Sharing Wisdom: Ifland, Dachy, and Wertheim on Writing Rituals

Les Figues authors, Alta Ifland, Vincent Dachy, and Christine Wertheim briefly dialogue with me about their writing rituals.

Dachy simply shared that he wakes up at 8am every Monday morning to write. He explains that that’s really the only time he can write. As that time and day approaches, he is anxious and excited to be able to write. It is rather a ‘get to’ moment, rather than a ‘have to’ process in his writing.

Ifland shared that she writes whenever she feels like it. She never forces herself. “I don’t understand those who feel guilty if they don’t write.” She explains that you should only write when you have something to write about. She says she can sometimes go weeks or months without writing anything because she doesn’t have anything to say, and what she wants to say is in the making in her mind. She feels like writers who feel guilty treat writing like a factory. “Writing is not production. The world can survive without your writing.” She advises to write when you have something to say. Otherwise, she asks, is it really writing then?

Wertheim says, “My poetry writes itself, and I’m the conduit through which it comes.” She writes as it comes. She explained that the voice within her is very insistent, and it has become more manageable over the years. “It’s always there–and it’s never going to go away–so I don’t feel like I have to force it.” Concretely, though, she explains that she works through schematic maps. She feels like she is working on one overall project, but her schematic maps allows her to put it bits the different sectors of her project. The direction of her different sectors may change day to day, and they may be concepts for the next book or the next poem. But they are all related. It allows her to have discipline. She explains that she had the same problems that she sees with her students. She teaches them to focus on the task (bit) at hand instead of the overwhelming whole–no matter how not overwhelming you convince yourself that it is. No one, she says, can lay out in its entirety every part of a project in one sitting. “It’s a skill that needs to be learned.”

Thank you for sharing! I hope you enjoyed the festival!–Zowie