It's kind of terrifying to realize how little I have written in the past month.
Okay, that isn't entirely true. I have written a ton, but most that is nothing more than brief snippets of presentation materials, proposals, and research entries for my dissertation project.
Sure, these are valuable and necessary writings. They are not writing practice, though. They are, at best, a sort of functional paperwork—the busywork of my day-to-day experience.
For me, this a problem.
Writing is craft. It is a skill that can be learned and honed. While there may be a few geniuses out there who start a bit further along, we all get better the same way.
When we stop, we get rusty.
Writing then, at least for me, has always demanded a sort of ritualized engagement in two separate but equal parts (cue the Law and Order music).
- A dedicated time for writing
- A dedicated time for reading
Both of these practices are intricately connected. I cannot have one with the other. Trying to write without reading is like learning an instrument without reading music or listening to other musicians. It can theoretically be done but so much is lost along the way.
It is interesting how difficult it is to set aside the time for those two practices. Even in academia, reading and writing always seem to take a backseat to other work. I think we (and by we, really mean I) do that to our overall detriment.
To my advantage, I had a pretty solid practice going until the beginning of this year. This semester has posed challenges to many of my better habits. I am just now finding ways to adjust. I acknowledge that I have tremendous privilege in getting to pursue these practices. That privilege is not something that I take lightly, because I also understand how easily that privilege can be lost and how precious that time truly is.