Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Discipline of Writing

There are two ways for me to see how much progress I've made on a writing project over a day - I can either count words or spoons. Yesterday I wrote 8 spoons worth! It seems that each time I go down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, I take a new spoon up to the study with me. I stir in my sugar and the absently set the spoon aside. Repeat from 9 am until midnight with occasional breaks. Final yield - 8 spoons. (For the record, not all of the tea had caffeine.)

For the last two weeks I've been writing steadily - including a number of short pieces for various audiences. I've begun to realize that writing for me is more than just producing words. Thomas Merton is often quoted as saying "to write is to pray" though I can't find the source, and this captures much of what happens when I write. Writing for me, chemistry or spirituality, is a contemplative activity.

Like any good contemplative exercise, there is a discipline to it, a regularity to the practice. I come to meditate, to pray, to write even when at times I may not "feel" like it. Part of what these exercises have to teach me is to be present no matter what the external or internal weather might be like.

1 comment:

  1. I was never a writer, M was. I was the visual artist. Now I write more and she does more art. Things do happen when I write that reminds me of prayer.

    how many spoons do you have in that house?