Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Writing Muscles

Last month, I wrote about my experience this summer with the blogathon where I posted every 30 minutes for 24 hours to support my charity of choice. Looking back, this was a really great exercise and it got me thinking about writing in a new way. In the past, I considered it something small that I do sometimes for fun, but the truth is, I much prefer writing to almost any other activity I do.

So I'm considering ways I can improve my writing. The first idea is to read more. It's pretty much a given that being an avid reader will help my writing. Classic fiction, memoirs, contemporary novels, short stories, graphic novels... Over the last couple of months, and in the months to come, I will be reading works in different genres, including ones I've ignored in the past. I'll admit that I'm not only doing this to improve my writing but simply because I love reading and have hundreds of books on my "to read" list, but it will surely help my writing as well.

I've also been trying to write more. I try to write a bit each day, though I'm having trouble balancing my hectic schedule with my desired writing schedule. My first approach was setting a specific time to write, but that quickly failed. I can't wake up early enough, I work during the day, and the evening is usually my time to catch up on other responsibilities. A writer friend of mine recommended a word target rather than a scheduled time. She writes at least 250 words a day, and worries less about how she breaks that up. Given how unpredictable my schedule is, this might be a better approach for myself, though it will certainly require more discipline to make sure I actually do it.

With all of the great writers who read (and write for *cough* Kekla *cough*) the blog, I'm sure somebody must have some other advice to help me work out my writing muscles. What have you got for me?

1 comment:

Kekla Magoon said...

The best thing, as you say, is to read and write. Write short randomness, and do it often, playing with different styles and subjects until you find something that excites you that you want to devote more time to. I am a fan of the word count goal for each day, rather than the set time to write every day. I had the same problems you mentioned.

If you are just trying to flex, without any finished product in mind, I like to look for prompts in the world around me. Usually they have nothing to do with anything, but it gives you a jumping off point to write a story, scene, essay, rant, whatever.

Example of fiction prompts:
1. Listen to people talking in public. Take a random line or two of dialogue and use it to start a scene.

2. Pick a stranger and try to describe them physically in the best most creative way, and then make up a personality, habits, lifestyle, etc. about them.

3. Think about a conversation/experience you had with someone and re-write it as if it happened differently. (i.e., Someone stepped on your foot in the subway, so you got mad and yelled, when in reality you smiled and walked away instead of blowing up.)

Non-fiction prompts:
1. Write a response, rebuttal, or letter to the editor based on an article in the newspaper. (Well, i guess you do this anyway blogging)

2. Make lists of childhood memories. What did you play? What is the first vacation/trip you remember? What do you miss and not miss about living at home? How did you feel on the first day of elementary school, high school college?

There is a ton more. On my writer blog, I want to start listing writing prompts every week, because I want to be doing more of this kind of thing myself.

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