One thing that I’ve learned (though it’s something that I’ve also known, sometimes you can know something and not truly know it until you learn/ feel it) is that I need to write.
In a way, it doesn’t matter what I’m writing, or why. I just need to do it. I need to crank out words onto an open screen. I need to release my secrets into Moleskine journals. I need to find pretty paper and write lovely letters. I need to stop and asses my day. I need to purge thoughts onto the screen before I can full comprehend my own feelings. I need to spread my thoughts over the Internet, risking over sharing for the option of reaching out. I need a place to stick the stories I create. I need to mold them into reality by the way of words.
In short. I need to write. There’s no way around it. Every since I was in second grade and we started writing exercises on computers, I’ve needed to write. I asked for a computer for Christmas and Santa brought a shiny new black and white MS Dos computer. At school we wrote short stories. I really feel like that was the beginning of everything. Of where I am today.
And so I come to tell you about 750 Words. I’ve made this post before, though it’s never seen the real Internet world. Every version is a little different, but still every version is a little bit closer to what I want to say.
750 Words is a website based off Julia Cameron‘s idea of “morning pages” it’s what you write before you write anything else, the brain dump that gets you going. It’s your warm up exercise to accompany your cup of tea. There are no rules for morning pages, but the point of 750 words is to write that many words per day, at least to start off. 750 words is the equivalent of three double spaced pages and it’s a canvas to your day.
You can write journal entries, brainstorm random thoughts, think up blog posts, insult your neighbour, complain about the state of the world, create an alter ego, or write fiction. You can review the movies you’ve seen and hated, wonder what the future will be like, create shopping lists, explain why you won’t be crossing things off your to-do list, write love letters to someone you haven’t met. You can do anything with words and a blank space. It’s yours for the taking.
Fun things about 750 Words include: random badges when you’ve completed 750 words for days at a time, pie charts to tell you how emotional/ positive/ etc. your writing has been, and graphs to show how fast you wrote and how many times you were distracted for three or more minutes at a time. If you sign up, you can elect to get a daily e-mail reminder to write your words.
Over the past few months I’ve been slacking with writing my 750 words daily. I’ve put all of my focus into writing my novel and then, at the end of November, burning out and just taking too much time off. I’ve managed to not write blog posts, forget about journaling and ignore words that weren’t already published (I mean, I read five books last week. I guess that’s kind of a lot…). I plan on using 750 Words to bring me back into the world of blogging, to remind me to finish my novel and to let my writing take over like it wants to most of the time.
So if you’re a writer of sorts, or if you like to make epically long lists or if you’re looking for something to complain to, I suggest checking out 750 Words. The daily e-mail reminders are great, just because they are one more thing to talk you out of keeping lazy. If you’re a wanna be writer, now is the perfect time to stare at the blank white screen like the rest of us.
There’s one thing that I always remember about my freshman year fiction writing class. You have to show up in order for the writing to. My professor taught us that discipline is what brings on inspiration. Sitting down to write every single day, especially if it’s in the same place at the same time, trains your brain to think writerly things. It makes it so you are able to write, even if you think you can’t. And it also means that if you want to be a writer, you can be a writer. You just have to show up and do the work. And you’ll keep learning along the way. It may not mean that you’re going to be published or that you can make a living off your words, but that’s not the point in writing, anyway.
The point is something you’ll have to figure out on your own.
Are you stuck yet? The other day I passed the halfway mark, a few days premature of the middle of November. I was delighted and excited! Then the day after that, I felt stuck. And then I got a cold. I’ve been drowning in a sea of tissues and drinking orange juice nonstop. It’s hard to stay clear headed when I can’t breathe! But this is just another obstacle, something to push past.
Another huge obstacle is writer’s block.
Writer’s block can be anything to anyone. Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls once described as when you write and everything feels like it’s crap. To me, writer’s block is when I just can’t write. I can’t figure out how to make what’s in my head into scenes on a page. I have no interest in writing what comes next.
Recently when I was going through this, I skipped around. I decided I would write the scenes I would enjoy writing. And I’d fill everything else in alter. I started writing scenes that make me feel. And I feel like this part of my story is coming alive.
Here are some other suggestions for breaking through writer’s block:
*First off, you need to sit down and show up to write every day. Even if you only write a sentence.
* Introduce a new character and see where it takes you.
