Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trying Out Something Sacred

A few weeks ago I went to the AWP Conference in Denver and attended a session all about the "Sacred" art of writing. I wasn't quite sure what to expect--something spiritual or religious, maybe involving yoga? What I found was a panel of writers who simply talked about their writing practice--when and where they get it done.

So I looked up the word sacred, and in addition to those religious connotations that I always associated with the word, it also simply means "devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose)." Not quite as glamorous, perhaps, but distinctly more functional.

I decided, of course, that I needed a Sacred Practice and I needed it right away. I had an assortment of multicolumn lists and priorities for finishing projects that pay the bills, and big dreams of finding a cool planner on sale since the year is almost half over only to find that they actually make 18-month ones that start in July so I'm actually a month early and everything is still full price.... sigh*

Amidst all this impending chaos I wanted to set something straight--I could not lose sight of the one thing that I really want to be doing, which is writing my stories, whether those take the form of short stories, novels, or essays. And I believe it was Mark Twain who said 'write for free until someone pays you to write.' I'm definitely still in that writing for free stage, but without the practice I'm not likely to make it to the point where someone wants to pay me to do it.

Thus, my very own sacred practice is born--2.5 hours that at the moment I'm setting aside in the mornings. It could just as effectively be done at night, or even in the middle of the day, I suppose, but at the moment it works best to start the day with it. I begin with a half-hour of free writing, by hand, in a journal. I use a timer for each section (recall Jenny Sundstedt's recent post), which allows me to just keep writing without feeling any need to check the clock. I follow that with one hour of writing and/or revising my stories. And the hour after that is devoted to blogging--writing my own and reading others'.

The rest of my schedule can change day to day depending on what other work I need to do, but I think all of that will fall into place as long as I keep my sacred time sacred. It may not pertain to anyone's religion, but I can definitely see it as a spiritual practice--checking in daily with my muses as well as my attitude.

What does your sacred practice look like?

6 comments:

bfav said...

My time is a two-parter: the first hour starts with the blogs at 8a. That's why I'm commenting now. Then my sacred writing time falls at 8p, once my kids are in bed.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm a binge writer who works best in the afternoon, so my sacred time doesn't involve anything except breakfast, coffee, and the newspaper. I envy those who are disciplined enough to write every day, especially those who write first thing in the morning.

Jenny S. said...

This post really struck a chord with me, because it made me realize that I don't think of my writing time as sacred. I am going to start setting better boundaries, with myself and everyone else.

Morning (6 a.m. if I can swing it) is my favorite time to write. If I write at night, I can't turn my brain off and go to sleep.

Thanks, Jennifer, for the great post.

Lisa_Gibson said...

I'm generally writing later at night. I love it when you can just go on cruise control and write without really worrying about time, or issues with your writing, just throwing it all out there.

Amy Kathleen Ryan said...

I like to write in the morning. Helps the rest of the day feel right.

Linda L. Henk said...

With gardening season in the great state of Colorado, I spend morning in the sacred out of doors. Afternoon clouds take me inside to write. I'm just this week putting writing ahead of blogging. I have 1000 words a day as a goal. What I don't have in place is time for revision and study of other writers. Thanks for an inspiring post.

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