The Importance of a Writing Practice

by Denise Santomauro

Prior to writing, I was in the performing arts. Auditioning, rehearsals, and performances were a regular part of my life. There’s another aspect of being a performing artist, though, that often goes unseen: practice. I was always practicing. I did vocal exercises in my living room, took dance classes, studied the way people interacted with each other on the train, at restaurants, walking down the street, etc., and played with movement palates and dialects. I practiced more than I performed, and my practice became vital to what I was able to accomplish on stage. 

So, when I started writing, I knew I had to create a practice for myself. But how do you practice writing a novel? (Hint: you don’t)

While many artistic forms have established techniques for practicing, figuring out a writing practice is challenging and easier to set aside in favor of working on a project. The absence of a writing practice, though, means that all practice happens within the context of a writing project, which is being created for (hopefully) publication. Experimenting and failing can feel too risky to try when a future audience hovers over the work. A writing practice provides an opportunity to try something new and fail and fail and fail, and then learn from that failing.

Developing a writing practice also allows writers to support a larger, often more high stakes project. When developed with current writing projects in mind, a writing practice creates a low-pressure space to explore craft elements plaguing a manuscript. The skills and tools that grow from that experimentation end up serving the manuscript while also growing a writer’s craft. 

By taking the time to develop a writing practice, writers give themselves the gift of a fun, productive way to play and expand their skills, and a space to grow their writing craft. 

Denise is teaching a single-session course “Writer’s Rehearsal Room: Developing a Writing Practice” in-person at the Studio on October 20. Register now to reserve your spot!

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