Writing Practice

The important thing about writer's block is to get through it, whatever its cause or manifestation. The only way to do that is to write. Start with baby steps. Promise yourself to write for five minutes each day. Start now. Write about a pineapple. Write about your mother. Write about not writing. Just write.

I started writing stories before I could spell. I had a characater, an anthropomorphized mouse who lived in a cozy little house (no doubt inspired by E. B. White's Stuart Little). I made drawings of my mouse and wrote the text underneath the pictures. "How do you spell...?" I would call out to my mother from the dining room table. As I got older, I began to keep a journal and write poetry. For many years, well into my twenties, writing was a daily habit, a pleasure.

By the time I got to college, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Early college writing classes fueled my daily habit and honed it toward producing finished stories and poems. Then came graduate school. During my coursework for my masters' degree, I wrote numerous stories and the first draft of a novel. In some ways, I wrote more prolifically than ever before. And certainly my writing benefited from the insight and skill my professors and fellow students offered. But my relationship to writing shifted. I began to realize what it meant to choose writing as a career path.

As a child, I recognized the imaginative power writing gave me. I understood that writing was a medium of expression and self-understanding that gave me joy. Of course, I understood this intuitively, the way I understood that chocolate tastes good. The point is, as a child I did not think about writing as a means to an end or as a task. I just wrote.

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