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!
If you’re a regular reader of my writing on this blog, AOO, you might be wondering about what does this all mean?
Unfortunately for you I am engaged in an exercise to write and keep writing and get to that place where it flows out of me more readily. I learned this idea from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. One of these days I’ll learn more about typing in italics, too, so I can more properly make the titles of books and/or movies standout.
What happens here is more for my benefit than yours. I apologize.
There can be some extra benefit if you want to look over what I’ve written in approximately two months so you can decide if you want to embark on a similar journey. You will be missing some of my writing which is a private blog containing my writing for two science fiction stories/novels.
But for now, tonight, here we are. I’m typing and I keep typing unless I get interrupted by a technical glitch that just happened. Does anyone have any idea why that happens and how to avoid it? I’m just guessing that my fingers are a little too big for this keyboard.
Here’s what happens: I’m typing along and all of a sudden the cursor jumps and often this happens in the middle of a word so I end up typing “going to the movies” as going to the mhistoryovies and then I have to go back and change it.
It just did it again as I started this sentence. The cursor was in between the and mhistoryovies in the sentence above and I just happened to catch it as I hadn’t started to type the next word yet. THAT time it really just seemed random and I didn’t notice hitting a particular key or any key for that matter. But it happens so fast when it happens that it is really hard to know if it was cause by me or it’s some sort of technical or programming glitch that someone has figured out somewhere. Just not me.
I did notice it on an even smaller computer with a smaller keyboard and it happened much more often than it does on this one. That’s partly why I believe it could be related to my big fingers.
Oh well…if you know something, please let me know. Sometimes I laugh about it and sometimes I’m not in that light of a mood.
Lighten up. You must have heard someone say that to you at some time or another.
People talk about being “light” and what I’m referring to is your mood or your attitude.
Sometimes I can just snap my fingers and do this and other times it is truly difficult.
I used to know a man who talked about “getting out of your head” and I think I understand that pretty well AND sometimes it seems to be easier said than done. I don’t think I have the idea down perfectly as I wonder about the need to be in my head in order to write some of the stories I want to write. Perhaps all of them. 🙂
Today I was not “light”. I felt pretty – there it did it again and I don’t think I was touching the keyboard. Please, please let me know if you have this problem sometimes and you’ve figured out how to stop it. I’m trying to recall if my HP had this problem, but now it seems like it’s been happening forever. LOL
I’m also interested in hearing from authors about how many books you sell each year – either by you or other retailers. One of the things that has occurred to me recently is that if you could write two books a year that sold 2,000 copies a year, you could have good to great residual income over time. If one of your works turned out to sell 50,000 or 100,000 copies, you’d be doing pretty well.
Many, many people are working on creating residual income and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talk about that with respect to books. I’ve heard and seen presentations about different products that are sold my network marketing companies. Nothing wrong with that, but writing does allow you more creativity and I find that to be a bonus! Also, if you have the means, buying a property and renting it out is a type of residual income if you are covering the mortgage payment and you keep a tenant in there.
What if you wrote a book about something that you knew there was a market for and it didn’t necessarily strike you as quite as creative as a work of fiction or something you had to research like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood? Let’s say that you write one book a year that really causes you to “go to the well” of your creativity and one book about say, “How to create a website for your small business using WordPress” or something like that.
When you KNOW that there’s a market for a book and it’s not necessarily your heart’s desire, but a way to make income, maybe you should consider writing a book like that every other book or every fourth book.
I’m sure that adds up over time.
This is not in any way an attempt to kill anyone’s dreams. If you are writing and making the income you want to from writing, that’s great. However, if you aren’t making as much income from writing as you would like, perhaps a strategy like that would allow you to hold onto your artistic integrity (however YOU see that) and create more income so that in the long run you can devote more time to the thing that you really love. I’m assuming that at least part of that thing you really love is, in fact, writing.
You can also do something else to make money while you write completely and utterly the exact stuff you want to write regardless of how well it sells. I’m not saying one way is better than another. Whatever works for you.
Be careful that it actually does work, however.
You are free to choose just like me.
