Day 4 of the Habits of Great Writers Challenge
Twelve years ago, I was a member of my middle school orchestra. (I played voila, thank you very much). The orchestra teacher was kind of psychotic, which is a great thing for a public school (please note my sarcasm) but she did teach our class one concept that stuck:
“Practice makes permanent.”
She stressed that even if you practice endlessly, you can’t guarantee that it will be perfect. If you practice the wrong hand position or the wrong finger placement, it will be permanent, and definitely not perfect. Therefore, practice makes permanent. It was a pessimistic lesson for a bunch of 7th graders, but it was an important one.
In the case of orchestra, “Practice makes permanent” is a bad thing, or it can be. However, in the case of writing, it’s a good thing.
If you write daily, then it will become easier to pick up the pen or turn on the laptop and start pecking away. Writing 300 words a day will turn into 500 a day and even hopefully 1000 words daily. Luckily though, there’s nothing permanent in writing. That’s what editing is for. There’s just something permanent in the writing habit.
So I practice. I open my story document – saved on my Darth Vader USB drive (borrowed from my boyfriend) and I write. Some days I just stare. Some days I add comments: “This needs work.” “Describe the character here.” “WHERE’S THE TENSION?!”
You know, helpful reminders. A few days later, the document will be full of comments. Some days it so full of notes that it’s tough to look at. But with work, and a little writing, I can have it comment-clean and a few pages longer within a week. Then the writing, re-reading, editing, extending process starts again. It’s a long one, and it’s definitely confusing, but there’s always progress. And progress is the point, as well as creating the permanent, but not always perfect, writing habit.
Here’s some helpful blog posts on creating a writing habit: