Thoreau on writing daily

In an early entry in Thoreau’s journal, he writes this about writing. He was 23 at the time:

Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore. So much increase of terra firma (solid earth). This may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed.

The same applies to any type of writing. For a poetry manuscript or the first draft of a novel, writing for a long-term project requires resilience against one’s own whim to do something else. Even reading cannot encroach into one’s writing time. Bit by bit, the circumference of words begins to increase, and if you keep up with the habit religiously, soon enough you’ll be sitting on fifty, hundred, hundred-and-fifty pages of raw material.

The hospitality of writing

Billy Collins, ars poetica:

Collins has described himself as “reader conscious”: “I have one reader in mind, someone who is in the room with me, and who I’m talking to, and I want to make sure I don’t talk too fast, or too glibly. Usually I try to create a hospitable tone at the beginning of a poem. Stepping from the title to the first lines is like stepping into a canoe. A lot of things can go wrong.” Collins further related: “I think my work has to do with a sense that we are attempting, all the time, to create a logical, rational path through the day. To the left and right there are an amazing set of distractions that we usually can’t afford to follow. But the poet is willing to stop anywhere.”

from Poetry Foundation