Monday, March 30, 2009

The Art of Writing

When it comes to writing – to really getting down to the job of putting my ideas on paper – I have been known to dither. I confess. I am a ditherer.

The act of transforming mental images into words is the writer’s favourite activity. We live for those moments when time disappears and we’re completely unaware of our surroundings: we exist in another dimension – our written dimension. It’s intoxicating and exciting and exhausting all at once.

We emerge from one of these sessions unaware that hours have passed and, often, facing a list of things that need doing. The writing is set aside till next time.

But unfortunately, this is what often happens next: knowing that we need a chunk of time to reach that state of complete writing oblivion, we wait to start again. We wait till there is nothing on our desks needing attention (bills, membership renewals, emails to check or respond to), or no chores or family obligations calling our name. The kitchen is tidy, the kids are delivered to school, the dog has been walked, the laundry folded....

The problem is: how often do we find ourselves completely free to write? Almost never.

And so we dither. Or, at least, I dither.

It takes time to write. And the time is there: we just have to take it.

The art of writing, said author Mary Heaton Vorse, is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

Simple. True. I vow to put my days of dithering behind me.


  1. Ah. Nicely explored - application of one's backside to, in my case, one's 'special writing chair' - and, I plan to do just that...once all of the other stuff is done and dusted...I, too, have taken dithering to a height that often surpasses even my expectations.
    If life were made for writing, think of the productivity!
    Now, to go put another load of laundry in...

  2. Jean, you were clearly reading my dithering mind and went straight to the heart of the problem--life! Here's to more visits to the writing 'dimension' and the very necessary care and feeding of our creative spirits.

  3. I am sooooo dithery that when I sit down to add to the novel, poetry comes out. That's a ditherer trying to realize his creative imperative!