I freely chose to step out in faith a couple months ago and write and then write more and write consistently and soon I’ll be consistently writing more. I do expect to have one science fiction novel published by December 30th and another book about redemption published by the same date.
This process of writing these “morning pages” as Julia Cameron calls them has helped me think about my writing as well. I’m practicing writing without judgement and look at it simply as a way to learn. Insights are a bonus.
If what you are doing is working and you’re not doing morning pages, that is fantastic.
If you would like to get more of your creativity out into the world for others to see and it’s not happening in the way you would like, I urge you to do morning pages even if it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
So here I am on a Sunday night and I’ve had a restful day which my wife let me have because I woke up and my bones ached. I rarely take anything and I took some Advil earlier today. I feel better than I did earlier and yet I considered not writing tonight. I knew I could blame it on not feeling well.
Yet I really want to make this happen and I decided to just get down to it a little while ago.
I urge you to have a writing discipline. It does not have to be like mine.
What will work for you? If you’re looking for something and you’re trying different things, remember:
Morning pages are always available to you. Waiting for you, even.
Join the battle!
Saturday I was gardening for the first time in a while. Technically I was weeding. There are a lot of them and it’s time to get the front and back yards in shape. Have you been putting that off? Have you been putting anything off?
Now is as good a time as any to do something that you’ve been procrastinating about.
In my case recent rains have made the ground a lot softer which makes weeding easier. I still spent 90 minutes on my knees pulling the green stuff out of the ground. Probably have about 12 more hours worth. The thing is – I actually kind of enjoyed it once I got into it. Sort of a whistle while you work thing. I was actually singing a little bit of “Pull Up The Roots” by Talking Heads. Snow White was right. Whistle while you work. Or sing. Or hum. Or whatever works for you.
I also thought about gardening as a kid with my dad and the rest of the family. He was the one that really made us get out there and I didn’t really like getting out there then either. But just like Saturday, it could be enjoyable if you let it be. It doesn’t hurt to let the soil get softer, but there’s nothing wrong with working smart.
Again. What have you been putting off? Can you “whistle while you work”?
This led to me not writing Saturday night or Sunday or Monday. That’s ok. I did do 30 days or more in a row.
New rule. If I’m going to keep going with this, then maybe taking a 2 or 3 days off or a little more isn’t so bad. 30 Days On. 3 Days Off. No reason to get down on yourself. That’s a good ratio. Just have to keep it up. Get back on the horse. Stick to it. Keep the rhythm. You get the idea.
How is your writing going? If it’s not what you would have hoped, consider doing morning pages just like Julia Cameron tells us in The Artist’s Way. Or sort of like it.
I spoke to someone the other day who reminded me that she expected you to put pen to paper. I say – if the keyboard fits, wear it! Do it in the way it works for you. Some of you may actually be speaking into a microphone and having a program convert the spoken word to the written word. As long as it works. You don’t have to do EXACTLY what others do as long as you develop a discipline of your own. Don’t make a law of it. Make sure that it keeps you creatively productive.
Earlier today I posted a video here in the previous post. I suggest you take a look. I actually found this guy on Comedy Central. Be open to inspiration. He could be saying something that’s really valuable for you. If not, move on. But at least check him out. His name is Kyle Cease and he’s more than a comedian. He seeks to inspire.
My wife and I saw The Hunger Games and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. If you haven’t seen it and you can read the books first, do. You only have to read the first book before you see the first movie, but you may appreciate it more than the other way around. Why see it? You’ll have something to talk about with teenagers and young adults now and in the next couple of years. And you may find yourself moved. I know I did. They found a great Katniss and Donald Sutherland does a great job as the President. If you aren’t familiar, it’s post-apocalyptic North America so it’s no longer the United States (or Canada?), but a place called Panem.
One thing that amazed me was that I really didn’t think it was as long as it was. I’m pretty sure it’s close to 2 1/2 hours, but I was wondering why it was so short. I could have watched the movie if it was twice that long. Are there a couple places where you realize that it’s aimed at young adults and teens? Yes. But those parts were brief. They really did a good job of making it for everyone. Lenny Kravitz does a good job as Cinna, too.
If you don’t know who those characters are you’ll just have to pick up a copy of the book or go see the movies.
