Since I have a large family, a constant thread of discussion is always on cleaning bedrooms. Apparently, my definition of a clean bedroom is far different from my children's. I'd like to see the carpet occasionally. I'd like to go to the closet and see the clothes hanging from the rod instead of jumbled into a ball on the floor. I'd like to know that we're not growing our own version of penicillin under the bed. I don't insist that the vacuum marks all align in the same direction or that the windows are so clear birds might fly through them. I don't demand that the walls are completely smudge free or that the pillows are fluffed to a certain state of fluffiness. I merely ask that when I walk by the bedroom I don't shudder and feel an uncontrollable urge to vomit.
We were having another discussion this morning about how I wanted the rooms to be cleaned since we start school next week. (We all know it'd be so much easier for me to simply clean their rooms and be done with it, but what would that teach them?) After our discussion followed several smaller talks with individual kids about how he/she would fold clothes, place blankets in a certain place, line up shoes on the shelf, display only important items on the dressers, organize Legos, and general plans for the room. All of these were great ideas. It was wonderful to discuss their plans and see that they were thinking about their rooms and how to make them function more efficiently. It was effective to bounce ideas around and ask for advice. It helped to make the cleaning seem like it was manageable until . . . . it came time for the actual work. We'd done so much talking and planning, yet, nothing was accomplished. The rooms are still messy and my kids are still talking about how they plan to clean. I keep reminding them that all the talking in the world won't make up for not following through with the work.
And so it is with writing. We can talk about it, think about it, plan it, read about how to do it, and otherwise involve ourselves, but until we actually tackle the work and accomplish what we've planned, it isn't truly writing. Someone has said, "Writing is writing." The process of sitting down, creating stories, revising, reworking, rewriting, and continuing the process until we have a finished product that satisfies us is writing. Hundreds, probably thousands, of books have been written on writing and these books certainly serve a purpose, but it's the writing that has to be the priority. We learn best from doing because . . . writers write.