Writing 101: Commit to a Writing Practice

Today, celebrate three songs that are significant to you. For your twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.

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Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

The basic unit of writing practice is the timed exercise.

— Natalie Goldberg

Author Natalie Goldberg says to “burn through to first thoughts, to that place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor.” Here are some of her rules of free writing practice from Writing Down the Bones, which we recommend you keep in mind:

  • Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you’ve just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.)
  • 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 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.)

Jorge Luis Borges said: “Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.” So, what are you waiting for? Get writing. Fifteen minutes. Go. And then, do it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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  1. I am very busy at my job but I completed the first 2 tasks I believe… its very hard to get 15 mins a day but I am going to try and work on the tasks I missed tomorrow…

    any advice for how to fit in time for writing? whenever I get home at night I feel like I have no energy left to write anything down.


    1. I know, when I took a creative writing course many people suggested that to fit in their writing time they purposefully set their alarm 20 minutes early and wrote prior to starting their day. I know it can be near impossible to write after a long day, at least for me, and I am always fresh and creative in the morning 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Some writing books call these Morning pages–I have done this for years and it works. You can write anything–inner thoughts or work angst. After a while when you re-read your pages you may find a theme, an answer to a problem or a story line.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I struggle with this, too. Plus my brain is fried from the day. I’ve started getting up rally early (5am) to get my writing done. That doesn’t work for everyone, but it works well for me. I do my networking and connecting with other bloggers at lunch and in the evenings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just wanted to participate, the disappointment is not the free class but asking people to register and not actually registering them. Its all good now, I received both my invites today


  2. I am in love with this idea! A writing course in college called on us to complete this seemingly simple task. What surprised me was how difficult it is to ignore our internal censor. This is definitely a worth while and eye-opening activity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie Goldberg’s “The Art of Writing Memoir” is fantastic. It’s great to see her tips and techniques here. I listen to the audiobook while driving, then stop at each assignment until I can complete it; when I go back to where I left off I feel like I’m right there in the session. The wild mind is the only mind to write with!


  3. I use songs as a means to channel certain emotions and trigger new points of interest. So for me, there is no such thing as ‘favourite music’ haha.

    Great pointers. That’s what I plan to do with my blog. Get down to the bottom of my thoughts, whatever they may be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Songs are trivialities which we assign to things, which may or may not be of import to anyone. It’s that moment in time in relation to one’s feeling, and how one felt when we heard that song, tune, melody, drum solo, rap – whatever – that key’s in our memory, stirs our soul, make us remember that thing that was important to we, then when;
    I fell in love,
    I fell apart and you were there,
    I fell apart, alone,
    It was the first time,
    It was the worst time,
    It was just another time,
    When I felt ALIVE!
    When I felt like SOMEONE,
    When I felt,
    and that was plenty for me then,
    I love that I am alive.


  5. I didn’t cross out, think about grammar, or get logical. I just wrote. Here is my post: http://burgesstaylor7911.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/commit-to-a-writing-practice/ Not sure that I like the post, but I did give it an honest try. I prefer editing my posts before I publish them, but that means looking at grammar, being logical, and having control… Which would have meant breaking the rules–not that I’m not okay with breaking some rules, but I’m trying really hard to do as directed so I can improve my blog. Hope this works.


    1. Hey! I totally agree – music is to the ears as beauty is to the eyes. I understand your choice of music gives you a feeling of nostalgia – and there isn’t a feeling more comforting and beautiful. Keep writing.


      1. More than the songs, I liked the relativity to those songs…FOR EVERY MOMENT, THERE IS A SONG…and you had your too 🙂
        GOLD STAR


  6. Hi

    I do not have access to the commons. I received my welcome email on September 12th and and an email allowing me access to the Blogging 101 commons late in the evening of September 15th. I have had no problems entering the Blogging 101 commons. Can you invite me to this commons again? I am on webmail so I don’t have a junk folder and I checked with my provider and they are not blocking your address.

    Thank you for your help. I am very much enjoying the courses and assignments. I am invigorated and excited about blogging and writing generally!