or why it is easier for me than writing music.
For a musician I sure have a lot of books on writing. I own exactly 1 book on songwriting. I own (gets up and counts) about half a dozen books on writing.
But when asked I’d never say that I’m a writer. “I’m a musician.”, I’d say, adding in my mind, “But not a good one.”
So I thought about why writing is easy for me. (And yes, you might ask me again after NaNoWriMo). In preparation for next month I’m re-reading “Writing down the Bones”. Natalie Goldberg wrote:
“This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It’ll never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train our mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.”
“We get better because we do it every day”. Yeah, that’s it.
For years I have been writing without realizing it. I started keeping journals at age 9. As a teenager I wrote lots of letters, some bad poems, and I loved writing assignments in school. When we had to write a poem as homework, I wrote two.
Then I wrote my master’s thesis. I wrote in the mornings. Every day I’d sit down at my computer in my pajama – to catch myself unaware before procrastination could set in – and start warming up by writing diary entries on the computer. Though I didn’t like writing the thesis very much, I realized how much I loved writing.
At that time I bought my first book about writing. I still have a file with an idea for a screenplay. (I just wonder if that would make a novel for November. Hm.) And before finishing school I applied to drama studies, where I had to write something. As far as I recall, I wrote down the idea for a play.
But I never did something with this stuff. There are only beginnings in my files. And stories in my head. (I recently thought, if only I had a way of syphoning my thoughts into a computer… There are stories and stories and songs in there. I tell and sing them to myself all the time. High level daydreaming.) When I finished my master’s degree one reason for going for Ph.D. was the chance to go on writing as intense again.
Then, seven years ago (and almost to the day) I read the “Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron and started writing morning pages. That’s three pages a day written by hand about anything that crosses your mind. Let’s see, 7 years times 360 days times 3 pages … that’s 7,560 pages that I have written. And I do it every day, whether I feel like it or not.
My computer holds a file with beginnings and ideas. And then I started the blog about six months ago. More writing. (And you know that I’m not in for the one-sentence-post). I’ve never written fiction, though, that will be new in the month to come. But I don’t suffer from lack of imagination, that’s for sure.
So maybe it’s time to call myself a writer too. And to start a practice of writing music like I already have established a practice of writing stories without noticing it.