Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Try this. Now.

Today is the National Day on Writing. You can go here to see testimonials from writers on why they write or here to join the fun and submit your own writing.

Or, you can do this:

Do not read ahead in these directions.

1. Get a pen or pencil or crayon and some paper or cardboard or parchment. Don't pick them up yet. Just leave them in reach.

2. Check the time. Give yourself 15 minutes. What's 15 minutes?! You'll do your daily 15 minute "Man, I worship Jacqui" dance twice tomorrow.

3. Now, think of that story you've always thought about writing. I don't care if you're not a writer. We all have a story to tell. Plus, you're not going to write the great American novel in 15 minutes, so who cares? If you are a writer, I know there's one in there that scares you because it's not your genre or it's too personal or too hard to pull off. Don't worry about all of that. Just think of the story.

4. Imagine this: the story is already written. You already did all the work. I have it here, in front of me. Doesn't that feel good. I look at it. I read the first line. Hmm. What is the first line? Write it down. Don't think about it. I don't care if it stinks. We are going to shred this and hide it under the coffee grounds in the trash when you're done. C'mon, it's ONE sentence. Write it.

5. Oh, that's intriguing. I must know more. What are the next two sentences? Write them down. What's that? You don't know what to say. Yes, you do. The first line's already written. Just tell me what comes next. Don't worry about craft; remember the coffee grounds.

6. Keep writing. Don't lift your pen from the paper until those 15 minutes are up. I don't care if you think your spelling or your handwriting stinks or if you haven't written anything but checks since high school. I don't care if you write the worst story ever written in the history of stories. Just keep writing. Don't read #7 until 15 minutes are done.

7. When 15 minutes are over, stop. Shred the paper and hide it under the coffee grounds. Or maybe don't. Maybe save it and tomorrow, write for 15 more minutes. Maybe hide a secret notebook that you carry on your person so nobody can find it. Write while you wait in the car line at your kid's school, when you get to the dryer and it still has five more minutes, and while you're waiting for your prescription -- all of a sudden you have 15 minutes a day. Don't think about publishing it or what the audience is or if it meets certain standards. Just write it like you used to write your diary. Write "Do Not Read This Even If I Die! I Mean It!" on the cover. That's what mine says, anyway.

No, seriously. Just try it. And happy National Day on Writing.


cath c said...

thanks! i'm off!

WordWrangler said...

Great idea! Getting started is the first step. I love that today is National Writing day. I need to make sure I participate. If I don't, it would be like the groundhog refusing to make an appearance on Groundhog's day! (hmmm...bad example. But you get the idea!)


Anonymous said...

So many times, I would buy a journal for my mother so she could "write" her story but she never did-she didn't have the right pen, the 1st sentence wasn't good enough, she didn't know how to use the (later) tape recorder,etc. And then it was too late.

Amber Lough said...

Thank you, Jacqui. I would not have written at all today if I hadn't stumbled into your blog and read this post. And now, I DID.

Hmm. This is the second time this has happened, isn't it?

Jacqui said...

cath and Amber, hope you had fun!

WordWrangler, getting started is always my hardest part.

Anonymous, exactly. Which is why we need to write our stories while we can, I think.

C.R. Evers said...

I'll have to try this . . . maybe tonight after the kiddo's go to bed.

Vijaya said...

Yes! This is why I love my cheapie composition notebook.