Category Archives: Practice

The writing journey

Writing is a journey, not a race. There is no going from A to B in a straight line. There is no short cut. And this can be frustrating for writers or even off putting if they misunderstand the nature of the writing journey. But if you realise and embrace its true nature, it becomes enjoyable. You could compare it to running. No two bodies are the same. And it takes time, commitment, discipline and small steps. If you do too much too soon you are likely to get injured. If you do too little, you won’t progress. If you don’t listen to your body, you might actually do something that will compromise your journey.

Writing is a bit the same. If you start fast and furious, you might get something on paper (and in theory there is nothing wrong with that) but you might then be faced with material that you are not happy with. Or you may get discouraged if you can’t keep it up and give up when you hit the first obstacle.

You cannot force it, yet you must have discipline and practice regularly. You must explore what others have done but ultimately do what works for you. Some like to write in the morning, some in the wee hours of the night. Some write from home. Others like to write in caf├ęs. Some like to write by hand in big notebooks. Others prefer the computer. Not to mention that some like to write poetry, others short stories. And so on. You have to find what works for you. But again. What works for you might change and evolve over time and you need to know this so that you don’t get panicky if what has worked for you up to now, doesn’t work anymore.

And you must have the wisdom to take breaks or change your pace when your life demands it, or you will burn out. Did you know for example that it is not possible to write more than three hours a day and stay productive?

I have experienced set backs both in my running and writing journeys. They are not really set backs but things that come in the way, but they need to be embraced as part of the journey. If you approach writing like a race, however, these meanderings will frustrate you. Everything that happens in the life of a writer informs his or her writing. Life is part of the writing journey. You night have to shelve a project and start a new one. And that’s ok.

What you write needs to rest between writing sessions. You need to sleep on it. Whilst you do that and get on with your life, you continue writing in your head but from a different part of your brain: the unconscious. It’s the same as trying to resolve a problem. You do research. You gather all the pros and cons and how other people have resolved the issue. Ultimately, you are likely to find a solution whilst having your shower in the morning three days later, after when you unconscious has been mulling over it without you realising it and come up with the perfect solution.

And when you finish a piece, you might have to let it rest for weeks to gain enough perspective to get back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. This is the nature of the work.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere