As a poet, I spend a lot of time immersed in issues of rhythm as I try to get a series of lines to flow together in just the right way. The notion of rhythm also applies to my writing in a broader sense in that I am always trying to establish a rhythm for the act of writing as well as within my writing.
For me, writing is a process that is sometimes ridiculously easy, sometimes painfully difficult. Starting is generally the hardest part. Once I get going, the words usually begin to flow naturally as I find myself totally immersed in the process, my mind and fingers operating together in a kind of writing rhythm I can’t truly explain. That’s not to say the work is perfect; almost always I will have to go back and fix certain rough patches. But once I get into my writing rhythm, the process usually flows pretty smoothly.
To get into that rhythm, I also have to focus on establishing my writing routine. Like most people, I find I have times of day that are more productive than others. I’m finishing this blog post at 7:45 a.m., the quiet time after Debbie has gone to work and John has gone to school before I start focusing on what “has to be done” during the day. It’s a great time to focus on creative or “fun” projects such as a poem or this blog post.
Beyond that, I try to block out chunks of time to focus on various projects throughout the day. I try never to work on any one piece for more than two hours at a time. For me, that’s enough time to get into a rhythm for accomplishing a task but not so long that I lose interest or focus.
For years when I worked at a day job, I got into the routine of focusing on my creative writing in the evening. Even now that I am a freelancer and can write whenever I choose, I still find that my creative muse often operates best after dinner. After months of trying to wrestle it into a new daytime pattern, I have given in and simply planned to do some of my creative work at night. After all, just because I can write during the day now doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t still write in the evening as well.
And that is my advice to young or aspiring writers—seek the time when your mind is most alert and most creative and use that time to do your most creative work. When you establish a routine to capitalize on the rhythm of your writing, the words will flow.
Random Writing Thought of the Week: Actually, this is more of a postscript. Deadlines are another, although certainly less pleasant, way to create a rhythm. When deadlines loom, I simply apply my bottom to the chair and stay there until the task is finished. My rhythm may not be as smooth, but desperation has a way of breaking the logjam of words.