So it’s well into week 2 of my writing experiment and there is lots of writing getting done. I’m not convinced of the quality of all of that writing, but it is a starting point for development and rewriting.
I started with trying to quarantine a little bit of time each day and so far I’m getting hooked on it. If I get to the end of the day and I haven’t done any writing then I start to feel a bit niggly, I need a little fix of writing and once I’ve done it I feel better. I’m following the argument that, like any skill, writing can be developed and that investing time in it will lead to ongoing growth. I used to have this idea that writing was an innate talent and ‘good’ writers didn’t need to work at it – a view that contrasts with my belief of teaching and talking about the writing ‘process’ in my classes at school. I had this idea that the process – brainstorming, drafting, redrafting, editing – all that was fine for other people but surely I should be able to reel out a perfect first draft?
When I started running, I used to have to force myself out even when I wasn’t feeling like it. I’d strap on my sneakers, clip on my iPod and hit the road. Soon, running became a habit and if I hadn’t been out for a run, I’d be grumpy and irritable. At night, I dreamt of running and my legs scissored back and forth as muscle memory kicked in and I tried to run in my sleep (just like my dog!).
Maybe writing has been doing the same thing, but until recently, I haven’t really been listening to it. I think of all the nights I’ve woken up with half formulated thoughts, lines, arguments, and examples in my head. Most of the time I try to push them aside, willing sleep to overtake me as the ideas filter out into the darkness of night and are lost.
Now though I’m trying to grab hold of them when I can, to pin them down on the page and see where they take me. I talk about my ideas as if they have a life and force of their own and that I’m just trying to wrestle them into some coherent shape. I find myself returning to the same metaphors in my writing too, and I wonder if that is because I’m devoid of new ideas, or if it is because the other metaphors resonate so strongly for me?