by Alice

I read yesterday that for writers to maintain a habit of writing, they should take a  similar approach to how musicians practice, i.e., devotedly, everyday, in spare moments.

Great, I thought. Because I’m the girl who’s picked up her violin only once in the past year. My chances at maintaining a writing habit are about as great as my chances of getting into the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. Which is to say, I can do it, but only if I try.

I can see that once I get around to devoting the time, the approach is similar. When I practice, I tend to start out with scales and pieces that I memorized years ago. When I feel sufficiently in sync with the instrument, I’ll try a new piece, or go back to a passage over which I always trip.

For the last few weeks — months really — I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I wrote the first chapter and a few character sketches. Then I stopped. I wasn’t sure how to breathe life into it from there. Was my protagonist actually my antagonist? Should the best friend be the leading lady? Could I write it in a fairly regular atmosphere or should I add a fantasy element to it — demons, mermaids, prophesies — to dramatize the point?

Of course, thinking about a story is part of the writing process, but I have a history of over analyzing. I know this is spelling doom for my little project. So here I am, practicing my scales, the type of writing I figured out how to do long ago.