Recently, a dear friend from the United Kingdom introduced me to soft-boiled eggs served on toast. She made them perfectly each morning of her visit and, upon request, taught me her secret. The variables in making a perfect three-minute egg include egg size and temperature, as well as when one begins the three-minute countdown (barely boiling or bubbling madly).
This week, I decided to make them myself.
I reviewed all her instructions and, for good measure, consulted The Joy of Cooking. My confidence was high. But that first effort resulted in a gelatinous, barely edible mess. My second attempt was improved with the egg white perfect but the yoke overcooked. No doubt, my third attempt will result in a just-perfect soft-boiled egg.
All it takes is practice.
Practice creates confidence. Confidence empowers you. ~ Simone Biles
Which brings me to writing.
How often have you been given a writing recipe to follow, which you faithfully adhered to only to end up with something that didn’t work? Your own version of an edible, gelatinous mess. Did you publish or share it anyway (after all, you used a tried-and-true recipe)? Perhaps you trashed it. Maybe you put the work aside and came back to it with fresh eyes.
How did you feel about the experience? Frustrated? Pissed off? Did the message that “I’m not a writer” get reinforced by your attempt?
Just like learning to make a perfect soft-boiled egg takes practice, improving your writing takes effort. And this means writing regularly if only 10-15 minutes a day.
Clear the gunk.
One of my favorite ways to get rid of the jellied mess in my head is to write morning pages as suggested by Julia Cameron in her brilliant book, The Artist’s Way. The Cliffs’ Notes version of Cameron’s book is two-fold:
- Write for at least 15 minutes every morning. It doesn’t matter what you write, only that you do. Feeling stuck? No problem. Simply spend your time writing, “I don’t know what to write.” What happens is as you spend time on the page, you clear out the cobwebs. Every once in a while a delicious gem of a phrase appears as if by magic. It’s those morsels you use to craft meaningful prose.
- Weekly scheduled alone time to participate in a creative endeavor refuels us. These artist’s dates are non-negotiable. For me, my time can be spent coloring, reading, drawing, photographing, watching a film, viewing other art, walking, going to a concert, or browsing a new bookstore. What sparks your creativity? Brainstorm a list!
What ways do you practice your own craft?
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