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Archive for the ‘Today’s Special’ Category

Stream-of-Consciousness Writing

17 Nov

How do you write 750 words a day? 50 words at a time.

Writing 50 words is easy. So 750 words should be easy if you write a series of 50 word vignettes. Whether there is a thread running through to link them altogether or not is irrelevant when it comes to free flowing content, but riffing on a theme would help train your brain to spout on any topic you throw at it.

And let’s not kid ourselves, think what you want of writing, be it art, science, pseudo-science, or mystical calling, it is a trainable exercise that works our brains, eyes and fingers. Your eyes and fingers will take care of themselves as you write, long-hand or at the typewriter (or keyboard as the kids call it now-a-days), but your brain takes a little more effort.

I have always believed that the more and varied exercises you perform, the more nimble you become. This goes equally well for your body as it does for your mind. Repetitive motions and efforts are fine to turn a single, or small group of actions into subconscious habit, but ‘mixing it up’ will enable you to move and think more nimbly and be better equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.

If you want to write, then write, write, write, but don’t forget to read, read, read, do crosswords, play sudoko, and read famous quotes, try translating the language on your food wrappers even if you don’t know the first thing about it (It’s usually French up here in Canada and we all know a little about it, so give it a go!) The point is, don’t ever relax, don’t stop to pat yourself on the back, don’t rest on your… anything.

My wife and I homeschool our children. One of the big things that I have relearned through this experience over the past few years, is every moment is an opportunity for learning, or training. And if you are not doing either, you are sliding backwards. There is no neutral, there is no, stop. Life is an uphill journey, and if you stop moving, you slide back down the mountainside.

And don’t discount physical exercise either. This morning I ran through about 3/4′s of the P90X X-stretch, I love the series and highly recommend it to people who want to get horribly fit, quickly, because I had been getting more and more stiff over the past week and fighting headaches. After 40 minutes of hardcore neck and upper torso exercises I couldn’t wait to sit down and have at my keyboard again as my mind began whirring through the things I wanted to do, and say.

Keep the channels open, exercise to complement your writing habit and you will be surprised at how quickly the words will begin to fly.

This is one of the bigger reasons that I decided to challenge myself to signup for 750words.com. It’s not that I need help writing, I already write. But it is a focal point and is all about stream-of-consciousness writing, which I don’t do enough of. It’s not like writing a news column to elucidate some important societal point, or even like a typical blog post designed and well-thought-out beforehand in order to provide value and gain readership, it’s just simple and it’s practice.

It’s a way to train your brain to riff. I still want to provide value, and I still want to elucidate… and will continue to write typical articles and blog posts. But I also want to think and write nimbly.

Let’s think about a practical application of what I’m talking about. Writers block. Had it? People who write like to moan about it. Google returns tens of millions of results where writers are discussing it (because bloggers ARE writers too). Personally – knock-on-wood – I’ve never encountered it, at least as the Force of Nature that people talk about.

Writers block is the inability to write because of some thing other than a lack of commitment or basic lack of communication skills. I think a lot of the issue with writers block stems from a basic perception of inferiority – after all, the better we become at any skill, the easier it is to see all the things we don’t yet know, and the more aware we become of doing things the wrong way (“Damn it! Was I supposed to use a comma to separate that noun from it’s restrictive term of identification!?!”) the more fearful and hesitant we may become, to write.

Personally, I welcome the fear of using punctuation incorrectly, because it indicates growth. We will always become aware of the rules we are breaking before we become adept at not breaking them.

And I believe regular stream-of-consciousness writing can help. Give yourself a topic, and write. Don’t worry about the rules, don’t worry about the grammar, just write. Try to keep it on topic, or let your brain take you on it’s own course. But write. You will thank yourself when you get half way through your next story, or novel, and are faced with a plot problem that you can’t see your way around – just take a simple angle at it, close your article, or story, grab a notepad, or text editor, and write. Let your brain steer you through. You may or may not actually use the content in the end, but I’ll be you get something good out of it.

hmm… my 750 words seem to turn into 1000 words everyday. I better sign off for today and get back to my NaNoWriMo story.

Until tomorrow, good luck with the writing everyone!

 

The Start of Something Grand

16 Nov

StartThis fall… really, over the past couple of weeks, I have made a few commitments to myself regarding my writing. Primary, is the fact that I need to write more.

Starting today, I will be writing daily a minimum of 750 words. Actually, I wrote 3k words yesterday for NaNoWriMo, so I suppose I had already started.

I also believe in the power of free writing, and journaling. First, practice makes perfect, but also, it helps to have a no-holds-barred venue to write in. Just like an Opera singer would never go out on stage without performing vocal exercises, and an athlete would never hit the court/track/rink/whatever without first stretching and warming up, neither should a writer write without tapping into the unconscious first.