* Write something else, a poem or a blog post just to shake it up.
* Go for a walk where there are other people. Observe those people. Write a scene for what’s going on around you.
* Write only dialogue and forget about everything else.
* Write a dream like sequence that summarizes the scene you are trying to write then move on from it.
*Kill one of your characters.
* Send someone to Tokyo
* Visit the Young Writer’s Program and use their dare machine to give you some random plot ideas.
What do you do for writer’s block?
Are you in the middle of a marathoning NaNoWriMo writing session? Or just enjoying watching your Facebook friends struggle to meet some sort of almost impossible word goal for the month while you decide to purposefully not write anything in November, not even Tweet? Or maybe you’re just tired of reading about me talking about writing so often (if that’s the case, you’re reading the wrong blog, sweetheart). No matter what your situation is I have some links to share that might get you through your writing slump and back into the marathon.
Why Sara Zarr is inspired by failure
The creative process, and the creative life, is mostly full of moments between the idea and the being done, the spark and the blazing fire, the shimmering magic and the finished piece. We’re always living in the gap between our vision of what could be and what might be, and what is.
Don’t Avoid Painful Writing
We must reveal that part of ourselves that we’d rather hide. But this is the part of you we’re all longing to see.
Learn From The Greats: 7 Writing Habits of Amazing Writers
6. James Joyce. In the pantheon of great writers of the last century, Joyce looms large. And while more prolific writers set themselves a word or page limit, Joyce prided himself in taking his time with each sentence. A famous story has a friend asking Joyce in the street if he’d had a good day writing. Yes, Joyce replied happily. How much had he written? Three sentences, Joyce told him.
How to Flourish in Your Writing
Always have great kindness for yourself. Look over your shoulder: there is no one there. No one cares if you write. It has to come from you, from your effort. There is no hierarchy in writing; you elbow your way into the lineage by your human effort. It is democratic and should be in the declaration of independence—the right to liberty, justice, the pursuit of happiness, and writing. Only human beings write. Clouds don’t, ants don’t.
It’s November again, and in case you aren’t sure what that means, it means the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. It means this is when thousands of writers lock themselves in their offices and bedrooms after their work days and write a novel with the goal of reaching 50,000 words written in the month of November alone. Once again I am attempting this goal, working with a novel in process to make it into a novel that’s finished (at least, the first draft anyway).
This marks my 6th attempt at the 50,000 word goal, one that I only reached as a Sophomore in college in 2004. This year I do plan to win. What do you get when you win, you ask? Well, the satisfaction of knowing you completed it, and a certificate you can print out. And maybe, if you want, you can buy yourself a NaNoWriMo t-shirt that declares you a winner.
Lots of writers have different opinions about NaNo, varying from supporting it to disapproving. Here’s the one thing they everyone must remember if they’re setting out to write a novel in a month: you’re writing a first draft. And it’s going to suck. Sure some parts might be good, but mostly it’s going to be a lot of crap to wade through and stuff you need to edit. That’s how writing works. And you need to forget about editing for November. Just write. Get the gunk out, find some gems, challenge yourself and just write. That’s what’s important this month.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month? If you want to friend me on the NaNo site, you can click here.
(The fact that it’s November also means that it’s almost my birthday! On the 12th I’ll be another year older. Does anyone have any birthday rituals? Every year for me is different.)
There are times when I need to give myself permission to not do things. I need to stop and take the time to realize that hey, maybe I’m going a little bit overboard here with trying to write. Maybe a goal of three posts a week is not ideal. Not because three is a lot. It isn’t. But because striving to write and publish a certain amount of anything in a certain given time is more likely to write to get it done, and not write to say something that I really feel the need to express.
I quit my second job, one that I loved, because I was working too much. I miss scooping ice cream for regulars and concocting perfect, creative sundaes. But that time was needed elsewhere.
So what I needed to realize is that, part of the reason that I feel overwhelmed and stressed out in my post-work “free time” is because writing. is. work. Even if I don’t want it to be. It’s hard work. It takes a lot of time and sometimes research. It’s thought-draining and mind tiring. I need to have something to say, and I need to say it well. I need to remember to edit and rewrite if need be. Blogging is harder. I’m working for an audience that I do not know, but I am aware that there is one as soon as I hit the publish button. I need to look for pictures and keep a consistent voice.
