Thursday, 20 January 2011

438 Words on Habit Forming

Dear Reader Of This Blog (or mom),

I started here with the best of intentions. You can find them here. Looking at the date of the last post you can see how well that’s worked out for me.

Last night I went to hear John Patrick Shanley speak. I’ve heard him before. Here’s who he is, in case you don’t know. Whereas the first time I heard him speak was mythic and inspiring, last night was…mechanical. The audience was different, and so his answers were different. He talked more about the process, the business of art. And he talked about discipline.

Read his bio. It’s original, funny, outrageous and 100% true. Last night he picked up where his bio left off. He talked about what the Marine Corps did for him. Before the marines he got kicked out of every school he attended. After the marines he graduated valedictorian of his class at NYU.

He talked about his writing habit. I admire a lot of writers. They all have different processes. Different mediums. But they all share one thing in common. They have a writing habit. Stephen King sits down in the morning and doesn’t allow himself to leave his desk until he’s written 5000 words. Don Miller is committed to a new blog post every day. Damon Lindelof said the first million words he wrote were crap, but that he had to write them to get to the good words. John Shanley came out of the Marine Corps and set his alarm for 5 every morning. He would get up and sit at the typewriter for three hours. He said, “I didn’t have to write anything, but it was inevitably the quickest way to make the three hours pass.” Then he’d go for a three mile run. Then he’d start his day.

We make time for what’s important to us. Lately I’ve made time for Shannon’s burgeoning acting career, which is important. I’ve made time for exercise, which is also important. But I haven’t made any time for writing. I’ve instead allowed a lot of non-important things to creep in. I become terribly interested in them, but they aren’t important.

I paged through my blog and discovered a lot of writing I’m proud of, and a lot not so much. But I also saw that I rarely kept to my 500 word limit. I remember at the time saying “the idea is more important than the word count.” I believe that’s true, but I also didn’t stick to the premise, which is important.

So I’m going to take another whack at it. 500 or less. Every day.

1 comment:

Erin said...

I'm here! I'm excited!