Monday, June 22, 2009


(painting by Daniel Schwartz)

There are times, I spring from bed, excited to meet up with the page. Those mornings I want to shout to the rising sun, "Hello, world! Life is grand because I'm a writer."

But some days I have to dig for that place inside me where discipline lies, the discipline that I had to develop early on as a writer. Sometimes the simple act of picking up a pen gets me there quickly, but after being on the road or finishing a project, I have to search deep. Thank goodness for apprenticeships.

Recently I mentioned that I'd been writing for fifteen years. Please don't ask me what the first story was about. I don't remember. I quickly abandoned it once I started writing the story I was meant to write. What I do remember very clearly is learning to sit.

Sitting is so much a part of writing and we forget that. Maybe other writers began in a fever, sitting for hours while words dropped on the page. Not me. I had to build up the stamina. I had to learn to sit. Let me confess to you, I started with fifteen minutes. I had wanted to be a writer for so many years, but the mere act of sitting still and writing was overwhelming. My first session I listened from the screen porch for the beep of the stove timer to inform that it was okay to stop. The next day, I sat for thirty minutes. That's how it went for awhile--me sitting for daily sessions that increased by fifteen minutes each day, rewarding myself at the end by driving to the closest Pac-a-Sac and treating myself to a fountain Diet Coke.

Those early days of practicing my craft proved that a writer can reap benefits even by writing the wrong story. Because one day I discovered I was not listening for the timer's beep. Like a child who'd learned to ride a bike without training wheels, I stopped setting the timer. I had learned to sit.


  1. Great post. Sitting still and showing up on the page is half the battle.

  2. Dear Jama,

    So right. Seems I'm always having to relearn this lesson.