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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"I Practice Writing"

Say it Out Loud

“I Practice Writing”. Go ahead. Say it.

I practice writing.

Is it difficult for you to say? How does it feel on your tongue? How does it sound rolling around in your head?

I practice writing.

It’s the word practice, isn’t it. Somehow, to say “I practice writing” sounds like a wanna-be looser. It conjures up all sorts of sarcasm and ridicule. It connotes a hope, a dream, a desire to be something not yet attained.

And yet, this is precisely what I do: I practice writing. Once I get past that wanna-be connotation and throw it out a wide-open window in my mind, I can tell you that I like the truth in that statement. Yes, I like it because you can’t be a writer unless you practice your craft.

Think on this a minute: the two most prestigious professions in our culture use this term, “practice”: medicine and law. They refer to their work as a practice. When we say, she practices law, there is no connotation of a wanna be. We say he has his own private practice and we are impressed, swelling with admiration and respect.

So what is it with the writing profession? People just think that somehow you become a writer; they do not consider the daily practice that put your name on a collection of work. If you write, you are a writer. And you are only a writer if you practice writing.

Lawyers work with clients; doctors work with patients, and writers work with an audience. Unlike lawyers and doctors whose clients and patients are real living bodies in front of them, writers work with an added element of the unknown – we have to do a little more guess work about what ales our audience and what they want. In essence, we practice alone. The pay off however, is that we have full liberty of creative expression and very few rules to bind us up.

Uh – oh, I feel the surge of passion beginning to pulsate in my blood. I feel the urge to go off in a tangent about the thrills of being a writer… but I really just want to stay on track here and discuss this idea of practicing writing.

Deep breath. Back on track. OK.

Writers need to understand this concept and promote it proudly in our culture. You see, everything we do is a process, a progression, a constant and steady evolution of change and growth. My writing has evolved over the years; I continue to gain new skills and discover new ideas. This all happens of course, because I practice writing.

So now I say it out loud when people ask me, “What do you do?” I say to them, “I practice writing.” Then I giggle in my head because it still sounds funny to me, but my facial expression is truly serious. So to you, my fellow writers, I want to say to you, be proud of your practice. Your writing practice is significant… oh, so very significant, in ways beyond your own understanding. Accept that as true and get on with your writing. Tell people you are a writer – go ahead, say it out loud. And then say, “I practice writing.”

OK writers, let’s get on with our practice!!


  1. I like this! This is the answer I can give when someone questions why I go to writing groups or why I write morning pages even though these activities aren't making me money. I am practicing writing, and because I practice writing, I do these things. Thank you, River!

  2. Amen, sister! Say it out loud! And keep on writing, and writing, and writing! You are a beautiful woman and a beautiful writer!!

  3. this is a great mantra. i practise writing!

    stopping over from Soul Aperture. one love.

  4. I found my way to you via Soul Aperture. I love how many of us are roaming the blogroads stopping to say hello here and there. So, hello to you. Happy almost-Friday.