Writing practice and my neurotic dog

Writing practice

Writing practice

“Write every day.” It’s a common piece of advice for all sorts of aspiring writers–journalists and fiction writers alike.

Grammar and spelling are like riding a bike. Using them properly can become automatic.

But writing, which also involves at least style, speed and clarity, needs to be cultivated with a daily habit.

Months ago a friend gave me a copy of “Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life,” by Natalie Goldberg. In it Goldberg gives instructions for various writing exercises.

Her tips inspired me to start a practice routine of my own. It looks like I will practice about once per week at my current rate. The more frequently you can practice, the better. But the important thing is to establish a practice routine.

I thought I would take an event or item from daily life and describe it. Below is a snippet from my practice at writing about a thunderstorm we had last week. In it I describe how my dog reacts to the storm.

Be gentle. It’s my first draft.

May 11, 2015

What is a thunderstorm

“The dog knows when a storm is coming. She hears a gentle rumble in the distance. So do I. Her 75-pound body becomes immovable and heavy. She bucks against the leash. She must get back inside. She doesn’t think she will survive the terror outside, alone with a force that consumes the sky and rattles the earth underneath her calloused black pads.

“Drops pelt the pavement under the sky, leaving coin-sized puddles. The air smells like wet concrete. The traffic noise rustles in the background, the drivers unfazed by the coming storm. Birds continue their chirping in the soggy air.

“But the dog knows the world is about to change. She paces on the covered porch, ignoring her breakfast. She must get back inside. The thunder will be gentler there. She fights a human leg, shoeing her off the steps that lead into the house. I hold her collar and rub her throat to calm her. The sky stops rumbling and the trembling beast relaxes. Then I betray her. I push against her neck and pull myself inside with the other arm. I close the door, squeezing her white snout outside. She stares at the door a while, hoping for mercy. Then she huddles against the bricks, taking cover in the coming storm.”

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