Tag Archives: Writing

Write a Letter

To an old friend:

Remember how often we’d write to each other, pen-pal? Your letters stamped from exotic places, arriving in the mailbox on sunny mornings. I would trot down the driveway to check the mail, sometimes disappointed with impersonal printed business, sometimes cheered with a wrapped message that promised to be a delight to read.

Remember how easily the words came in those days, before there was such thing as a word count, a “good story”, structure, and grammar? Pooh. In those days there were books. In those days we told each other true stories, and wide-eyed we’d read them like the most gripping young-adult novel, except- these were real, written just for us, for our eyes only.

We wrote to each other. We wrote freely, as we were moved to. Unsupervised, unrequired writing, pure joy. Before I knew that “it’s” isn’t possessive, and before I knew what paragraphs are good for. It didn’t matter. I learned, and my letters were plenty readable.

For years I wrote to you. You wrote to me. Preferring paper and pen to face-to-face talk, I would wander the hillside like Frederick the mouse, gathering colors and sounds, images of plants in the sunshine. I would bring them back, in my mind, my camera, my words. Forest air in my lungs, forest dirt on my boots, blackberry scratches on my knees, sweat on my forehead. Alone, I would gather words for my next letter, and when pen met paper I would tell you stories of the places I’d been.

Write back soon!

Love,
Your Pen-Pal

Advertisements

Jazz Up Your Writing with a New Font

Feel like your writing is getting a bit stale? Writing in a new font is a sure way to freshen up your writing and get those creative juices flowing. A font itself can be a story – mysterious and simpletall and elegant,  hastily scrawled,distant and inhuman. Any reader who sees your font will get a sense of your tale even before they read a word.

If you have a story you want to tell and are having some trouble, go font-shopping! Find the font that tells your story for you and enjoy typing out the words with your newfound paintbrush. Or maybe you’ve no story in mind, and the font itself will inspire a new beginning. Typing with a fresh font is downright fun.

There are multiple places to find free fonts online, but the best I’ve found has to be Google Fonts. Go enjoy the elegant interface, pick up a few new brushes, and get typing!

Harvesting Stories

Put your pen to the paper, right now, and think up a story. Use your imagination. Shouldn’t this be easy for a storyteller like you?

Maybe, but only if you know how to go about it. There’s a common misconception that storytellers invent their stories, when in reality we are only translators. We take in and observe the details of life—the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, memories, reactions, expressions, and connections—and write from experience. Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves are nearly unrecognizable compared with our own experience, but deep down, in thought or in theme, even our fiction comes from the heart.

Stories are harvested more than created, like a fruit salad. The ingredients may come from many different places, but they’re certainly not conjured up out of nothing. If you find yourself unable to “think up” a story (or unable to bring a fruit salad into existence by sheer willpower), that doesn’t mean you’re out of creativity! It means you need ingredients for your salad. Focus on what you have: memory. And write what’s important to you.

For more ideas about writing from your experience, check out this great little article by Richard on CreateSpace. But before you go, take a minute and put yourself back into a memory. Harvest the details, and write!

Writing Just for Fun

If you don’t feel a thrill tingle through you when you see a blank page, try again.

“Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.” -C.S. Lewis

Think of the possibilities a blank page holds. Forget about word counts, forget about readers, and write for pure joy.

Repeat.

Only One Story

I’ve long been a proponent of cranking out words and upping your word count. That’s what writers do, right? Keep writing, and you’re bound to come up with something good among all those keystrokes.

This approach definitely works sometimes and for some writers, but there are other approaches too, and these can be refreshing. I was talking with a writer friend recently who reminded me that some writers have a limited number of stories inside them. Indeed, many authors like Harper Lee of To Kill a Mockingbird fame only published one book, and found success.

It was a relief to me to consider the idea that a writer has a limited number of stories to tell. After my first NaNoWriMo success, I’ve been disappointed with my other attempts partly because I see myself telling the same story all over again. But perhaps this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s because that one story is my story. Maybe it’s my only story. And that’s all right.

Lesson of the day: don’t force it. Sometimes, forcing a story or word count is helpful, but in the end, writing has to feel natural to read natural. You don’t need to write a billion words to be a successful writer, unless that’s your thing. Only one story told well, in a way that pleases you, is enough.

Write it Out

When the clouds have gathered and the sun won’t shine
and the power’s gone
and thunder is rumbling
grab a pen
and write it out.

When everything sparkles with new fallen snow
a million diamonds
cleaner than stardust
grab a keyboard
and write it out.

When seagulls take off
with your hat
and your lunch
and your sandals
and your notepad
reconsider feeding the seagulls
grab some driftwood
and write it out.

When you have no pen
or paper
or keyboard
or sand and driftwood
go shopping
then write it out.

Write Short and Sweet

Having trouble getting back to writing? Maybe you’re just not sure where to start, or writing a novel seems way too big a project to take on. Life is hectic, no doubt about it. If you’re worried about your word count, try making writing easier for yourself. Writing short and sweet is both easier than writing long (and sour?) and it’s good practice for getting your idea and message across in a short amount of time and space.

Have a novel to write? Try starting with 500 words. Have a message to get out there? Maybe try 200. Have a seemingly unbeatable word count to tackle? Every finished manuscript begins with a few keystrokes.

Write short, write sweet, have fun! Your unique perspective deserves to be heard. And let yourself go when the words are flowing out. Many writers make their craft harder for themselves than it needs to be, but at its core, writing is as easy as a kid drawing on the sidewalk, as simple as yesterday. Yes, it can take thought and effort and nose-to-the-grindstone work… but not today.

Just type the keys and let memory and imagination flow.