How to Practice Writing Every Day

practice writing

Tips and reasons to practice writing every day.

Please welcome Sylvia Nankivell with a guest post on writing every day.

As writers we often wait for that flash of inspiration before we grab a pen and wrestle with the paper in a flurry of blood, sweat and tears. This flash can come at any time: when waiting for a bus, while drinking your morning coffee, or quite possibly not at all.

All of the master authors of the 20th century tell us that if you want to be a great writer, then you have to learn to write every day. Hemingway would rise after breakfast and sit at his office desk from 9 until 5. He treated it exactly like a day job and of course the results were astounding. I’m not saying you have to don a suit, carry a briefcase and chain yourself to the desk until five o’clock, but a little taste of Hemingway’s method can help.

The bottom line is simple; to be a great writer you have to write, and this means practicing writing every day.


Why Practice Writing Every Day?

Writers are the artisans of the written word; they are painters with language and they are storytellers. To be the best at your job you have to hone your craft and this means practicing.

You wouldn’t expect a ballet dancer to perform Swan Lake without a rehearsal; you wouldn’t expect a baker to make a cake without the proper ingredients; and you couldn’t invite an electrician into your home to fix your wiring if he or she had no experience. The same goes for writing.

You will never get better at writing if you don’t practice; this means that at the end of your daily writing session you might have five pages of junk and one paragraph that means something, yet it doesn’t matter—if the art of practice delivers one sentence, then it has been worthwhile.

How to Find the Time

If you want to write, you will make time for it. I have heard of mothers waking up at five a.m. to write for two hours before their children stir. I have heard of bankers catching an hour on their lunch break to scribble in the park. If you are a writer, you will steal minutes from your day to polish your craft and commit words to paper. However, it must be done every day, even if it’s one word, one line, or one paragraph at a time—the art of writing must be practiced.

Keeping the Juices Flowing

Finding fresh inspiration is never easy, but there are ways you can jump-start your imagination to keep the juices flowing:

  • Start by keeping a dream diary and writing in it as soon as you wake up. Before you grab a cup of coffee or let your dog out, take a few minutes to scribble down what you remember from your dreams. You will be amazed at the wealth of imagery trapped within dreams and it may also allow you a deeper look at your innermost thoughts.
  • Go to art galleries. When I am running dry on inspiration I simply pack my pen and paper and visit the art gallery. Walk around with your notebook in hand and write about the paintings. You can create whole stories or poems from a splash of color.
  • If you are stuck within the home and fighting to find a subject to write about, try freewriting. This is an exercise where you commit the pen to paper for at least ten minutes. All you do is write and never pause. Just keep going and don’t stop. If you find yourself coming loose and panicking then you can simply write I remember over and over, and take it from there. Keep coming back to I remember when you get stuck. This is a great exercise for ploughing through the mines of your memory and practicing your craft every day.

Make your notebook your treasure chest and use it to practice writing every day. A notebook is a writer’s best friend and you should always carry it with you. Use it for mindless scribbling, doodling, collecting things you find in the street and sticking in photographs you cut out of magazines. The notebook will come to reflect your inspiration and can be a spider’s web for collecting fragments of your imagination.

About the Author: Sylvia Nankivell is the owner of usedbooksearch.net, a free used and rare book price comparison search.

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Comments

8 Responses to “How to Practice Writing Every Day”

  1. opsimath says:

    I am quite sure this is excellent advice, but for all I have read about the craft of writing and for all the times I have determined to write something that isn’t completely rubbish I find myself with the same difficulty – the starkness of a blank page or an open text file. Then, I become a deer in headlights, unable to write, type or evn think; it is as though a huge cloud of nothingness is poised to descend on me whenever I try to write, whether that is in snatched moments or planned week-ends.

    I think we both have to accept the uncomfortable faxct that not everyone can be a writer, whatever their intentions, wishes or heartfelt desires. If banging your head continually against a wall brings you no relief from your anguish it is probably best to try something else.

    To all those who write, however badly, I can only doff my hat in appreciation and envy.

    opsimath

    • Lauren says:

      There is a wonderful little workbook called “Write Brain” that I have found exceedingly helpful to get started writing. Basically, every page has a writing prompt. You can write on the page itself, or in a notebook, but the point is that writing without purpose is practically impossible. Each prompt is a question, a hypothetical situation, etc, and you won’t pen a best-seller from each one, but it gets your mind warmed up and the juices flowing. There have been some days when I just write and it’s garbage, but sometimes I think of something that might make a good short story or I just really like what I’ve written. Anyway, it definitely takes away the intimidation of the blank page.

      • Thank you for the recommendation, Lauren. Years ago, I regularly used prompts and exercises when I was at a loss for what to write. Not only do they give you ideas, they also provide regular writing practice. It’s better to spend twenty minutes a day working on a prompt or exercise that you’ll never publish than to lament the lack of ideas. Eventually, ideas will start flowing. Creative thinking takes practice too!

    • Robyn LaRue says:

      One thing that never fails to get me writing (and then segue into whatever I’m working on) is a very simple prompt. “I remember…” One day it might let me down, but not so far. :)

      • I like the “I remember…” prompt. I think you’ve mentioned it before. It’s especially useful for nonfiction writers (journaling, memoir, and personal essays). Thanks, Robyn!

    • There are several techniques that you can use if the blank page is giving you trouble. I recommend starting with writing exercises. They will give you a framework and some direction. You can also use writing prompts, which give you a little nudge to start writing by providing a place to start. You can check the Writing Exercises and Writing Prompts categories here on Writing Forward to get started.

      I agree that not everyone can be a writer but I think that with determination and effort, anyone can be a writer.

  2. Bethie says:

    I love having a notebook for random ideas, inspirations, etc. My resolution this year will be to use the inspirations. I find myself making excuses for not writing and finding distractions, including reading posts about finding time to write! The time for excuses is over..at least for now. I was reading the comment by opsimath and I agree it can be hard, but to me the comment about not being able to write was well-written. I felt the writer’s angst! In other words, it sounds like opsimath could be a writer. Thanks for the encouragement, Sylvia. It makes me want to stop reading and start writing.

    • Distractions can be a problem. Self-discipline takes a lot of effort. I definitely wasn’t born with it but I cultivated it eventually. I try to write every single day, although I give myself breaks between large projects. I wish you the best of luck with your resolution, Bethie.