On February 23rd I started writing nearly every day as an exercise. I write at least 30 days in a row about whatever comes out and sometimes I also write on my private blog for my upcoming books. I take a break after at least 30 days of writing in a row and my last break consisted of only writing 3 or 4 days out of a week. I have to check my records, but I know that I’m at least in the neighborhood of 55,000 words. If you want to do this, you can.
My main advice consists of two things:
1) Don’t censor yourself unless you think that what you have to write is offensive enough to make a lot of people uncomfortable. If that’s the case I definitely recommend keeping your blog private.
2) Choose to do this at least 30 days in a row and take a little break. Notice that my break did not consist of not writing at all. And it wasn’t that long relative to the 30 day time period. If you mess up 17 days in or 6 days in or however much, start your 30 days over.
If I think of more recommendations, I’ll let you know.
Now I’m on to other thoughts straining to get out of my head. OK, maybe not straining, but I haven’t had to write blah, blah, blah in years. Almost forgot-
Don’t judge the process. Just let it flow. Keep going.
I’ve written when I’m tired and when I’m really tired and when I’m really, really tired. Soon I’ll be ready for really, really, really tired. And yes, I did notice my tense didn’t match in the first sentence of this paragraph. I’m also not doing much editing. Just occasional misspellings and the rest is a quick edit in my head.
I think that part of the value is the ability to get up a head of steam and keep going and let it flow out of you.
When you judge, if you judge, that can get in the way of the flow.
It’s much like brainstorming. Bet you didn’t know there were rules to brainstorming, did you? Don’t judge when brainstorming and just write it down. Don’t make judgmental comments to people who are in the brainstorming process with you. If you are judging when brainstorming you are doing it wrong. And by wrong I mean that it will on average be less productive than if you simply didn’t judge it. I know that can be hard to do for some people. The key is in the not doing it. So don’t judge.
You have to grow, in my opinion, in order to do this. You can run up against some emotional baggage along the way. That’s ok. Hopefully you will learn to use that as fuel.
I recently got into a slightly depressed space for a day. I don’t mean clinical depression, but depending on what you’re exposing yourself to, you can take it on for a short while and end up not so happy a camper. I’m better – much better – today.
Still, looking at that experience of more sadness than usual can benefit you in more ways than you might think. You can use your experience in your writing and you can be more empathetic with others.
My brain is a little tired right now so I don’t know where I expected to end up with what I wrote above. Hopefully that won’t make it less valid.
I’m making sure I do this writing before I go out tonight. Tonight is the night during the school year that I tutor and I absolutely want to make sure that I get this done before I get home tonight.
So planning is important, too.
Julia Cameron’s original idea was/is for something called morning pages. I have found that as long as you get them done they help you become more creative and productive. But there is definitely value in getting them done in the morning.
If I had an emergency come up right now I would have a hard time getting as many words written as I would like.
So please pay attention to any potential scheduling conflicts. I urge you to create the space in your life to do this writing exercise.
Some people think that they are beyond this I’m sure. Well, simply look at your results lately. If you will do that honestly you will see whether or not this type of writing will benefit you.
Others may think that they can’t do it. How can you commit the time every day for 30 days.
It’s possible that some will take some time getting into it.
My efforts here really started more than six months ago when I started reading the 23rd Psalm every day. My goal is still to read it or recite it accurately every day for a year. I’m more than half way there. I’ve recounted this before and I’ll say this again. I took at least three stabs at it that I remember before I got past about 6 or 7 days in a row. I also had to let myself off the hook a little bit when I stayed up really late one night so it wasn’t technically that same day when I said it at about 12:15 in the morning. I decided to not be too hard on myself. How strict do you want to be? For me, the fact that I did it before I went to sleep was enough.
You decide what your standards are. Don’t be so strict that you knock yourself out of the game before you even get started.
Don’t be too easy on yourself either. I honestly believe that the 30 day mark is important. If you can go more than that at a stretch, that’s great. I also believe that more than 3 or 4 days without writing at all can maybe knock you out of that game.
No matter what. Keep writing during the exercise. (Obviously not if the house is on fire.) And keep going day after day. And really, really, really make sure you get back on the horse if you fall off.
