Monday, March 3, 2014

the way we (don't) write.

"I'm going to set the timer for 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes, you cannot put your pen down--just keep writing. Even if it's just a random string of words or you're just writing, 'I don't know what to write.' You can write about something that's related to your story or...just write about anything. The idea is that you may end up writing pages and pages worth of crap, but there may be at least one sentence or phrase in there you'll like and be able to use."

He dimmed the lights and started up a playlist of instrumental jazz, and said, "Go."


The hardest thing about writing most days is simply the act of getting started. As I've mentioned before, I suffer from horrible writer's block from time to time, and there are few remedies that work to clear me of my own personal hang ups.

But this writing method an old journalism professor introduced to me in a workshop in college is a practice I've carried with me whenever I write. And it works (at least, for me). Sure, sometimes I end up with four pages of complete nothingness, but it normally frees up my mind to continue on a path of creativity and thought.

That's the main purpose behind this quest to write as often as possible and throw it out into the world with little request for feedback. I used to obsessively write in a diary when I was little, and then when I started blogging, I would go through these phases of "I have so much to say!" to "What's the point?"

I live in a world where web traffic is tracked and valued; where it doesn't matter what kind of journalism you're doing, so long as you're getting it shared and liked and commented on by hundreds and thousands of people in an hour.

But some of my favorite pieces I've written in my professional career (when I had the opportunity to exercise my creativity) were not the stories that brought in the millions of hits, and yet the final product turned out just fine. We're so used to placing value on high-trafficked content, that we can often use the low engagement to feel bad about ourselves in other aspects of life.

So my goal with this current project is just to write--to inspire myself, and to motivate myself to take down the walls I built to protect myself from thinking that the thoughts in my own head aren't valid. It may not always be perfect or pretty or necessarily interesting, but I'm still growing and developing, and so there's nothing wrong with stumbling along the way.

We all have a story to tell, and I believe that every person has the capability to share theirs. How will you share your story?

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