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Friday, October 23, 2015


Friday Speak Out!: Practice, Practice, Practice

by Michele MacKinnon

Back in April I started a four-week class which blended “low-impact art exercises” and writing about each exercise. The class description grabbed me: “Are you stuck?” “Yes,” I answered silently. When invited to write about my reasons for attending the class I scribbled “I feel I am starting a transition to something new, to something that allows me to experience joy more often.” Writing is a source of joy for me

I quit my corporate job in July. It’s October, and I am writing but not as often as I should. Competition has crowded out my writing time. Long-delayed lunches with friends, tending and tweaking the perennial gardens calling to me with their siren song of leaves and blooms and plants needing planting which I couldn’t resist bringing home, and all those recipes I finally tried which livened up the dinner menu over the last few months.

It’s time to get serious. I’ve given myself a stern talking-to. When my writing group met a few weeks ago I listed all the writing to-do’s I’ve meant to tackle for too long. Being a type A person, crossing items off this list will help motivate me. Practice will lead to improvements. It’s the same solution I repeated for building workplace skills when the question arose in multiple training sessions I led. My list covers a wide variety of writing topics also, which will help me narrow down my focus to the writing I enjoy most. Bouncing between memoir, gardening advice and travel tips is a spicy blend, but spicy blends are better suited to my cooking and may be slowing improvements to my writing abilities.

Now that I’ve confessed to the mess-in-a-dress approach I’ve been taking with writing, I need to come up with a plan, another common suggestion when asked for career advice at work. Even though my plan is simple I know I will struggle with sticking to it, and that’s why the practice, practice, practice is important. So what is my plan? I’m going to write every day. Even if it’s in 15 minute chunks I’m going to make the time. The light will stay on until I spend those 15 minutes and whatever words they produce are committed to the page.

There is a sense of deep satisfaction when I uncover a story, then write and re-write it until becomes a recipe I can make from memory. Back in the spring an art exercise prompted me to express my thoughts about writing and they’ve stayed in my mind throughout this busy summer.

Writing. Reading. Words. The right words to write. There is so much joy in writing the right words, to pulling them out of the air, placing them side by side, seeing if they fit. Writing is painting with words.

It’s time to do some painting.

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Michele MacKinnon is a memoir writer and has been a member of the Candlewood Writer’s Workshop in Fairfield County, Connecticut since its inception.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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