Wiley Wednesday: Irreducible Minimums

There’s an idea in piano instruction called the Irreducible Minimums. It’s the idea that there are certain things that one must do on a regular basis, those “at least” things that keep us with one foot in the water.

As it relates to writing, there are certain things that we must do on a regular basis to keep the pump primed and the ideas flowing. But for each writer, those things are different.

Here, then, is the List According to Noony (which is the only right list, you know…)

1. Morning Pages

Those of you who have been readers of mine for a while have heard me harp on this subject quite a bit. It bears repeating: Morning Pages work. They work because they keep the channel clear. They are the small step that leads to bigger steps.

In case you haven’t been reading my material (and if not, you should feel very guilty and go fix that right now by reading everything) (from the beginning) (and making comments on each thing) what are Morning Pages? They are an idea from the genius mind of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and other books, and are three pages of longhand writing, done in the morning. They are hardest for writers, because our temptation is to write them. They aren’t meant to be fine prose, or even grammatically correct. In fact, one way to really get a lot out of them is to try to write them badly. Write them from the perspective of a child throwing a tantrum. Write them however you write them, but write them. Three pages of them. Every morning.

2. Regular Sleep

This may sound like a “duh” moment, but it amazes me how many people I know who don’t let themselves get enough sleep. They try to burn the candle at both ends and wonder why they’ve run out of wax. Stupid. Sleep is necessary for mammals. (In case you haven’t been paying attention, if you’re reading this, you’re a mammal.)

3. Support

This may sound foo-foo, but it’s critical. Studies have shown that people with extended networks of family and friends do better on all sorts of measurements from tests to longevity. Writing is a solitary activity, since it comes down to us with a pen or keyboard. But you do not need to be solitary to pursue it. There are all kinds of writing groups, online support, and other resources you can use to meet this basic human need.

4. Practice

In order to keep it going, and get better, storytellers need to practice. Experiment with new techniques, write to writing prompts, and keep your hand in. Blogs are a good way to keep it flowing and to get support, all at the same time.

5. Write

It may seem simplistic, but in order to keep writing, one must… write. It’s not hard.

Of course, it ain’t easy, either…

What are your irreducible minimums?

2 Replies to “Wiley Wednesday: Irreducible Minimums”

  1. This all makes a great deal of sense. Thanks for sharing! I would say my minimum is just to get started and not let the inner critic stop me. 🙂 Your encouragement helps with that!

  2. I think I'm going to try that 3 pages thing. Thanks so much for sharing!
    My minimums include reading regularly (preferably every day), writing something every day (even if it's total crap), and interacting with strangers at least once a week (at work, or wherever).

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