Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Importance of Daily Practice

The past couple of months have been challenging to say the least: illness, an overbooked schedule, computer glitches, book promotions, teaching, working on a new book while trying to finish a deadlined book -- a nap would be great!

I have a lot of catching up to do in the next few weeks, but one of the things that has helped the most through all of the tumult has been Daily Practice.

That means something different for everyone. For me, it means sticking to my daily practice of yoga, meditation -- and writing.

Yes, writing.

How often does something happen in life you let interfere with your writing? I hear it all the time from my students -- overtime at work, unexpected guests, etc., etc., etc. It doesn’t matter. Keep writing.

How many people sign up to do Nano, which only requires a little over 1600 words a day for a single month, and can’t sustain it? I stopped mentoring Nano writers because my one criteria was, “If I accept you in the mentoring group, you have to promise not to quit. I’m INVESTING in you -- time and energy. So is everyone else in the group. Don’t throw it back in our faces.” They’d promise anything and then bail.

If you can’t sustain a month, you can’t sustain a writer’s life.

If you do 200 words every six weeks, you’re not going to build and sustain a career. As Carolyn See stays in her book, MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, “1000 words a day for the rest of your life.” Ray Bradbury, in ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, talks about writing a thousand words a day for years. At a recent conference at which I presented, both keynote speakers emphasized the need to write every day. No matter what else is going on in your life.

That’s how books are written and careers built. The dailiness builds rhythm, teaches you the internal music of your book, and helps you face the day when it’s harder to find the right words to hit your quota. The longer a break you have between writing sessions, the harder it is to get back into it.

Going to the page every day brings me the same kind of peace and stability that going to the yoga mat and the meditation cushion every day bring. On the tough days, there's resistance. But you show up, you put in the effort, and there's something tangible at the end. At the end of a yoga session, there's a sense of well-being; at the end of a meditation session, there's a sense of clarity. At the end of a writing session, there are tangible pages, and the sense of connection with the world of the book. It includes and builds on the well-being and clarity achieved on the mat and the cushion.

Flowing through yoga to meditation to the desk, having all three as a piece, as my morning ritual, builds a stability and a stamina to face whatever challenges the rest of the day throws at me. If I miss any of the triad, I'm out of balance, and it affects the rest of the day.

So I don't skip any of it, even if it means getting up a couple of hours earlier than normal.

Write every day. Even if your life is falling apart. The more you integrate writing into your life, the easier and more natural it becomes. And the better the quality of those daily words grows.

--Annabel Aidan is a full-time writer who publishes under a half a dozen names in fiction and non-fiction. Her latest release, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, is available in digital and print from Champagne Books. Visit her on the web at


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Excellent advice. Life and writing are all about discipline.

January Bain said...

Annabel, what wise words of wisdom from the master! Every beginning writer would more than benifit from this sage advice, so much so, that I'm wondering if I could share this blog with others by printing it? Best, January

Annabel Aidan said...

Julie, thanks for the kind words. "Discipline" doesn't have to be negative or imprisoning. It can be quite liberating!

January, I'm honored. As long as there's proper attribution, go right ahead and share this.