The writing on red Ravine evolved from our practice. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to write, you have to practice.
Simple. Yet, not easy.
Natalie created Writing Practice rules based on years of her own practice. Each of us has taken those rules and used them to make the practice our own. We are profoundly grateful for what Natalie has handed down to us through her books and teachings.
You are encouraged to join us in the practice of writing. Grab one of our Writing Topics. Take a word or phrase that holds juice for you. Read our Writing Practices. Give us Recall. Practice creates structure and grounds your writing.
How Writing Practice Works
Pick up your favorite pen. It should be a fast-writing pen. Grab a spiral notebook. Nothing fancy. Or, if you prefer, use your keyboard.
Select a Writing Topic. Set a time limit. Ten minutes works well to begin. We’ve noticed we tend to go deeper with our writing when we write even longer.
The timed aspect of writing is important. Whatever amount of time you choose, you must commit yourself to it for the full time. Set an intention - 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour. Then, Go!
Follow these six rules as you write:
- Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you have just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying. Don’t stop until the time is up.)
- Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it. Don’t backspace.)
- Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)
- Lose control.
- Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
- Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)
We have followed these six rules for many years. The rules give us structure. And within creative structure there is freedom. There is strength and power in writing this way. The structure of Writing Practice allows the rest of your mind to be wild and quells the self-editor, Monkey Mind, who breeds doubt and caution.
Writing practices are raw, wild, and free flowing. The aim is to burn through to first thoughts. There is no good or bad with Writing Practice. It is what it is. Most importantly, Writing Practice keeps us in the practice of writing. It serves as the most basic approach to any writing we do, including finished pieces.
Natalie gave us Writing Practice. We created red Ravine. With red Ravine we continue writing as a practice by combining writing, technology, and community that spans great distances. We write across 3000 miles and four time zones. We use computers, spiral notebooks, favorite pens. We write at home, in the forest, in waiting rooms, and coffee shops.
We do spell checks but we don’t change what came out in the raw practice. Dubious grammar, odd dangling participles, and leading dependent clauses do not get edited out in our Writing Practice. (Finished pieces are another matter.)
There is Writing Practice and There Are Finished Pieces
We do both Writing Practice and finished pieces on red Ravine. How do you tell the difference?
When one of us does a Writing Practice, we use the term PRACTICE and specify the number of minutes in the title. We also add the post to the category Writing Practices. These posts can appear in an ad hoc manner with no rhyme or reason as far as topic or timing. Often if one person does Writing Practice on a random Topic – say, Pickles – the other will follow suit. But not always.
In addition, once a week sloWalker posts a WRITING TOPIC. All of these Topics can be found in the category, Writing Topics (or click on sloWalker under Contributors on the sidebar).
Before the week is up, each of us sits down and writes a Writing Practice on the Topic. We add our PRACTICES on a WRITING TOPIC to two categories: Topic Writing and Writing Practices. Sometimes Writing Practices develop into finished pieces, and what you see in a regular blog post will be an edited and polished version of what was once a raw PRACTICE.
And just to confuse matters even more, we also post something that isn’t quite PRACTICE and isn’t a WRITING TOPIC either. These are simply posts, the kind you might find on any blog. Writer tidbits. Quotes. Musings. Oh, and we mix in photos and doodles and drawings just to make it that much more interesting.
And Then There is Recall
When we do Writing Practices together in person, we read our pieces aloud to the group. Those who aren’t reading, listen deeply. When the reading is over, the listeners do “Recall,” repeating to the writer any words, phrases, or sentences that penetrated beyond the eardrums and stuck in our brains.
We don’t say whether we liked what we heard or why we caught those words. We simply recall what we remember, as closely as possible to the writer’s original words or phrases.
You might see Recall on red Ravine. It usually appears as RECALL in a Comment and added to the category Recall. We write out the lines and words that grabbed us when we read. No commentary, no criticism. Just those morsels that bit a hole somewhere in our psyche.
Burning Through, writing notebook found on the Mesa, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
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