YOU HAVE BUCKED the temptation to stay in bed a few more minutes. You’ve put some words, maybe a lot of words, on a page or a screen, and you even kind of like some of them. You woke up the next morning and did it again.
Guess what? You’re a writer.
“If you are writing in the morning and harnessing the unconscious every day, you will become a writer.” This from Dorothea Brande, a writer and writing teacher who, in 1934, published Becoming a Writer. The book explores the mind’s connection to creativity, and how we as humans simply need to arrange a date between the two.
In my post Good Habits Make Good Writers Part 1: Rise and Write, I explained Brande’s first prescription to divine writing creativity: wake up, then write. Every day.
If you’ve given the program a go and you’re seeing results,which Brande guarantees, soon you’ll be able to push on every morning. Another paragraph, another page, and so on. Eventually, she says, you should be able to double your morning output. And it’s at about this time that writing becomes less a chore and more like something that just happens, like breathing.
Brande’s next step toward being able to write at any time, is to write at pre-arranged times without excuses. Here’s how:
- Decide when you will have time in the day to write, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Follow through. If you have chosen 3:45 p.m., at that time you will sit down to write and do nothing else until 4 p.m.
- Honour this commitment. Give up whatever else could interrupt you and excuse yourself to write at the time you said you would, no excuses. Write anything at all.
- Repeat this day to day at a different time, for different time periods, if possible. There is a deep inner resistance to writing, more so than in the previous exercise. This will begin to “look like business” to the unconscious, and the unconscious does not like these rules and regulations until it is well broken into them. If you break out of the circle (why not write at 3:50 to 4:05 p.m. instead?) you are likely to be cross-questioned. You must learn to disregard every loophole the wily unconscious points out to you. If you refuse to be beguiled, the unconscious will suddenly give in charmingly, and begin to write gracefully and well.
(—Notes from Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande, Penguin Putnam Inc., New York. Reprint of the 1934 edition published by Harcourt)
What were some of the interruptions that were really hard to ignore for you? Which times of the day were more difficult and which were easier?