Saturday, October 20, 2007

Writing My Book

I heard a little piece of a radio interview today with some smug author (didn't catch his name). He said that one can write a book if one sits down and writes 2000 words a day (and then parties the rest of the day - his notion of partying was not mine, so I won't repeat it here). Then after six weeks, you have a book. Sounds like a recipe, not a creative process, but with me dispersing my energies in every direction, it might be a good idea to establish some sort of minimum output per day. I've been using the metaphor of squeezing a tube of toothpaste that is full of holes, in response to questions about "how's the book going?"

So here's my recipe. Turn off the web browser and email program. Sit somewhere quiet with soothing music with no lyrics (Miles Davis, Coltrane, Holdsworth, all work well for me). Get the right posture so you don't strain your neck or arms. Start writing and let the muse speak through you. Pretend you are talking to an audience and that they are in the room with you. Or just write like you are writing in your journal. Don't get caught in large abstractions without telling the stories behind them. Let it flow until it your body tells you it needs to stretch. Take breaks on your yoga mat, go for a walk, put on salsa music and dance, or do something non-verbal, like playing with clay or paint. Drink lots of water. And then go back to your chair, and return to the process again and again. Read and answer email at night.

Don't edit until you've written the first draft.

Of course, there is the struggle with family and domestic needs, but do your best to schedule things so that you have solid hours in the writing chair.

My book, Outside the Frame: Teaching Art for Social Change, is working its way to the surface. New Village Press will publish it next year. I may not be writing much for this blog for a couple of months, but I'll be back with lots to say, I'm sure.


Lynne said...

Dear Beverly,

What a joy to happen on your blog this morning. Your suggestions on how to get your book written are excellent. I'll be sure to use them myself when it is time to edit! Training one's family how to survive on a diet of toothpaste spagetti may be the bigger challenge!

New Village Press

PS. I'll send you a copy of our new title: Undoing the Silence: Six Tools for Social Change Writing by Louise Dunlap, with the caveat that, like consulting parenting books with a first baby, your own intuition is still the very best guide.

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