Was the book better? Yes, but really isn’t that always the case? You just can’t fit it all in on the big screen in the short amount of time you have. I read the book quickly, but it still took me a few days.
I’m glad to be back writing. Keep your chin up. Keep going no matter what. If you take a break, don’t make the break too long. But always, ALWAYS come back and write and write and write some more. See you Wednesday!
I’m starting this post off with a link:
I think I’ve found someone who can be an important influence for me. Maybe he’ll be of help to you, too.
Just to remind you – this – these – recent posts have been morning pages. Morning pages are an exercise in creativity that I learned about from Julia Cameron who wrote “The Artist’s Way.” I’ve known about Julia for nearly two decades.
Part of what you have to do as a writer is simply write. Julia wants you to write without judgement.
Another influence, Marshall Rosenberg, who wrote Nonviolent Communication, would agree.
When you brainstorm, judgement gets in the way by stopping the flow of ideas.
But what about when you get the effluent out of your system. What happens when you are really getting down to writing the stories you want to write?
Joe Ezsterhas is another influence, but he may be too good for a beginning writer to emulate. Or too, I don’t know…can’t quite put my finger on it.
For those of you who might be turned off by his subject matter, you might be surprised to know that he has found his way back to God.
But, for the art of storytelling, maybe Andrew Stanton is the one I need to watch and read more of. Yes, that preposition is at the end of the sentence.
That’s how we talk in real life. Often. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who first started writing that way? As opposed to James Fenimore Cooper who had Native Americans speaking the Queen’s English perfectly?
There are a lot of influences to choose from, yet I see something in Andrew Stanton that I “get”.
Sometimes you just need someone to speak to you in a way you can hear.
I remember nearly a decade ago when I hosted a networking lunch I called The PG Lunch, in Del Mar, California, which is immediately north of San Diego. I had a friend who is a chiropractor who owned her own business and she came to my lunch several times. My friend and mentor, Fran Cannon, was there nearly every time and he would give a mini-blurb every time about his seminars for business owners. I had told my chiropractor friend about Fran’s seminars more than once. More than twice. More than three times. And she had heard him give his presentation more than once or twice.
One day the lightbulb went on and she said, “Oh, this is the guy you’ve been telling me about!” She ended up going to his seminar within a few weeks from that realization.
Maybe that’s what’s happening to me with Andrew Stanton. I don’t know if he’s incredibly unique and that’s what appeals to me. Maybe I’m finally ready to hear what he’s saying.
I’ve been in Toastmasters nearly 11 years now and we’ve learned that telling a story is very important in giving a speech. I’ve attempted to do so with varying measures of success.
I’ve won contests within our club and competed at the next level.
Recently, writing down stories has become much more important to me. How to do it “right” has been on my mind.
I’ve listened to people before who spoke about storytelling as well as many who were simply great storytellers.
Now I think I am finally getting somewhere. I’ve got my computer, such as it is. I’m practicing writing every day. People in my life are giving me more space to write. Some are even intrigued. Now I can put together stories that people care about.
That’s a big part of what Andrew Stanton is saying. But he’s not just saying that. He’s telling us how to put the elements in place that will make people more likely to care. He’s not saying that it’s an exact science. It’s an art. It takes practice.
Are you writing the kind of writing you ultimately want to write?
First- Judge Not, Lest You Miss Out, er, Disrupt The Creative Flow.
You can always edit later.
What about your ending? How do you want the story/characters to end up?
How do you get people to care about your characters?
I don’t know all the answers, but I honestly believe you should take a peek at Andrew Stanton.
He’s the guy who did Wall-E, among other things.
If you’re a purist about some things and don’t think he’s in the right category for you, remember #1.
You can always throw that stuff out later.
I’ve always been confident that I can learn. Can you learn? What if it’s a new trick?
Don’t be an old dog or stubborn mule.
We have to be humble to learn. We have to know that we don’t have all the answers. Maybe you have everything you need as a writer. If that’s true, I’m sorry for wasting your time.
If you don’t have absolutely everything you need or want as a writer, take a listen/watch Andrew Stanton.
What if you were my younger brother or sister?
I’d just say, “Hey! Do this thing for me, ok?”