Saturday, March 7, 2015

500 Ways to Get Out of a Rut

My 500 Words

Goins, Writer, has a challenge out: 500 words a day for 31 days. He insists good writers write, and bad writers don't do the work. Bad writers are afraid, good writers stay humble, and write past fear. Bad writers are perfectionists, good writers work on their problems. This challenge is an attempted force on the hand of discipline.

I know I do not write enough, and to make it worse, my subject matter tends to be repeated ad-nauseum. I fear I am becoming one-dimensional. The joys of life, and the hard things in it, tend to distract me. My ability to write well is stunted, and I know this. Do I carve out time for myself? Nope. I'm too tired, I've chosen busyness, and I excuse myself from the work, every day.

I'd love to proclaim, as The Writers suggest, that I will do this! I will write 500 words a day, every day! Prepare yourself for an onslaught of blog posts!

In truth, I'm not sure what I'll do with it. I like this challenge, and I'm clinging to the hope I'll work my way through it. But really, I don't know. If I write every day, pure mathematics suggest that with my limited time and frazzled&fried imagination, the things I write will be terrible, awful, no-good first drafts. So, maybe this is an apology letter, more than it is a proclamation.

There is great personal risk in the public announcement of a calling. I know this, because I embarrass myself this way all the time. "I'm a writer!" say I, while I fail to write regularly, misspell things when I do, and stick with regurgitating the tried & true. The books I read put me to shame. I don't know that I can develop characters and build histories like the authors who are successfully doing these things. Maybe the surety I have about my calling is all farce & false hope. Who knows.

What I do know is this: my fear of bad writing is minute in comparison with my fear of never having written. I don't want to be old, with only a few pages to my name. I like to imagine I'll be found dead in my nineties, surrounded by my life's work. At the current rate, I'll still be working on the same project I started four years ago.

It's March 7 today, which bothers me. The nerdy wench that dwells in my writing cavity insists I wait until an even date, like April 1st. I'm resisting, though. I keep telling myself it is better to start now than it is to wait for perfect timing.

What's in store, then? If I do write every day, it will most likely be on here. Thankfully, Goins has some writing prompts along the way, for the days I really don't feel like the writing would be worth it. The writing may not be worth it in the end. But the work, I hope, will be.

That's 500.


Pieter Goossens said...

Don't doubt your talent, Ashley. You write better stories than a lot of the writers on my shelves :)

As a stumbling composer I definitely share the experience that's it often a good thing to just sit down and force yourself to produce. I really should do that myself more often too. Yes, some times all you write is worthless on such an evening, but most of the time you're surprised and conclude: "hey, this is actually pretty good!".
It's all about two things: growing into a rhythm of writing often (which this really does help you with) and discovering that the creativity doesn't come from inspiration (wonderful as it feels when it does) but lies in you. Your skills.

I find it easier to follow challenges/programs/plans I've created/adapted myself (there's my non-conformist side playing up). Maybe you could try that too? You can make the goals more realistic, and then in a way your success becomes more of a personal success than one of a program.

afterthoughtcomposer said...

Pieter! You're still around! I count that as a compliment & blessing. Thanks for your faith in my writing, and your words of encouragement.

I'm definitely approaching this 500 challenge with an open mind & the willingness to change it to make it work for me.

I love what you said about creativity & inspiration - thanks, I needed that.

Anywhere we can listen to your compositions?