July 28, 2010

The Freedom of a Good Warm-Up

Posted in Warm-Up tagged , at 9:41 am by Rebecca Hein

Warming up is not just for musicians; it’s for writers too. A warm-up gently engages the brain as well as the muscles, and loosening our approach by starting “slow-and-easy” is proven to work.

There are compelling reasons not to leap headlong into our day’s writing, most notably that we all seem to have excess energy and attention that must be discharged before we can really focus. In the days before I began each writing session with a 10-15 minute warm-up, I almost always ended up struggling through that time with little useable copy to show for it, anyway. But those first few minutes, rightly spent, can become surprisingly productive.

Next: What is a warm-up?

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July 21, 2010

Varieties of Practicing–Part Four: Adventure in Writing

Posted in Practice Writing tagged , , at 9:48 am by Rebecca Hein

Wild experiments in my cello teaching, where I encouraged my students to daydream in the midst of their practicing, inspired me to similar activity in writing. I learned not to plan my writing sessions, but instead to attune myself to the direction in which a given piece was pulling me.

This is easier than you think: if you feel a tussle while writing—that unmistakable conflict between what you planned to write and the intractability of your efforts—the best strategy is to let go. In this release you’ll find a new openness, and this in turn will set your work free.

Next: The freedom of a good warm-up

July 14, 2010

Varieties of Practicing–Part Three: Adventure

Posted in Practice Writing tagged , , , , at 9:29 am by Rebecca Hein

Why must productivity be linear? Why do we think we’re wasting time if we can’t see immediate results from our thinking?

These questions occurred to me after I discovered right-brain thought, which is induced by daydreaming. In the summer of 2002, I told my cello students to let their minds wander while they were practicing and also while they were playing for me in lessons.

This experiment produced measurable progress in their playing and, since we couldn’t predict the direction their minds would travel while in right-brain mode, we all felt a new sense of adventure.

Next: Adventure in writing

July 7, 2010

Varieties of Practicing–Part Two: Experiments

Posted in Practice Writing tagged , , , at 9:12 am by Rebecca Hein

“If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else.” Why did it take me several decades to realize this?

In Part One of this series, Slog, I discussed my linear practice method in which no new skill is introduced until the current one is mastered. But creativity isn’t like that. Art-in-process is disorderly, so why shouldn’t our daily efforts reflect this?

Our culture has trained us for productivity, and that was my trap. But when I discovered how useful it was to my cello playing and writing to try new ideas, my work began to turn around.

Next: Adventures