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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!

 

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