What is writing practice?

In the past three weeks, I’ve been been talking a lot about writing practice. It makes sense, though I have been trying to stop telling so much. Because part of what makes it so challenging to talk about is the practice quality of it. The structure is the same, but the practice itself? It is never the same.

When talking with a participant after one of the Guinea Pig Sessions, I made the comment that, once classes start and participants will more than likely only be taking a single class a week, I’ll be using the same prompt multiple times during the week. (This has not been the case for the Guinea Pig Sessions.) And yet, from my own experience, I know I come to the prompt differently each time I sit with it.

So what is writing practice? I think Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down the Bones, starts the conversation well.

When I teach a class, I want the students to be “writing down the bones,” the essential, awake speech of their minds. But I also know I can’t just say, “Okay, write clearly and with great honesty.” In class we try different techniques or methods. Eventually, the students hit the mark, come home to what they need to say and how they need to say it. But it is rarely, “Okay, in the third class we have covered this and this, you will write well.”

Note: I highly recommend this book. It’s kind of a foundation book for many practicers. She also gives prompts and great stories to work toward writing own to your bones.

That’s why I say this practice isn’t for “writers.” Rather, writing is the medium we come back to in order to stay grounded. The scritch of the pen, the turn of the page, the feel of the paper under our fingertips. Writing practice gives us tools to look, to see, to stay with what’s right there in front of us.


Interested in learning more? There’s no better way to learn than by doing.

There are still open spots in the Guinea Pig Sessions – FREE single classes to write with me! See the Sticky Post to see what currently has open registration.


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