Grind: To crush or pulverize; to polish, sharpen or refine by friction; to rub or bear down on harshly; to oppress or weaken gradually; to operate by turning a crank; to produce mechanically and without inspiration; to instill or teach by persistent repitition.
Or, to write every day. I’m Grinding this month for the fourth time. The Grind is a commitment to writing something every day for a month and sending whatever you’ve written to your co-Grinders. You can only get into the Grind via invitation, and you can only be invited by someone who has successfully done a full month of the Grind without missing a day.
Created by poet Ross White, the Grind creates a virtual writing accountability community. You get sent a link to a website where you sign up for the coming month and choose the category of writing you want to do: new or revised poetry, new or revised prose, or manic mix, which means write whatever you want.
But you must write! Ross organizes writers into groups of 10 or so according to genre, then emails out the group assignments. There are only two rules: you must write something everyday and email it to the others in your group by midnight of whatever time zone you’re in, and you must not share any writing that’s sent to you without permission. This is not a feedback group. You don’t critique what’s sent to you, you don’t even have to read it. It’s just about writing and sending.
Simple, and profound. I’ve never known anyone in my Grind groups, though I do read their bios, which come with the group assignments. But I’m responsible to them — they are expecting something from me in their inbox every day, as I expect something from them. Someone is paying attention to whether or not I write. Or more importantly, I’m paying attention to whether or not I write every day, because I’ve made that commitment to a group of strangers.
I don’t think Grinding is producing “mechanically and without inspiration.” I think it’s more teaching “by persistent repitition.” Mostly it’s “to polish, sharpen or refine by friction.” The friction of making sure I get some words on to the screen and out in to the world everyday. Friends I’ve invited in to the Grind talk about the value of paying attention to language and creativity for at least a tiny part of each busy day. One friend hasn’t missed a day of Grinding since January and talks about how it’s fundamentally changed her relationship to her practice of writing.
Grinding is practice and practice is essential to any craft. So I polish, sharpen, refine, Grind.