From Kate’s Writing Crate…
I started writing seriously when I began filling a notebook a month as recommended by Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones. This helped me learn to meet deadlines. Also, the more I wrote, the faster I wrote.
When I interned at a monthly magazine, I received assignments with two week deadlines. I had to learn to manage my time between research, interviews, writing, and rewriting before turning them over to my editor.
After a few months, when articles fell through for other writers I would be assigned to write these or other articles on much shorter deadlines—sometimes a week, sometimes only two or three days. The pages of the magazines had to be filled. No exceptions. After I became the assistant editor, in one month I wrote seven articles published in two magazines.
If anyone had told me six months before this happened that I could write seven articles in two weeks, I would not have believed them. The reality is the more you write, the faster you write.
If you don’t have assignments, it can be hard to make yourself write which is why the filling a notebook a month deadline works so well. Once you are in the habit of writing, you can write on demand.
I’ve been blogging for three and a half years now. Every Monday I post a book review or an essay on writing, reading, or literary life.
I have the books I want to review on a list so it’s simple to pick one I’ve read and write about it. As I’ve mentioned previously, I underline, mark passages, and make notes in the margins while I read so it’s easy to pull a review together.
It’s much more difficult to come up with essay topics. Sometimes I look at my blog list by month and there are nothing but question marks where the titles of essay posts should be written. I often think I won’t come up with ideas in time.
Four days before my first February essay was due to be posted, I had no idea what I would write about in the three essays I needed for the month. Then I remembered Kristen Lamb writing about the importance of writing reviews for authors we love in her blog on January 4th so I wrote my Love Letter Book Reviews essay posted on 2/1/16. Then I saw the BBC America news report about Logos Hope—the Book Boat that visits ports around the world hosting floating book fairs for places with few books—a dream-come-true project for readers around the world and my second essay idea was formed.
I wrote both those pieces on the same day which gave me the idea for this essay. Since I write a lot, I can write on demand. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it does prepare you to write proficiently.