“Don’t Gotta Work It Out”

A few days ago, Michelle passed on this great list of famous writers’ writing habits, including Ray Bradbury, Susan Sontag, Kurt Vonnegut, and Anais Nin.

I’m still learning my own habits, so I’m hardly in any position to offer advice, but here’s some of the best advice I’ve gotten:

  • Write every day.  This is hard but this was my New Year’s resolution to myself and I’ve kept it up for almost a year (33 days to go!).  It’s often not for nearly as long as I’d like to be able to write, but it’s always something.
  • Read work aloud.  Words are sounds and I’m galled sometimes by how many people don’t recognize this.  Reading aloud not only helps me catch errors and awkwardness, but keeps me thinking about the musicality of prose.  Also, it’s good practice.
  • Learn how to be “alone in a room.”  I have to have the courage to sit down and face my work, to stick it out and actual finish stuff, and that requires not a literal kind of isolation but a purposeful and single-minded focus of intent.  I often fail at this.
  • Leave something for tomorrow.  I try not to end the day’s writing having written myself into a corner; I try to make sure there’s room to continue and something to look forward to — maybe not a treat, necessarily, but somewhere, anywhere to go.

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