What writing requires

What writing requires.jpg

In Irving Stone’s biographical novel of Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ectasy, there is the line: “Inside himself he had to grow as his sculpture grew and matured.” Each sculpture required not just time but his own internal growth. I think it’s that way with writing. Not necessarily the writing of blog posts, which will move off a blog’s front page within a week or a month’s time, but the writing of work that both stands on its own and stands the test of time. This kind of writing needs the writer to attend to it daily or nearly so. 

It seems to me that if I go more than about three days without attending to a piece of writing, key connections about that piece that have been forming in my brain, even without being aware of it, become lost, conferring a much greater setback to the project than the question, Now where was I?, might reveal. But the line about Michelangelo takes the need for regular and ongoing attention a deep step further. 

The lasting kind of writing requires the writer and the work to grow simultaneously. If the writer isn’t spending time with the work, then she can’t grow along with it and it can’t grow and mature with her, no matter how many tweaks or edits are made.

I think about this ideal as my calendar fills and my other “noncreative” writing work (although hopefully still creative in a sense) also requires time and attention to become something solid and good. It feels like an unattainable ideal, but the value in such an ideal is that it keeps you striving after it in at least some capacity. I assume this tension is there for anyone pursuing a creative endeavor. Even reading a book that has formative potential can take that kind of daily attention and growth.