One Hour Every Day: Part 2

Because I’m not the most disciplined writer, writing for an hour a day sounds reasonable.

I can get up in the morning, get a cup of tea, and sit at my desk to work on a piece, do some journaling, write something for my blog, or compose a marketing piece like a synopsis. Emails, texting, and tweeting don’t count nor should they. However, more formal correspondence, though borderline, should because it requires complete sentences, good grammar, and thoughtful construction. I don’t write letters often anymore, only occasionally, but I remember the pre-computer days when everyone wrote letters, and long-distance telephone calls were rare and expensive.

I’m not disciplined, and I know very well how life can intervene and intercept writing time so that even one hour seems impossible. But writers have to write; we have to develop a practice. I have to develop a practice. And one hour is a good starting point.

Sitting down to write for an hour is like a runner who wisely stretches and warms up before taking off down the road. It’s like a pianist practicing scales: playing strengthens the wrists and fingers over time so they become flexible and can respond to what the music demands.

Writers need to warm up, flex their muscles, too, and not just my hands and fingers. Because I use my body to write, writing is a physical activity. Calling up the words and transforming ideas into language require brain-to hand coordination. It’s the practice of putting words on the page in a coherent way. Ideas float out from the ethers all the time; it’s the writer’s job to tether those ideas with words. Pin them down. Make sense of them. Find the precise words and language to convey meaning that will resonate with readers.

I agree with Ian Brennan: writing should be a daily practice. I don’t know whether the writing will get easier. I hope so. But first of all, I need to get my butt into the chair for at least an hour and have my pen and paper or computer ready. Theoretically, my body will become a more responsive instrument over time to whatever the brain conjures up. The pianist develops a relationship to the piano keys, to the pedals, to the entire instrument; she stretches her fingers daily to produce the notes desired. Similarly, the writer needs to sit at her desk for at least one hour to develop a relationship with her writing tools.

This I know: when the writing starts to flow, the measurement of time becomes meaningless.