Tuesday, September 14, 2010

500 Words...Go! (Aren't You Finished Yet?!?)

I've been taking inventory of all of the Web 2.0 writing projects I've participated in...or at least seriously considered, even if I didn't pull on the water wings and jump into the deep end. And they all seem to have a general theme attached to them: Write your ass off!

Don't feel like writing?
Write, anyway!
Not feeling inspired on a particular day?
Make something up, and write it down!

The most obvious one is the one you're reading: write a blog entry every day for a month. Every...day. All month long. If you miss a day? Looooser! Thanks for playing, try again next month. It even has a fancy name to make it sound more official...NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. (sounds like a banquet you should wear a tie to, no?)

NaBloPoMo was inspired by NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month, in which you write a 50,000-word novel during the 30 days of November. This is the deep end I haven't jumped or dove into yet...I've only dipped my toes. My best effort crashed and burned before I reached 10,000 words.

One year I'll write a novel...in a month. That's 1,667 words a day to cross the finish line, and if you don't do it, you're someone who's attempted a novel in a month, not written a novel in a month. Harsh.

Another writing exercise is one I mentioned a few days ago: 100 haiku in 100 days. If the day is drawing to a close and you haven't written that day's haiku, you better stare at an oak tree until you're struck with 17 syllables of poetic revelation!

These writing processes focus solely on getting words down...not necessarily good words. Just words. The idea is that out of the piles of rubble, you might pull a sentence or paragraph or theme that can be dusted off and polished. (I'm lucky if I find the occasional serviceable prepositional phrase...but I keep plugging away.)

Another writing tool is Write or Die, by Dr. Wicked. (makes writing sound even scarier than it already is, doesn't it?) This program makes you set a goal (1,000 words) and a time limit (14 nanoseconds). If you don't meet your goal in the allotted time, you...um....die, or something. (I'll find out when I download the desktop version. If my blogging comes to a sudden halt (not that that's ever happened on this blog before), you can assume I've gambled and lost at Write or Die. Yikes.) At the very least you lose your gym membership, or they come and take away your pet for a week. I dunno.

[side note: isn't a parenthetical nested inside of another parenthetical one of the most gorgeous visuals on the written page? I digress.]

The goal is the same. Write words. Good words, bad words, misspelled words. Just...words.

Writing a blog entry every day...whether it's an essay, or a three-line poem, or a photo-laden post...leaves little time for editing. Some days you pull up a blog screen, scribble down your thoughts and hit Publish. And then you come back and read it a few days later, cringing at how loose and rambling some (or all) of your ideas are. (This may be a perfect example of such an entry.)

I believe in the benefits of writing every day, even though I've rarely kept such a schedule.

And I believe in the benefits of all of the writing exercises I've listed above, which is why I continue to attempt some of them. The community of other writers attempting the same thing can be a great motivator.

I've been a NaBloPoMo loser a handful of times...but I've also been a winner a few times, too. Sometimes life gets in the way, and the best you can be is a 28 or 29 out of 30.

The secret is to get back in front of your computer or pick up that pen and, as Goldberg always says...

...just write, just write, just write.

Tomorrow's blog post will be much shorter (and hopefully more coherent) than this one. Goodnight.

"Being a writer is like having homework
every night for the rest of your life."
—Lawrence Kasdan

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