On Becoming A Writer — Step Three: Keep Your Momentum Going

Once you’ve established or re-established some momentum with your writing practice, it’s best to do everything you can to stay on track and keep building on your forward motion. In a sense, you’re working to develop a writing habit so that writing naturally becomes an integral part of your daily life. You may reach a point of sensitivity where you actually don’t feel quite complete unless you’ve honored that inner call to create and write.

I still remember a phone conversation many years ago with a close writing friend. She asked how I was doing and I bitched and moaned about this nagging sense of dissatisfaction and vacuity that was plaguing me.

After I finished my diatribe, she asked me, “Have you written today?” and I had to admit I had not.

She said, “Sounds to me like you’re simply a writer who isn’t writing.”

I had to sheepishly admit that perhaps this was indeed the crux of my somewhat melodramatic angst.  We hung up after agreeing that we would each sit down then and there and write for a set period of time, gaining solace and support in the fact that across the miles a fellow friend and writer was engaging in the same process and the knowledge that, each in our own way, we were honoring our urge to write.

Find What Works For You

There are no hard and fast rules for the craft and process of writing—for practically every single rule about writing, there are examples of established writers who have successfully broken them—but there are certain guidelines that seem to work for most writers.  I will summarily list a few here and discuss them in more detail in future posts.  The point is to start discovering what works for you and gather around yourself a sense of a structure and methodology that supports your writing. Some of these guidelines may sound simplistic and none of them are original but, as in the phone call with my friend, sometimes it’s refreshing just to be humble and open to commonsense and practical advice, to awaken anew to what in Zen is called Beginner’s Mind.

Write on a regular basis. Nothing will build an inner sense of trust and confidence in your identity as a writer than a track record of continuity in your writing practice.  Become an habitual writer.

Suspend the editorial, judgmental mind.  You can critique or edit your work later. For now, just write. As Natalie Goldberg advises:  Allow yourself to write the worst junk in America.

Develop a team of writing allies.  These can be actual mentors, friends or writing group members or “virtual allies” in the form of authors and books that inspire your creative writing endeavors.  A few creative writing books to look at include:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  Now considered a classic for “freeing the writer within.”

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. A guided 12-week program for recovering and enhancing one’s artistic creativity.

Writing Brave & Free by Ted Kooser & Steve Cox. Plenty of practical advice and “encouraging words for people who want to start writing” that apply as well for those of us who have been at it for a while.

If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.  Another timeless classic on writing and the creative process.

4 thoughts on “On Becoming A Writer — Step Three: Keep Your Momentum Going

  1. These are all good views on writing I believe, although I don’t rely nearly so much on teamwork and instead tend to view it as more of a personal experience, but that’s just my view

  2. Yes, writing is essentially a solitary and personal pursuit (with exceptions, like if you’re a member of a script writing team for TV or movies, say) but that does not necessarily mean that one is constrained to writing within a vacuum or bubble. Even when we are writing alone in a room, aren’t we, in a sense, in communion with others, including the many authors and mentors who have inspired us or the presence of our intended audience, characters from our stories, figures from our past, etc.

    I will be writing soon about “writing groups,” that include not only critique-type groups but also participating in small groups that meet regularly to actually write together. I’ve been a member of one such group that has met weekly now for about 13 years and still remains a vibrant, creatively exciting venture. I find this type of engagement a beneficial adjunct to my solitary writing practice, in many ways. More about this later.

    Of course, the key for all of us is to find the particular ways and means that feed our individual writing pursuits. I’m for whatever works . . .
    Regards, Philip

  3. Hi, Philip,

    I love this post as I haven’t been writing lately and am becoming quite “b-word-y”.

    I’m going to highlight this post on my blog and link back to it because I like your suggestions on writing and reference books.

    I hope you are doing well.

    Thanks for the great post…I hope to see more from you!

  4. Pingback: On Becoming a Writer… « Poet Verse

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