sharing some gathered ideas (which I've found helpful) on this business of a writing practice. There's also few discoveries where the notion of process is both respected and revered. And lastly, I want to let you know about a special project I'm involved with, and how you can help get it started.
THE WORKSHOP ...
FIRST DRAFTS: Anne Lamott calls them 'shitty first drafts'. And they are. The point is to get it all down: don't think or edit or worry about spelling or grammar. (That comes later.) First, uncensor yourself and run blindly through the wild corners of your mind.
KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN: 'Be one of those on whom nothing is lost.' This Henry James' quote were my lecturer's first words in my first writing class on my first day at university. It's stuck with me. Draw from your own experiences; capture the detail as you witnessed it. Pay good attention―your life is at once both ordinary and extraordinary―then tell about it.
MAKE A LIST: When you sit down to write, the blank page can be scary. Have a list of prompt topics to help get you started (for example, an overheard conversation on the bus, the bridesmaids at the last wedding you attended). Add to the list as you think of them, and keep the list handy. This will also help you notice the astonishing characters and moments parading through your life.
KEEP AT IT: This is where the practice becomes your practise. Write through the doubts, the boredom, the triumphs, the fear. As Hemingway said, 'There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.'