b h a g . n e t   visual and conceptual exchange   b h a g . n e t

bhag cover page                   Return to current word from bhag                      


October 12, 2003


by S. E. Chambers, associate editor

We all know the saying "practice makes perfect". In her book about writing, Natalie Goldberg considers how a writer can practice. There are phrases that we use in our daily conversations such as "I remember when..." and "I can/can't do..." and "I have heard..." that we writers can use to invoke a flow of subconscious mutterings. It is almost as if these simple phrases can open up a communication between the surface and the inner self. After doing the recommended exercises Natalie provides, I was left with the intense need to write more—but I realized that I didn't have the time. There wasn't an ounce of time left for me to devote to my writing after classes, socializing, coursework, and other time-consuming activities.

I read that Natalie had decided to make meetings with a friend to write. She would show up at the meeting place and start writing immediately even if her friend didn't show. She knew that her friend had other obligations, but that wasn't the point. She was able to set an appointment that she had no excuse to break. As a writer, I should set a daily appointment with myself to write about everything and anything and not break that appointment. What is the difference between having to meet a friend for coffee for an hour and having to write for an hour with a cup a coffee? Isn't it just as important to keep a date with writing?

Here's how I'm going to do it. I'll think of all the topics I would have covered in conversation with a friend and write about them. Shoes, clothes, the injustice of having a triple workload, the way coffee makes you feel, window-shopping, teeth, fashion, weather, the smells of the city, and so on. I'll write it down and watch how my writing improve as I learn to express my ideas on every topic imaginable. Try it yourself, and I think you will be surprised how much you know and just didn't have the time to put into writing before. Like singing or dancing or any skill, writing improves through practice. I'm going to practice writing—about everything and anything—and see how far I can get in a day, a week, a month, and even a year.

© 2003 S. E. Chambers

Return to current word from bhag