18 October, 2014

How do you write best?

A question for my fellow bloggers, writers, and readers who are writers in their heads…

Today I thought I would get a lot of writing done. My cousin's daughters (aged 10 and 13) are spending the night and so I imagined I'd have a ton of free time while they played with my son.

Which they totally did, and so I totally did, and yet I did not write. I did recently buy a baby grand piano, which I adore, so I spent quite a bit of time playing.

It was not a total loss of an artistic/expressive day, but it was not a creative day.

The drafts folder for this blog currently contains notes and first paragraphs on an eclectic array of topics: the problem of minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone (a bit of a personal perspective, since my maternal grandfather emigrated alone at age 13); the relationship between passion, creativity, insecurity and guilt; something entitled "A hunger for learning" that doesn't quite have a point yet; a future Christmas post on the best unexpected gifts I've received and worst gifts I've ever given; yet another poem on grief; and the other half of the "American girl in Europe" post I wrote back in the spring (though I'm not sure it really warrants finishing).

My computer desktop contains drafts of scholarly papers in various states of revision: one on social media and physicians, another on the growing practice of parents being able to choose whether or not to stay with their children during invasive procedures, like induction of anesthesia or emergency resuscitation, and a third on chickenpox in pediatric cancer patients in Central America.

(Admittedly, when I hoped for a creative day, I wasn't necessarily thinking of revising data tables.)

And finally, there are the two novels for which I write new scenes in my head as I drive back and forth to work two hours each day.

Particularly with the latter, I struggle with this question:

At what point should I force myself to start typing?

When is giving free range to my imagination and my inner voice helpful, and when do I need to commit words to paper?

Should I wait until the urge - the real need to write - strikes, or should I build discipline and skill by writing every day, with or without the urge?

Is there an ideal "window" in which to write?

If I write too soon, especially with fiction, do I risk closing doors in the world I'm building? 

If I write too late, do I risk losing momentum or simply never overcoming my own inertia?

I also wonder:

When do you decide to write something that feels "risky"? 

How do you decide when to put yourself on the line for the sake of pushing your boundaries as a writer?


What do you do in your own practice?

I know there isn't a "right" answer, but I'm curious to hear some other perspectives!

This was the avatar for my very first (and now defunct) blog, 10 years ago.