16 June 2010

Writing is Hard: Part Two

by Milt Reynolds

continued from yesterday when Milt Reynolds decided to use Dr. Wicked's Write-or-Die motivational tool for writers to prepare his post for Peevish Penman...

A Memorable Instance of Writing

I'm trying to think back to when I had a memorable, distinctive, successful instance of writing...

I think it might have been a couple of years back...I'd been studying the Bible and ran across a passage that mentioned exercise. I'm a word nut, and I looked at the Greek meaning of the original word, and it meant gymnastics. That immediately brought to mind my children's experience in their gymnastics class, especially that of my son, Ryan.

Ryan is now grown up, with a family of his own, and I wanted to encourage him to think about priorities in his life, so the ideas I found in my study linked closely with his own experience with gymnastics. I wrote an article in the form of a letter to my children.

I think this experience contains several essential elements of successful writing: R - I - A.

Reading Importance Audience
(At this point I'm distracted...I want to turn these three elements into an acronym. I know it's corny, but I just love acronymns. I was an elementary teacher for many years, and one of the best ways to force myself to understand a complex subject, and then communicate the essentials to my class, was to boil the elements down to just the basics, assign a keyword to each element, and then rearrange the words so that their first letters would form a single related, intriguing word. But Write or Die won't allow me thinking time. There is a Pause button, but I've already pressed it once, and it warned me that it is good for only one pause...it will not allow a second pause. So, I hold down the K key while I think, just to fool the program into letting me think.)


Oops! Write or Die is on to my trick! The screen turns red, warning me that I'm not writing.

Oh well, I don't think it's worth trying to think of an acronym right now...


The more I read, the more my mind develops interesting thoughts, and the more I want to communicate those ideas with others. At heart, I am more a teacher than a writer. I write to communicate with others, and I want to communicate what I value. Without reading, my mind is not stimulated to question, to wonder, to apply. Without any ideas of value, I lack any desire to communicate with others.

I must be a reader, before I can be a writer.


The more important an idea, the more compelling the desire the write. Perhaps that's why this post about the art and skill of writing began so weakly...I had little thought of the importance of writing. All I was feeling was a desire to BE a writer, rather that to simply WRITE. But the trick of free association, simply writing as words formed in my mind, regardless of context or syntax, stirred my mind to begin sifting and collating, putting together a mosaic of words, and an important message began to emerge.


I must have a specific person in mind, or at least a specific group of people or a specific type of person, before I can successfully write. As I write, I envision my audience reacting to it. Is my audience technical or emotional? Is my audience interested in writing? Is my audience sympathetic to the feelings and thoughts of a wannabe writer?

At this point, I have 7 minutes and 18 seconds remaining...I've written 561 words. What have I got?

I've got Three Essentials for Successful Writing:

Be a Reader. Write about things that are important. Envision your audience.
This is what helps me.

What helps you?


  1. I guess what helps me is honestly an outline. This might stem from the fact that I'm a non-fiction reader at heart, but I prefer to fill out a framework I believe will work.

  2. When I used Write or Die during NaNoWriMo and I needed thinking time I would press spacebar a couple of times then delete, and kept repeating until I had something to write again. That seemed to work ;)

    Also RIA is the perfect acronym for me to remember those points as it is my mother-in-law's name.

    Great elements! Very important for all writers to remember.

  3. I enjoyed both posts, Milt--and I love Write or Die. I've used it a few times to kick-start blog posts. That evil red screen is all I need to keep my fingers moving.