Often when I mention writing practice in a conversation, the other person tilts their head to their side in confusion. Huh? Writing practice? What does that mean?
I like to use a comparison to ice skating to help define writing practice.
Think of an Olympic ice skater. Thousands of dark, cold mornings are spent on the ice practicing before the dramatic moment they perform a triple toe loop in an Olympic rink. Writing isn’t any different. But for some reason in our society there is a collective assumption that writers simply sit down at their laptop (previously typewriter) chain-smoking cigarettes and, without hiccups, fluidly write the great American Novel.
On the contrary. Writing takes practice, just like any other skill. (It also takes discipline to burn through monkey mind, but that's another post for another day.) Writing practice - where you write daily/regularly in response to a prompt for a set period of time - is like the ice skater hitting the ice every day. You are building your writing muscles.
There are dozens of other benefits of a writing practice. Here’s a few more from author Judy Reeves. I rely on her book, A Writer's Book of Days, for its wealth of writing tips and daily prompts.
- Writing will come more easily and be less forced.
- You’ll learn rhythms as a writer, to trust your ups and downs.
- You’ll find what matters to you as a writer and what you want to write about
- You’ll have an opportunity to grieve what needs to be grieved, and to heal.
- You’ll explore clefts and chasms of stories and characters that will deepen a piece or open new worlds you might never have discovered otherwise
I like to call writing practice writing into the abyss. It is an act of faith. Day in and day out, you put pen to paper, without any guarantee of results, just like the young Olympic hopeful. But then a moment comes, a deep calling to write something, and you funnel your writing practice towards that subject. And voila – the power of writing practice reveals itself.