Like anything else in life, writing takes commitment. A pianist or guitarist practices scales every day, ideally in all twelve keys. A professional baseball player goes through an elaborate stretching routine before embarking on infield drills, batting practice, and playing catch before a game’s first pitch is tossed.
Writers do not have such warm-up exercises, and just typing “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs” doesn’t count. The only way to write is simply to start writing.
Ever hear of a fellow named Bob Lefsetz? He’s a music industry insider who writes a daily blog that is must reading for record label executives, producers and studio engineers, band managers, rock musicians, fans, and anyone who loves music. Lefsetz faithfully posts an 800-plus word essay every night on a wide range of topics: what record labels doing are wrong; what today’s artists are doing right; heartfelt appreciations of artists and musicians who have passed away; the foolishness in Washington; and so much more.
Bob apparently just writes off the top of his head, often commenting on current events as they happen. He has no footnotes and he cites no sources but his extensive experience as a band manager, a record label exec, and a music industry lawyer — among other hats he has worn — uniquely qualify him to pontificate with the voice of someone who obviously knows what he’s talking about. And he holds nothing back, saying exactly what he thinks and feels, often with caustic honesty. When Bob Lefsetz writes, people listen.
Did I mention that Bob blogs every day? Wow. He inspires me. Here’s an article about Bob from the LA Times:
How I Made It - Bob Lefsetz went from failed music manager to one of the most influential voices in the industry
Bob commitment to writing is something I aspire to, especially if I’m serious about finishing From Mountains High. Writing a book is daunting and intimidating, as I may have mentioned before. The only way to get it done is to break it up in smaller, manageable pieces. It also requires a willingness to write randomly and not in sequential order.
For example, I have been working on my 1978 chapter on the Year of Three Popes since last winter. It requires much research into Popes Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II. When I get tired of working on that topic, I switch back to writing on the St. Louis Jesuits in 1975. When I reach an impasse there, I shift gears to the changes in the Sacrament of Penance in 1974. And so on. It’s like TV channel surfing, I guess. That kind of scattered approach might drive some people crazy but it works for me and helps keep my writing fresh.