Today I signed up for 750words. It’s just a tool to help keep you motivated. You can type in your 750 daily into your account and take a monthly challenge (30 days forms a habit!) and it will hassle you if you miss days.

For the most part, what goes into 750words stays in 750words by the looks of it, but I’d like to share my todays, first, post with all of you.

I’m not sure if I’ll be copying my 750 word brain dump every day, but I may once in a while.

Without further adieu, today’s article is ‘The Start’. This is meant as a free-flow, stream of consciousness writing.

 

Ferrari 750 Scaglietti Spider

Ferrari 750

Okay, here I go. I have joined the site 750words and will be writing daily from now on. No exceptions. Come rain or shine, health or sickness, peace or trauma – what I want to do, is write every. single. day. for the rest of my life. This is it. There was a line, and I have just stepped over it. It was on a bridge and I just burned it. When I’m done I am going to post it.

I am in my 30′s, so if I pull off 750 words per day, for ever anon, then I am looking down the barrel of a gun loaded with more than 13 million words… and that’s just the warm up. Shit that thought is strangely invigorating!

750 words does not seem like much but I can image that it may become difficult getting all those characters out of your head on a daily basis. See, only 50 words so far, a mere 1/15th of the way there, and I am already worried about the word count…

Yesterday I wrote 3000 words towards my new novel, being written as part of NaNoWriMo, 2012. I really wanted to participate, but lost track of the start of the contest and found myself 1/2 way through and facing a decision: Wait until next year, again, or haul ass and see what I can pull off in 2 weeks.

It is highly unlikely that I’ll make the required 50k words in the 16 days I have left to me, a commitment of almost 3000 words daily, but I decided that the effort is worth it, regardless of whether i make the deadline or not. The point is, I won’t stop at the deadline – NaNoWriMo is just an excuse to do that thing I’ve always wanted to do.

Of course, if I do somehow manage to pull of a final-second Hail Mary pass down the left hand side of the pitch (how’s that for mixed metaphors!) then I will do a happy dance for a week. I am already dreaming about future interviews where I can say, “Well Jane, I wrote my first 50k word novel in a mere 2 weeks”. Not that I am nearly as pretentious as all that.

For as long as I can remember, writing is what I wanted to do. And I have, written that is. But I haven’t made any effort to show off my work, or pursue it in anyway. I just like to jot occasional notes in my journals, which I then put back on a shelf. But that is not what I wanted. I wanted to publish. I wanted to hold a book in my hand that had my name down the spine: VALIANT – hell! I even have the name for fiction, esp. fantasy – and I can write, so I should be a shoe-in!

So why have I not pushed this? Why have I always treated it as a ‘someday’ vocation, ideal, dream? I wish I knew, but I have theories…

First of all, I think I am a pretty unmotivated guy. I have always thought of myself as ‘accommodating of others’ or ‘easy going’ but I am beginning to see the dark side of this attitude – why did it take so long? bah! – the dark side of course is, ‘GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING BUSTER!’

I WANT to do things from a big picture point of view, and I occasionally do too. But mostly, at any given moment in time, I’d rather read, or play video games, which I find horribly addictive, or watch movies, or play with my kids, or build stuff out of wood, or whatever…

I think the second big stumbling block for me has always been a lack of self confidence… a painful lack. Coupled with painful shyness and it is amazing I survived high school really! I have come a long way over the past 10 or 15 years, but that shy, un-confident kid-that-I-was, will never really go away completely.

… and maybe a fear of looking like a dumbass. Which is way worse than a simple fear of failure by the way. The fear of looking like a dumbass IS the fear of Failure, but coupled with the fear of looking like a Dumbass… in front of Others. Which totally sucks. The famous quote “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you a fool, than open it and prove them right,” has always stuck with me, and I have lived by it to a large extent, consciously or otherwise. I hate asking questions, I hate looking like I don’t know something, I hate not being perfect.

And sometimes, these stoopid fears keep me from doing the things that I really want to do.

But, another thing I really hate is Regret. Being shy and self-conscious as a kid kept me from doing some of the things I wish I had done. Now-a-days, I hold those regrets close as reminders. Never open the door to regret, it’s a terrible bedfellow.

So with a simple reminder, to myself, that I do not want to get old and not have written is all I needed to hatch an action plan – Write. Every. Day.

I would love to be published… but I may never be. I would love to finish 40 novels, but I probably won’t. I would love to make a difference in somebody’s life using the power of the written word, but I likely never will.

But one thing I can do, is write. From now, until ever, this is a beginning, and I look forward to the ride.

#NotesToMyself