How to feed your writing life

Every week, a friend and I exchange the same question:

How did you feed your writing life this week?

We are writers. We want to write more, and better, and see the results of our commitment to a creative life. And so, like Weight Watchers or a 12 Step Program, we keep each other accountable. We share our drafts and works-in-progress. We exchange achievements and concerns. We encourage each other while also applying slight (but loving) pressure to act. It is not enough to wish. You must write — and when not writing, you must exercise the writing muscle through other literary actions.

Five Ways to Feed Your Writing Life

Read, Read, Read.  And read more.

Read more than you write. Read stories, poems, essays, magazines, dictionaries, history books, cookbooks, cereal boxes. Reading will always expand your life and your writing. Influence is good. Let yourself be immersed and influenced. Good writing will shape your own writing.

Attend a Workshop.
I just returned from the South Coast Writers Conference where I led two workshops. The sessions were lively and the writers warm and friendly. It was great fun.

I spend much of my time alone, quietly crafting words. Until I am in a room full of writers, I forget the wonderful rush writing with a group can bring. When we write together, we buzz in a collective creativity, and when we share our work we feel great energy and relief.

Take a workshop. Week-long and weekend workshops are plentiful, but there are loads of one-day, half-day and one-hour events, too. And many are free or low-fee. Look to your library, or local writing organization, for writing opportunities.

Go to a Reading.
Nothing stirs the writing juices like hearing the work of others. Almost every town holds a reading or an open mic night (even small towns, like mine, with just 650 people, have readings at coffeehouses and libraries). At a reading, you'll have the opportunity to meet other writers, hear new ideas, and measure your work against what you hear. Even better, take part! Sharing your words before an audience is an excellent way to discover where your work skips, soars, or lags.

And remember, it's good to encourage one another. We're all in this together. Give yourself bonus points for reaching out to newbies.

Write a Letter.
You know how I feel about letters. They save lives, or at least brighten them. Writing a letter is an excellent way to "pretend" write. You know you should polish your poems, or start your story. But you're not feeling it. Reach instead for pen and paper, and write a letter. You'll quickly find yourself in a pool of words and ideas.   

By the way, how is the Month of Letters Challenge going?

Watch a Movie about Writing.
It feels a bit like cheating but watching a movie about writers always inspires me to pick up my own pen. After all, literary acts are really just ways to nudge us back to our own writing.

A few of my favorite write-themed movies are:  Il Postino, Freedom Writers, Bad Writing, SlamNation, The Hobart Shakespeareans, Finding Forrester, and Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.


Tell me, how are you feeding your writing life?