I meet and work with a lot of women who yearn to write but don’t quite know how to begin. It’s one thing to take classes and workshops, and it’s completely another thing to develop your own writing practice. So I asked Dr. Saundra Goldman, a writer and writing teacher I greatly admire, for some advice.
Saundra will be leading “Build a Writing Practice,” a day-long retreat sponsored by the Writers’ League of Texas, on April 25 at Casa de Luz, Austin. She brings years of experience in writing practice, including intensive study with writing guru Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones.
First off, I asked Saundra how she defines writing practice.
“Writing can be a practice the way meditation and yoga are practices,” she says. “It is part of your daily rounds, something you do whether you feel like it our not, without expectation or judgment. And then there is writing practice as developed by Natalie Goldberg, in which you set a timer and keep your hand moving until the practice period is over.”
I’ve been doing morning pages–a three-page “brain drain” practice that Julia Cameron made popular in her book The Artist’s Way–for more than a decade. It’s an essential component of my clarity process. If I miss a day or two, I’m soon feeling out of sorts.
Goldberg’s timed writing practice requires you to keep your hand moving. “This way you can bypass your inner editor to contact first thoughts,” Saundra says. “Those ‘aha’ moments in your writing, little epiphanies and insights that arise when you manage to get out of your own way, are moments of clarity.”
If you want to begin your own writing practice, here are Saundra’s top three tips:
1. Keep it simple. Twenty minutes, three times a week, is a good place to start. Or even ten minutes, if that’s all you have. Make it manageable.
2. Create accountability. Find a writing buddy you can check in with regularly. Set intentions together and then check back to report your progress.
3. Practice compassion. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Treat yourself with great patience and kindness.
(You can register online for Saundra’s “Build a Writing Practice” retreat.)