I'm really excited to have this guest post by Allegra Newman, the author with P.C. Trauth of 365 Things to Write About. It's a simple system to help you write, and is available in Kindle format. Check out Allegra's website and Facebook page as well for great ideas to write about (jelly wiggles?). Keep reading for the giveaway, I think you'll be very pleased.
When I was a teenager, journaling reinforced my goal to be a writer. I scribbled countless poems and story ideas into my entries, convinced that when I graduated from school, I would finally have all the time in the world to focus on writing them. What a lovely dream that was…
It gradually disappeared within a year of graduating college. Working a “practical” job didn’t leave many free hours for writing novels and poems, although technically at my job, I was creating stories…from endless hours of camera footage for reality television shows where families traded their wives and husbands or hired famous chefs to revamp their ailing restaurants. Not exactly the quality writing I’d been aiming for when I fantasized about being a writer, but it paid the bills.
Unfortunately, journaling also took a backseat to twelve-hour days in edit bays, re-working scenes to be more dramatic. I’ll write tomorrow, I’d assure myself as I tiredly climbed into bed every night. Then the next evening, I would find myself making the same false promise. Let’s just say it is a black-letter day when you realize that you’ve been writing in the same 120-page journal for two and a half years. It becomes even more depressing when a lame attempt to pen ONE descriptive sentence takes SIX hours.
This January, I confronted my old pals, procrastination and denial, and ended our ten-year relationship. I had switched career paths to have more time for pursuing my creative interests, and I was committed to putting that plan in action – which was easier said than done. Where colorful scenes and characters once poured effortlessly from my head onto the page, now sputtered lame, monochromatic sentences like “I was upset so I got in my car and drove around town.”
It was embarrassing. My vocabulary had dwindled to generic, one-syllable words. In my mind, I could recall a hot, sticky summer in the South, but when I tried to translate that image on paper, my brain drew a big blank. If I was going to write again, I needed a way to jumpstart my creative flow. Taking another artist’s advice, I took up journaling again, but this time, I forced myself to get up half an hour earlier every morning to write in a spiral notebook I’d found in the closet. Instead of perusing Huffington Post while I chugged coffee, I made myself fill three pages with whatever was on my mind at 6am. Surprisingly, I usually found I had more to say at that ungodly hour than I ever had when I wrote in the evenings.
Journaling got me writing something, but it was a cup of coffee which helped me to come up with a method for challenging myself to write better. One morning while I impatiently waited for the pot to brew, I found myself scrawling almost a page’s worth of words about the scalding, black liquid which would soon fill my favorite ceramic mug. Intrigued, I tried the exercise again the next day and brought my living room to life on paper. And that was my “Eureka!” moment. I thought about the various stories I’ve read in books or watched in movies where everyday objects or places become characters – a garden cultivated by a young girl, a tumultuous climb up Mt. Everest, or a spider that saves a terrific pig from becoming bacon. The smallest things in our lives have the potential to become the greatest stories of all time.Each day since, I’ve challenged myself to write whatever I want about one thing. Instead of laboring over the perfect words to convey a story or poem, I let go and allow the object, person, or place to invoke the scene I set on the page. Are my efforts helping me to write? Well, between May and June, I penned 150 pages of a story which I started eight years ago and never got around to finishing…but it looks like that might be possible now. I can’t say it’s always easy, but I’m having fun and enjoying the art of writing again, which is why I loved doing it in the first place.
Allegra has donated a copy of 365 Things to Write About for a giveaway at Pocket Blonde, which starts today (Wednesday) with this post and ends Sunday noon EST. I'll pick a random winner using a random number generator, and will post the entry at 5 pm. You'll have one week to get in touch with me to claim your prize (diane.fennelATgmail.com). Shipping will be by media mail.
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