There are many ways to write, however, many people will tell you that you must stick to a strict writing schedule–each and every day at a particular time you must plant yourself in a chair and write even if you have an appendectomy scheduled for that afternoon.
I try to do this but often times it just doesn’t pan out. Instead, I tend to write in spurts and I was encouraged to read that Marilynne Robinson does something similar:
“I really am incapable of discipline. I write when something makes a strong claim on me. When I don’t feel like writing, I absolutely don’t feel like writing. I tried that work ethic thing a couple of times—I can’t say I exhausted its possibilities—but if there’s not something on my mind that I really want to write about, I tend to write something that I hate. And that depresses me. I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to live through the time it takes for it to go up the chimney. Maybe it’s a question of discipline, maybe temperament, who knows? I wish I could have made myself do more. I wouldn’t mind having written fifteen books.”
Recently I have adopted an approach similar to the strategies concerning prayer within Judaism–keva, or fixed and structured times, and kavanah, or spontaneous moments. Within Judaism keva and kavanah are both valued and integrated into religious life.
In like manner, I try to write on weekday mornings yet I am ready to abandon a particular day’s work if my well is just flat dry. Also, I readily write, even if it is inconvenient, if I have a moment of inspiration or motivation.
So, next time someone asks me if I stick to a writing plan or if I just write when I feel like it I am going to simply respond by saying, “both.”
For more on keva and kavanah see this reflection on the Union for Reform Judaism site.