Late this spring I read a blog (probably through Slice of Life) and the author shared her goal to write 3 pages a day each morning in a writer’s notebook. She invited others to join her in doing this. (If anyone remembers who blogged about this, please let me know so I can mention her by name and thank her for motivating me!) So, these days after I make my coffee and feed the cats, I take about 5-10 min. to glance at e-mails, messages, etc. then I close my computer and write in my notebook. I’m writing at least three pages almost every day. It’s a hodgepodge of thoughts, concerns, poems, story ideas, etc., but it’s amazing how quickly the pages pile up! For some reason I got into the habit of writing my starting and ending times, and I’ve found that it only takes me 15-20 min to fill three pages. (So, once school starts back up, I’m going to have a harder time convincing myself that I can’t find time to write!) But sometimes I wonder about the quality of what I’m writing. Will I do anything with all this … stuff!? Will it really serve any purpose? Will it help me with my writing?
I’ve heard/read two different things recently that relate to this and have really stuck with me and reassured me:
Not long ago I heard someone talking on the radio, recounting a pottery teacher’s experiment with his class*. The teacher divided students randomly into two groups. Group A was told to make as many pots as they could. Their final grade would be determined by the weight of what they produced: 50 pounds=A, 40 pounds=B, etc. Group B was told they needed to make just one pot and they would be graded on the quality of that pot. At the end of the class all of the highest quality pots came from Group A. Apparently the first group dove in and started making pots immediately. As they created, they also learned, tweaking and improving along the way. The second group , intent on creating one single perfect pot, was less productive and their final results were not as high quality. Fascinating, right?
Then I read an interview in which Tom Petty told a story about touring with Bob Dylan in Australia. Apparently an interviewer was giving Dylan a hard time, claiming his songs weren’t as relevant now as they had been. Dylan’s response was “Well, I’m out here writing songs. What are you doing?”
So, my plan for this summer has been simple. Create a quantity of writing and worry about the quality later. In other words: Write! Write! Write!
*I couldn’t find the original source for this experiment, but apparently it’s retold in the book Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING, by David Bayles and Ted Orland