Tag Archives: Writing

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.

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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.

Writing in a World that Never Sleeps

As an undergraduate, I commuted to college and was able to maintain some distance between work and home. Now that I live on campus, these two worlds are increasingly intertwined. Emails flow in at all hours on a multitude of projects. Peers must be communicated with or progress stalls. Some people really never turn their phone off. They allow themselves to be interrupted constantly from whatever it is they’re doing, thinking, even saying. This kills writing.

To write, one must be solitary. Alone with a pen and a story, and alone with nothing to do but wonder about your characters and think of the tales you have to tell. Social media and other phone-based gadgets have become space-fillers. Once upon a time (15 years ago), people had blank space in their lives. Waiting in line. Riding a bus. Watching a pot that won’t boil. Those blank spaces are when the mind gets back in touch with itself, and starts wandering through stories. They’re important for writing.

Writers shouldn’t be alone all the time or even most of the time, but they need to have time to process ideas. If you don’t have it, make it. Take a moment to unhook and unwind, and consider what’s important to you. Then, write about it!

Busy Busy Writer

College has a way of messing with your writing life. Classes and encounters with people of differing opinions give writers a rich palette to draw from, while homework encroaching on all sides makes it difficult to sit down and put words on the page of a non-required document.

Writers need to be up and about, among people, interacting with the world. But to really be too busy is death to a writer. Too much stimulus and no time to process results in many good ideas that are never allowed to develop into stories. There’s a balance somewhere between being a hermit who writes all day every day (could anyone manage that without going insane?) and being so busy all the time that to write is to choose to let something important fall by the wayside.

We all have time for what we really want to do. Make writing a part of your day, and let something else go, if it’s that important to you. If it’s not, get out there and enjoy life! Maybe a memoir is more up your alley.

Grow a Story

When stories are starting out, they’re tender and undeveloped, susceptible to any hint of criticism and any suggestion about the path they should travel. An untold story needs to be protected by its author, kept out of the light until it’s strong enough to survive on its own.

During this period, no one has the right to get between an author and their story, to disturb the almost sacred process by which the details of plot and character come into being. Anything can kill a story at this point, and to kill a story before it’s even had a chance is murder. Not only that, but to suck the juice of life from a new story damages the confidence of the author. Who knows how many pages die when one new idea has lost its magic in the eyes of its creator.

I still don’t believe writing can be taught, despite taking numerous writing classes. These help a little, but the meat of writing is learned from reading. Anyway, take a storytelling class. Instruct the students to tell you their story before they write it out, to plan out their plot structure like an architect, to release an unformed blob of ideas dripping with creativity into the hands of an editor. This isn’t the way to write something worth reading.

Good stories drag their authors along as they’re written. They’re not preplanned. (At least, I could never stick to a structure while writing. Plans are for ignoring when characters disagree.) Stories should be hidden and protected like a sprout in a greenhouse, never revealed until they’re fully fleshed out with a strong skeleton and leaves and maybe some flower buds. Only after a full first draft has been written is your story maybe, maybe, ready to see the world.

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‘Course, they say never to show anyone your first draft, because the deserved criticism will crush your soul. I ignored that advice. Had the criticism come any earlier in its development, my story likely never would have seen the light of day. But after a first draft? You can take it.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” -Stephen King

Get writing!