Friday, September 21, 2012

Writing Samurai

I'm on a mission to master the craft of writing. Of all the literature I've read that was designed to guide one on this path, there is a salient piece of advice that I've found as a common thread among them: to be a better writer, you have to write everyday. A nugget of wisdom of which I was suspiciously afraid.

To master a craft a person must spend 10,000 hours of his or her lifetime dedicated solely to practicing this one activity. Malcom Gladwell revisited this theory in his book "Outliers", outlining how professional athletes and people considered to be gurus have reached, or exceeded this magic number.

Unfortunately, I'm not always motivated to write, and even when I am, it isn't guaranteed that I'll be able to pin point a worthy topic of which I'm proud enough to share. At other times, my environment sabotages my intentions with barking dogs, email, and you tube videos. Handling distractions long enough to get into any type of rhythm is an art in and of itself.

I've read articles that share iPad apps in the form of productivity tools that assist in time management, provide various reminders, and others designed to help you focus on writing by preventing you from logging in to other programs. We've come a long way from post-it-notes and tying rubber bands around our fingers.

We're probably all too familiar with distractions these days. With the ubiquity of social media, and our growing fear of being left out of the know, we have conditioned ourselves to constantly peruse Facebook, perking up at notification sounds and text messages in Pavlovian fashion. And even with my Herculean strength, the gods and their mischievous ways often prevail. Social networking, news, and an instantaneously searchable universe of information...all at the tip of our fingers make it virtually impossible to concentrate.

Some articles suggest finding your most productive time to write, others proffer more technical tips, and yet others attempt to take you on some spiritual journey of discovery and introspection. While I find all of these methods to be insightful, and helpful in getting the most out of the time you do spend writing, I have yet to find the key to unlocking the doors that lead to the core of my imagination. The tranquil ocean of creativity that silently stirs, waves of inspiration slowly forming, eventually crashing upon the sandy shore. It is here that I want to walk barefoot, picking up exotic sea creatures and feeling the cool water blanket my feet.

So, yes - writing is about practice, productivity, and everything in between. My task is to not try to hit a home run every time I come up to bat, but just get a base hit. Forget about the perfection of the art, the rituals, the ceremonious sharpening of the blade or purging of evil. Sit down, take a deep breath, and let the words the exhaling of your breath, or the retreating tide upon that special beach.


mischief said...

There is an interesting book called "The Artist's Way" about this very thing. It suggest some routines that are designed to help writers become "unblocked" so that they never sit and wonder what to write simply by developing behaviour patterns that prevent this from happening. I have never had the self-discipline to follow the suggested routines, but I suspect there's something to the idea.

Brown said...

mischief - Thanks! I wonder if downloading the app to my iPad is counter intuitive...

Brown said...
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Maria said...

I never follow advice. I think writing is intensely personal and no book can really guide one. For me, it is forcing myself to sit down and not get up until I have written something interesting, even if it is just one sentence. The thing is...once I write that sentence, another follows and then another and so on and so forth.