Yesterday in a moment of what can only be described as New Year’s onset optimism, I did something I never do. I joined a group, I accepted a challenge, I took on a crusade for creativity and I vowed to write 500 words a day for 31 days. Let’s make it 40 for good measure.
One would think this would be no big deal for a writer. But it’s a very big deal.
While the final draft may look effortlessly articulate, there are all kinds of cutting and pasting, digressing and regressing, mindless snacking, obsessive dusting, and possibly a nap or dog walk going on before the publish button ever gets pushed.
In other words, the process isn’t pretty and it isn’t quick, which sums up why there were so few posts by me in 2013. Well, that and the audit/dishwasher debacle described in my last post.
But it is a new year and if ever there was a time to change my ways, it is today!
The trick to writing 500 words a day is to write fast and to write freely. The trouble is as soon as ten words come out, five of them change their minds, three want to boss the other ones around, and two think they are a complete sentence.
The truth is I have plenty to say at all times about all things. The rub is that most of it is repetitive and habitual and often critical and judging instead of fresh, open, curious, or accepting. Of course I can edit out all that ruckus and riff-raff so none of us arrive at that conclusion, but it takes considerable time and effort getting there.
Two years ago I came up with a plan to write down the ideas that had shaped my thinking and then write a short essay to accompany them in a book called A Penny For Your Thoughts. I planned to give the book to my friends and followers on my birthday.
Coming up with the ideas was a cinch. Even making a short video introducing them when I had no idea how to make a short video was incredibly energizing. Making A Penny For Your Thoughts business cards and handing them out all over Alaska and the Yukon was a hoot.
But then something happened. The birthday passed, the trip was over, and the motivation behind the movement evaporated overnight. The same old doubt that used to rob me of all meaning surfaced once again. The notorious battle cry of “Who cares anyway?” kicked in and kicked my butt. Needless to say, the project stalled.
This doubt took on the physical form of an IRS agent who showed up and declared I was not a writer and could not claim office supplies or trips to writing workshops as a tax deductions.
Now I’ve lived long enough to know that things are not always what they seem. Maybe this person was actually a “noble friend” sent to incite an outpouring of revenge writing. You know, the “I’ll show you I can write!” kind of reaction.
Until we are moved by something ourselves, it’s hard to move anyone else. Although I would have preferred to have been catalyzed by compassion or rocked by a refund, outrage also works. No one is really inspired by someone who hasn’t had a trial or two.
So here’s the deal. For the next 40 days I’m going to write like a banshee. I’m going to introduce you to the ideas behind A Penny For Your Thoughts and attempt to flesh out the essays. The writing will undoubtedly be rough, a little raw, and possibly raunchy since I’ve been known to swear when I get worked up or write poetry.
It will be an unprecedented output, so if it’s too much information or a shock to your operating system (since you’ve only received 6 posts in the past year!), I won’t be offended if you temporarily or selectively stop reading.
However, if you stay with me, I guarantee we’ll learn a thing or two about each other.
But for the record, I already think you’re swell.
Okay, now for our theme song (because every crusade needs one). You can change the words, “I would walk 500 miles” to “I would read 500 words” and I’ll change them to “I would write 500 words”.
If you have no idea what I’m referring to, click here and listen. Then sing along.
See you tomorrow.