Saturday, December 16, 2006

Getting into the rhythm

When do you write? Do you write every day? Do you have a favorite time of the day, a time when you feel more present, more creative? Do you warm up, write in a journal, do free writes or some sort of imagery calisthenics, or do you jump right into a poem? When do you revise?

I ask because this year I haven't been able to get into the writing rhythm. I'm a big believer in the "writing every day" approach, as opposed to "writing when the muse hits you over the head with a lightning bolt, or her purse."

I've heard that it's good to write early in the morning, because you are closer to your dreams. I'm still working on that one.

One year, I got up nearly every morning at about 5:00 so that I could write be for the rest of the household woke up. I'd do a little free writing, trying to drum up ideas that might turn into poems, and then I'd work on revisions to projects that were already in progress. I found that sometimes all my poems were about fatigue and darkness. I also found that at such an early hour, it was easy to turn off my inner critic. Maybe I couldn't even hear my inner critic. It was enough just to show up and make the effort (and maybe that's a pretty low expectation). Then I found that I was just plain exhausted. By October, I had to give up and sleep that extra 45 minutes.

I know that many people get up at 5:00 and even 4:00 in the morning so that they have writing time, but I'm still looking for a different strategy.

And that means that I'm still not writing every day.

I've tried to set aside "writing days" in which I can get a couple of solid, two-hour blocks of time in. This has worked well as a New Year's resolution, except that I've never made it more than four or five weeks into the year. Another opportunity is coming in a couple of weeks.

I've tried including everything as writing—letters to friends count (even in e-mail), journal entries count, when I make them, poems count and even the blah, blah, blah woe kind of venting that sometimes just needs to get out so that it's out of the way. I've tried to write at lunch, except that I don't really take a lunch break. I've set aside time in the afternoon, after work, and it rarely works.

I've thought, "I'll write on the bus!" (I even started to write a novel on the bus—bad idea in so many ways), but then I can't get a seat. It's hard to write in a moving vehicle and it's hard to write standing up, and I can't even attempt to do both at the same time unless I grow at least one more arm. Alas, I am no starfish.

Do you have a practice, a plan that works for you? How do you get into the rhythm? When do you write?

(A note on mechanics: I had a request for a serif font, so this is Georgia. If you think it's easier to read, let me know.)

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