I love writing. I really, really do. I’ve loved it since I was in second grade and there has never been a time when I’ve thought that I didn’t. But I have thought to myself, I’m so tired of working. Of coming home and feeling like I need to work even more. Work for something that isn’t guaranteed. Sit and brainstorm ideas. And then I realized that I am not planning to be a professional blogger. Insert a huge, instant sigh of relief. I don’t HAVE to do this.
And that actually make a huge difference in anything. You may have noticed the lack of posts. I’ve been sick and anxious and extra gross feeling from taking penicillin. That’s not really relevant to this post, though, so moving on… I have been writing. I’ve been filling Moleskines with my own thoughts, I’ve been making lists of my own accord. I’ve been thinking of blog posts and writing them down. Then I start to wonder, what’s the point? Or I start to think that my initial posts are pointless. That no one wants to hear what I have to say. I start drowning in my own thoughts. Who cares about Things I Love, when sometimes I feel like even I don’t even care?
And then Lorelle writes this blog post. About how she goes long stretches without writing anything down. She can’t force herself to write. It just doesn’t make sense to her. I know that sitting down to write, finding the discipline is important. It’s important, at least, if you are getting paid. It’s important if you have deadlines.
She says, “I have found that it doesn’t matter if I become a writer or not. Becoming a writer is no longer my goal in life. ” But Lorelle, you are already a writer, whether or not you are paid for it. You are a writer by why you do, not how often or how well. You are a writer because you put your words out there for someone to read. Even if it’s just me. You are a writer because you write, even if it isn’t your profession.
And this is exactly why I love to blog. Because I’m not a professional blogger, but that doesn’t matter to me. It matters that I am putting words and thoughts out into this universe on a schedule that works with me. It matters that I know that someone out there reads one sentence of mine.
Keep a diary, but don’t just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It’s great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.
- John Berendt
For some reason I tend to be good at making references that I assume someone might know, and they have no idea what I’m talking about. This is specifically in reference to two recent times I quoted “Finding Nemo” and received blank stares (for lack of a better description, both of these instances were not face to face but using typing). I guess when I respond to something with, “His son, Fabio,” I should not be surprised that no one has any idea what I’m talking about.
My other example, however, illustrates one of the many reasons that I love Dory. She is insistent that she “just keep swimming”. She gets through her days with that song she sings.
I feel like I have nothing to say. In truth I’ve written about four half posts in the past two days. They were all Christmas related and I sort of burned myself out. I feel like maybe no one cares about my Christmas related posts. I feel like I’m trying too hard. I’m not displaying myself. I’m bring and unoriginal.
I briefly had the thought today that I should just close this blog down.
Seconds after this was thought, however, I mentally told myself to shut up.
I have no interest in stopping writing. I know that in the future I’ll only regret not posting words today. It was just yesterday that my boss went out of her way to tell me that I am a good writer. So why give up? There is no reason. Except that I can be lazy. I get overwhelmed. I forget that if I give up the fight, I come out with nothing.
And so, I need to just keep on swimming through, finding my words and topics as I go. Just keep writing. There’s nothing else to it. So what if someone who is reading this doesn’t really care? Ignore the fact that I feel like I have nothing real to say. Just keep writing. Everything else will work itself out.
Someone has been bugging me via email to update my blog, or finish the short story I’m working on. Apparently I chose to update Melanie.Kristy. It’s a lot easier to write posts while at work than it is to engage myself in a story. Fear not, I (think) am almost finished with the story I’ve been working on. It’s the first in my serious attempt to write short stories. I need to get myself into the habit of writing. And working out. And eating better and… and… and.
So the plan for today is to go to Borders or Starbucks after work and write more. Then get dinner with a few people I know from work.
Tomorrow: writing or working out. I don’t get out until 7pm though, so I feel like writing is more likely to happen.
Friday: writing then Zumba at 430. This could change.
Saturday: I tend to work too much to really do anything. And in between shifts I relax.
I think I’m going to take this Sunday, not make any plans with anyone and write a lot and make future plans for myself. This whole planning thing is NOT my forte. Sure, I’m great at writing out lists of what I need to do, or what I’m going to do in order to get things done. But actually following plans I just can’t seem to do. There’s a huge mental block that consists of me not wanting to feel like I’m stuck with any sort of restrictions or limits on myself.
How do you feel about making plans? Do you feel like going by these plans you’re stuck?