Another thing that has really helped me is WordPress itself. I find this typing away in the WordPress format to be aesthetically pleasing. You may prefer something else like Word or maybe even pencil and paper. That’s fine. As long as it gets the job done.
I really hate this about my computer. I really, really do not like what just happened and I am so grateful that WordPress automatically saves the draft every so often. So I only lost about 100 words.
I guess I’m glad I don’t type faster than I do. LOL
I don’t remember exactly what I was saying. Something about 65,000 words being the average size of a novel. We can’t all be Umberto Eco or George R.R. Martin.
Once you’ve written 60,000 words or so you will see that it’s not so hard. So what if not every word is relevant to whatever book you want to write? That’s not the first step in this process.
Once you’ve done it you know you can do it again. If you write 1200 words a day then that’s about 2 months to write 65,000 words. Ok. A little more. If you’re taking a break like the one I took then that about 62 days to write 65,000 words.
If you’re like me, you will have two places to right at least – like my two blogs. I’m writing down the words I need for two different books currently on my other blog.
Today I think I’ll keep going here until I reach 2,000 words. I’ve probably done that once before and come close a few times. So that’s not something that I’ve never done. I simply want to do that everyday. It’s a stretch if you’ve been averaging even 1300 words a day because that’s an increase of over 50%. You may want to be less ambitious – maybe in the 20% range every time you decide to go to the next level.
This is coming easily enough for me by now that I don’t think it’s an unrealistic jump.
So here I am now above 1300 words and I do have to go somewhere, but I’ve left myself plenty of time.
I personally find that some positions are more enjoyable at times. Right now I’m on my bed on my back with this computer on a pillow on my stomach. You may find a different position more helpful.
I feel like I’m flowing some and I’m not letting things get in my way. My son just came in a minute or so ago and asked where the keys to the big car were. No problem.
I had that technical glitch earlier where I lost the words and I’m just going to keep going.
Practice the “keeping going” part. You keep practicing it and the easier it gets.
You’ve been there before and then you know what to do when you see that behavior happen or when you see that circumstance.
Learn to have fun with it and you’ll ultimately get more out of it.
Remember to not judge. Some say it’s difficult to do a negative, but really not judging is just being and being at peace with what’s going on.
That’s where you can let things out of your unconscious that you might have not realized.
I’m considering a different approach to two of my books and I credit this writing process with opening those possibilities up.
Something that didn’t seem viable before all of a sudden seems possible.
You don’t know what’s going to come up and that’s cool.
Learn to love that experience or at least like it.
Your fingers will be moving faster and soon you will just let it out.
Is this a spiritual process? Maybe. It’s definitely a creative one. Just keep going.
Like I am now. If you’re wondering about the pool and is it warm enough to go swimming, that’s ok. Talk about what comes up. This reminds me of speaking exercise that’s similar in a book called Be Heard Now. It’s different than Toastmasters. You get to speak in front of group and say whatever comes up and that includes silence. It’s a powerful experience and the organization is called Speaking Circles. You can Google it.
Since when did we reach the point that searching for so many people has become Googling? Just like Kleenex for tissue.
Interesting times we live in.
This is the Creative Age. Did you know that? I did not make that up.
This is the time when people who are actively creating are going to be more financially rewarded than they were in the past.
Before this came the Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age and the Information Age. People may quibble with little differences – smaller ages that I didn’t mention or what came before the Agrarian Age, but make no mistake. We’re no longer in the information age.
In each of these ages eventually that thing that was central becomes less profitable. Consider how much money a man (and his family) can make as a farmer. If you think it’s a pretty good living, well then, take away the subsidies and see how good a family farmer can do. Most people who are family farmers are not making a good living even WITH subsidies from the government.
I won’t go into all the examples here, but at least consider the commoditization of information which happened at the end of the Information Age. It’s still happening. You can get information much more inexpensively than you could 20 or 30 years ago.
How long will the creative age last? I don’t know. Many people still think we’re in the information age, but those who understand the value of creativity in this age will see more possibilities for creating a better living – more income.
How much more enjoyable is it to be able to do something creative and ultimately get paid for it?
Hopefully the computers and/or robots won’t be as creative as humans for a long while!