I am always writing but not always writing a book. Days come when I am hitting in the cage, trying to stay sharp. I try to keep my swing grooved so when game time comes, the time to write a book, I am as ready as I can be.
I scribble away on other things, trying to keep my swing up to snuff.
I recommend all writers do the same.
I suggest journaling for one thing.
I began my first journal when I was twelve. I started out using an ugly little paperback with a Peter Max cover that my father gave me for Christmas. Over the years I have come to fill about two sketchbook pages a day with notes and comments, observations and wondering, thanksgiving and tirades.
The stillness and the quiet inherent in this daily exercise can help a writer stay in touch with what is going on in his heart and mind in the hours and days and weeks of his life. The simple act of reporting to himself helps him learn to talk straight about things that matter. A journal forces a writer to listen to his life.
A journal provides a place for him to learn to speak truth to himself about himself or discover his capacity for disingenuousness. A place to discover when he writes too fast or too glib, too carefully or too safely. A place to discover his voice slowly over time so that when the real game is afoot, he can trust it.
“The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you hear what is sounding outside,” writes Dag Hammarskjöld. “And only he who listens can speak.”
– Robert Benson “Dancing on the Head of a Pen”