“When I worked at the Harvard Writing Center, I joked that the single most useful piece of equipment for a writer was a bucket of glue. First you spread some on your chair, and then you sit down.” -Joan Bolker
So one of the things that is stressing me out the most about trying to be a professional writer is that there are some days I don’t…well…write. I read and dabble in this and that, I might think about the stories I have ideas for or read other peoples’ story ideas, I might post on the conversation board about writing, but don’t actually, physically, sit down and write.
This is a problem for several different reasons. Firstly, I will never improve my writing without practice. I will never get the voice of my characters (or even me as a character, I guess) just the way I want them without that voice becoming as fluid to my fingertips as my own coming out of my mouth. Secondly, I will never make any money as a writer if I don’t finish things and submit them. I can have thirteen stories or essays or blogs going at once but never submit anything, and wonder why I’m not making any money. Hm, I wonder. The third issue with not writing is that I am quite ashamed, on most days, to even call myself a writer. You can’t be a dancer if you don’t dance, an actor if you don’t act, and a singer if you don’t sing. The same is true of writing.
So I’ve decided to try something that might work. Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble, where they charge a ridiculous about of money to use the wireless internet (so I didn’t have distractions), and stayed at the table in the cafe until I had written at least a thousand words on my story. If I can force myself to write at least a thousand words every day, I might get a little less stressed about this whole writing as a career thing. I will certainly get into more of a groove and routine that I will need to keep and stay strict to during school. Tonight I have no feeling for the story, I have hit a plot wall, so I’m not going to spend my thousand words on that. I will spend it elsewhere. I’ve already spent about 400 here, although I don’t think it counts to use precious words describing the fact that I am counting words.
I’m thinking about getting together a prompt database that will hold a lot of writing prompts that I think are interesting that I might want to use sometime. I have three excellent books already in my possession that are good for this – The Writer’s Block, a cute little box-shaped book with spark words and prompt ideas in it, A Picture is Worth 1000 Words, that uses photos as jumping-off points for stories, and The Write Brain Workbook, a little book that actually has blank space on the pages for exercises but exchanges white space that a lot of workbooks contain for colorful photos and illustrations. I don’t always go to these books for help but they are certainly useful when I have no other choice.
After all, I still have 500 words to write today and no ideas of my own.
I hope this little exercise will work for me. I can remind my husband to hold me accountable all I want, but it won’t work in the end if I don’t glue myself to my seat.