Practice Makes Perfect

So while ago I wrote about my non-existent writing schedule. I am proud to say it is no longer non-existent.

Initially when I started grad school I was writing only when I had deadlines. I think this is an issue with a lot MFA students. We are so bogged down with our literature classes and writing feedback for our classmates for workshop that we neglect our own work. I know that was my issue.

I’m currently enrolled in a three year program that requires both literature classes as well as workshops. The amount of literature  credits that I am required to take is three credits short of receiving an MA. It’s quite literature intensive, and because of the heavy focus on literature courses I knew I’d need a writing schedule that would enable me to write my own stuff.

If I continued to let my deadline system continue to be the only drive I had to write, all I’d have written is a crappy thesis I’d be embarrassed to revise, and way too many literature papers than I’d know what to do with. When would I produce anything else?

I was discussing this with my thesis chair. My professor suggested I write first thing in the morning, so that  “then it’s done.” I could move on with my day not worried about not having written anything because it would have been done as my first cup of coffee was being finished.

Since I didn’t have any kind of schedule I decided to give it a shot. I will say I was concerned writing in the morning was going to effect my workout routine. I enjoy running in the morning because it hasn’t gotten so hot yet and I can usually beat whatever weather issue my area may be having. In order to prevent any kind of interruption to my running regimen I set my alarm an hour earlier and decided I’d write for an hour first thing in the morning, then run, then shower and finish up the rest of my classwork.

Well, I will say it totally works for me.  I always thought that I was a nocturnal writer; that my best work flowed from my brain in the late hours of the night. Au Contraire! After a decent night of rest (who get’s good sleep anymore or ever, I know I sure don’t) I’m able to think clearly and focus. The best part of this writing in the morning thing is if that hour of writing sucks I get to run it out of my system and know I’ll be better the next morning or if I have a little bit of time to spare in the evening after class I can try again.

I’m so glad to have found my groove. I was hoping that would be something that I learned in grad school and it seems that after a year I have.

I know that not everyone is a morning person. I definitely am. Actually, I’m kind of an insomniac but I think I prefer the morning to night as far as being productive is concerned. Regardless of the kind of person you are, I think the trick to finding a writing schedule is to force yourself to set aside an allotted amount of time EVERYDAY.

Maybe you don’t have an hour to spare, then give yourself  twenty minutes. I know I waste twenty minutes here and there all day everyday, why not write during that time instead?

I’m sure when the fall starts or when I start my summer teaching I may have to cut my hour down to 45 minutes or even to half an hour, still I don’t plan on stopping my schedule all together because “I’m busy.” My thesis and my writing career are too important.  Plus, I think this is true with so many skills…Practice makes perfect.

This has become my mantra: Practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect and so I encourage all you writers out there to remember that when you are in a slump and can’t “find time to write” you won’t get any better unless you write. That poem, essay, story or novel won’t write itself.

Practice makes perfect.

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2 comments

  1. First thing in the morning sounds like a great suggestion. I’m not a morning person either, but a few extra hours early in the morning seem to be worth it. I had a literature intensive MFA program as well, along with tutoring jobs and TA’ships, so I felt like I had little time. Evenings were bad for me because I always felt intellectually and emotionally ruined every time I had to teach. I didn’t want to concentrate on anything after that. I still feel that way about teaching, though I’ve gotten better about it. Now, I just need to carve out some time in my post-MFA life to write.

    1. Thanks for the comment.
      I’m also nervous about my post-MFA life. I don’t know what time you have to be in the classroom but if it’s later that 8 I think you can definitely squeeze in at least half an hour before you’re in front of the kiddies. I totally agree with the challenge of writing after a day of work. I feel like I put in 110% into my day and by the end of it I need a beer and some Food Network. The idea of writing after a full day is not appealing. I will end with this: I write better in the morning. The quality of my work is significantly better. I just recently workshopped an installment of my novel that was written in the morning and the class had read a previous installment that I had written in the evening after working and teaching, the comments were unanimous. They all agreed the writing was better. That is enough of a reason to write in the morning.

      Good luck with your writing.

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