Sometimes, I don’t know what I think until I write it. In writing, I think, and, unlike in speaking, I am granted the time to find precisely the words to express my thoughts.
I love the intuitive process of writing fiction, of following hunches and noticing obscure thoughts surface, given the space and attention, thoughts that, if heeded, connect the dots in a more allegorical way than I might have imagined had I not entered the dreamlike space of writing. I love the adventure of writing, the unexplored places you may travel, the roaming nature of it all — all inside your head.
I wonder, does one create the story or is one simply a channel through which the story must be told? And do we concoct our stories each from our private pool of inspiration; or is there a communal well of ideas — a universal consciousness, if you will — from which writers draw their story when that story is ready to be formed? These are likely rhetorical questions that have been asked many times before.
Regardless, one of the many joys of writing is the surprise of what appears on the page. Oftentimes, the story takes twists and turns, and wanders down pathways off paths that were not mapped or visible at the beginning of the journey.
This is why, for me as a writer, a writing practice is a must. If I were to wait to know the details of a story before sitting down to write it, I’d be waiting a long time. I may show up at my desk with the nub of an idea, but through the very act of writing, the story becomes known. The writing becomes the story.
As much as I love the process of writing, it is easy to let the practice slip. There are unavoidable things to do every day: meals to cook, money to earn, places to go and people to please. But, for a writer, it is important to set aside time to, well, write. As some wit said, the story won’t write itself. (Although, given our earlier train of thought, perhaps it will, albeit through another writer who is prepared to put pen to page.)
To write, I require a reasonable amount of quiet and calm to focus. I know other writers who choose to write in cafes, but if I am continually interrupted with chatter or disruptive noise, I am unlikely to write anything of worth, or anything at all. If I am in a noisy environment, it is doubtful I’ll hear the voices of the thoughts that speak softly. It doesn’t necessarily mean complete silence. In fact, I’ve found certain types of music help facilitate the writing process.
Finding time to write may mean shutting yourself away, getting up early or staying up late, or simply agreeing with those around you on a period of quiet. That elusive peace is why writers love writers’ retreats — that and the opportunity to concentrate wholly on their writing. But, for the most part, writers cannot wait to attend a once-in-while retreat to spend quality time writing. Ideally, a writing practice must become a part of everyday life to enable a writer to write to their potential.
I am writing this to remind myself, as much as to encourage others, to commit to the discipline of writing. It is through this discipline, this practice, one really begins to write. I must practise my practice.