Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing on Demand

My husband and I have been staying in a hotel for the past 5 days because our property is being fumigated for termites. To say this is a pain is putting it mildly. However, despite the huge disruption to my schedule, I’ve still managed to write. 

For this I thank author Dorothea Brande (born 1893-1948) and her timeless book called “Becoming a Writer.”

Her advice on scheduling your writing time no matter what, is worth repeating here: “After you have dressed in the morning, sit down for a moment by yourself to go over the day before you.  Usually you can tell accurately enough what its demands and opportunities will be; roughly, at least, you can sketch out for yourself enough of your program to know when you will have a few moments to yourself. It need not be a very long time; fifteen minutes will do nicely, and there is almost no wage slave so driven that he cannot snatch a quarter of an hour from a busy day if he is in earnest about it.  Decide for yourself when you will take that time for writing. Your agreement is a debt of honor and must be scrupulously discharged; you have given yourself your word and there is no retracting it. If to get the solitude that is necessary you must go into a washroom, go there, lean against the wall – and write. Write anything.  Do this from day to day and each time, choose a different hour. The idea is to be able to write on demand.” Dorothea Brande. 

Writing on demand is a discipline worth perfecting. These past 5 days I’ve written in a hotel lobby, a noisy Starbucks, in my car in the parking lot and yes, in the hotel washroom … the sofa was extremely comfortable. Are the pages I turned out excellent? Probably not but the important thing is to keep the creative process going every day. 

If you don’t already have Dorothea’s book, I highly recommend you hunt down a copy. It should live on your bookshelf forever.


Aline Templeton said...

Wonderful advice, and so true, Hannah.


Vicki Delany said...

I stopped reading at "After you have dressed in the morning" Actually it is good advice. I'd add, shut down the Internet.

Donis Casey said...

I must find this book. And I agree about the internet, Vicki