While I was out running holiday errands this morning, I heard a clip of an interview with Fred Rogers on the Diane Rehm Show. During the exchange, Diane jokes that she and Mr. Rogers "must have the slowest voices in broadcasting," to which Mr. Rogers replies, "Well, don't you think we need some slowness...some deep and simple time in this life?" Yes. Yes, I do.
The act of writing requires us to slow down, to think deeply about things, to ask questions and search for answers through the lens of language. Writing is a practice, after all, and it can't be rushed. You can have all the talent in the world, but unless you make the time to develop your craft, you won't get far. This is true of any art form, but because a writer's most necessary tool is her imagination, the practice of writing can feel especially elusive.
There is no one way or right way to develop a writing practice, but you do need to find a process that works for you. I took a writing workshop once where the instructor gave us writing prompts but only allowed us to write for 15 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I could get on the page in that short period of time. 15 minutes a day. That's all you need to get going. Before long, these short bursts of writing will become longer, more productive sessions.
It helps to have a routine. Get your 15 minutes in when you wake up in the morning, during your lunch break, or just before bedtime. Or maybe you're the kind of person who would rather mix up the schedule. It doesn't matter when you choose to write or if you write at the same time every day. What's crucial is that you write every day.
For these brief exercises, I prefer writing with pen and paper, but the medium is really up to you.
Writing requires deep thinking; the practice you develop will, over time, allow you to more quickly access that part of your imagination that powers your storytelling. So sit down and slow down. Free your mind. And write.
For more on the process of writing fiction, check out Robert Olen Butler and his book, From Where You Dream.