June 25, 2013

Why Practice? Part Three

Posted in freewriting, Practice Writing, writing techniques tagged , , , at 1:27 pm by Rebecca Hein

Ease of execution; smooth flow; producing a great first draft—these skills are possible with practice. Not the “practice” of polishing a piece for publication or of working through a series of early drafts, but practice writing.

Put words on paper, or type them. The content is irrelevant because your state of mind is the key. You have to know the intrinsic value of basic writing, without regard to quality, form, or content.

No musician would ever deny the need for practice, and writers shouldn’t either. What seems to be throwaway time—so tempting to skip so we can get on to our real work—is the foundation of our craft.

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June 14, 2013

Why Practice? Part Two

Posted in freewriting, Practice Writing, writing techniques tagged , , , , at 4:26 pm by Rebecca Hein

In all my years of playing concerts, recitals, and even wedding receptions, my most memorable encounters with the audience have occurred after the performance.

“I wish I had your talent,” someone always sighs while shaking my hand. “I don’t know how you make it look so easy.”

I do. Years and years of persistent work. Yet in the minds of these wistful people, there was no mechanism. There was no daily battle to play better in tune, to feel the sway of the beat, or to achieve beautiful tone. Instead, there was a vague idea: “talent.”

The mechanics of practice are the most important component of your writing. That means daily writing, for practice only. Not for brilliance, not to polish a draft, just to put words on paper.

You want to dazzle readers, and especially editors and agents, with the mastery of your craft. So don’t handicap yourself by neglecting practice. If you do, it’ll take you just that much longer to reach your goals.

May 18, 2013

Why Practice? Part One

Posted in freewriting, Practice Writing, writing techniques tagged , , , , at 2:06 pm by Rebecca Hein

Is there a difference between freewriting and writing purely for practice? The former is something writers are exhorted to do, and the latter less frequently mentioned.

In freewriting you’re supposed to write whatever enters your head without editing or criticizing. Usually it’s for a set time. But why do it?

This question takes on meaning when we transfer the spirit of freewriting into the realm of practice writing. Why practice?

A simple question, with what should be an obvious answer, yet in several decades of cello playing, I’ve discovered that practicing is a vague concept in the minds of many people; without significance or value. If you’re a writer, and have this concept, it can be detrimental to your work.

August 29, 2012

Slumps, Part Two

Posted in slumps in writing tagged , , at 2:40 pm by Rebecca Hein

If we could set up our writing lives for regular practice and performance, as musicians do, our slumps might have less power to stop us. Habits that engage us with our own skill or with readers can tide us through difficult times, making the difference between advancing slowly and stopping.

Practicing is one of the most valuable activities of all, precisely because it keeps us going. Expecting nothing except to produce words—any words—we can still write. Even if we’ve lost all sense of direction, or our confidence has dwindled to nothing, if we continue to practice, we at least set ourselves up for a return of motivation and the desire to go on.

June 27, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part Four

Posted in Peak Experiences, Practice Writing tagged , at 2:12 am by Rebecca Hein

How do you induce a state of mind where you write your best? The answer lies in your subconscious, which responds beautifully to “down time” and indirect work.

This is why practice writing is so valuable. It releases you from conscious effort to write well. In practice writing, you’re generating words with no purpose other than flow. Your brain doesn’t have to work at all, yet you’re still writing.

This dichotomy, in which you’re doing two semi-related things at once, will help you practice the similar paradox of wanting to write your best while not grabbing for it.

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