15 June 2010

Writing is Hard: Part One

by Milt Reynolds

I don't know what to write.

PeevishPenman invited me to submit a post, and of course it appealed to my ego.  I'm a writer, I tell everyone!

But writing is hard.

I've always told students in my basic writing classes to "just start writing". Let your mind ramble and free associate, and have your pencil follow along for the ride. Eventually the sentences will make sense, and a theme or subject will emerge.

But I don't really rely on this for my own writing projects...at least not usually.

Usually I don't write until I'm stirred up...until I've seen a movie that evokes a feeling or memory or revelation, and then I'm unable to not write about it. Until I've stumbled across an article or a passage in a book or a problem with my kids or a conflict with my wife, and then I'm compelled to write.

And so I tried it. I let my mind wander, and my fingers followed, and this is what's emerging:

I'm not a writer...I'm a wannabe. If I were a writer, I'd have a notepad with me at all times, and I'd be jotting down possible themes, potential articles, promising revelations.

If I were a writer, I'd set a specific time each day at which I'd be writing. An hour each day, a thousand words each day, regardless of my emotions, regardless of my fatigue, regardless of distracting temptations to watch television or surf the web.

Instead, I'm a wannabe writer...dreaming of how I'd feel if I were a writer, if I had an impressive readership following my work, if I could give up my day job and write full time.

So, this post is real writing. This post is evidence that I'm willing to write when I don't feel like it, when I have no glorious revelation to share with the world.

I want to be a writer, so I'm writing.

But it's hard.

Oh, oh! I just did a quick search on PeevishPenman's website: "writer's block". Two previous articles already written! Both much more eloquent, and both mention my lowly technique of free association and rambling writing, with much more to boot!

"Writer's Block" by Morgan Barnhart

"Writer's Block, Not My Cup of Tea" by Tim Baker

What am I to do? PeevishPenman's invited me to write, and I've nothing new to add.

Bright light! Morgan Barnhart recommended a website that encourages/demands nonstop writing:

Dr. Wicked's Write or Die

So, here's the plan for this post: Use Write or Die to write about a memorable instance in my life related to the art and skill of writing.

Goal: 1000 words in 30 minutes
Consquence: Gentle (to start...I'll let you know if I amp it up!)


Tomorrow: Part Two, A Memorable Instance of Writing


  1. Thanks Milt. I certainly can relate.

  2. Aw! This was a great post! And thanks for the shout out! :)

  3. Good luck! Remember this: Writers aren't people, but a bunch of people trying to be a writer."

    Did you sign up for the character interview??? Come by and read mine, let me know what you think when you get the chance. :)

  4. Milt, I am sincerely flattered to be mentioned - one of the other big problems for writers is "validation".
    It's easy (sometimes) to write...but having somebody read your work and tell you that they enjoyed it is what it's all about.