Sit Down at a Typewriter and Open Up a Vein

I started writing when I was in high school. I started out writing surrealistic sentences. I typed them on an old manual Royal typewriter. I rarely got more than a sentence or two written before I ripped the page from the platen and loaded another sheet of paper. If it was particularly bad I wadded it up and threw it toward an old school metal waste basket. I had a fantasy that this was how real writers suffered for their art.

A year or two later I took a screenwriting class in film school. I got my first taste of what it was like to actually struggle over the details of a story. I wrote about twenty minutes of a feature film before I wrote myself into a corner. Apparently the professor liked what I wrote. I made an A in the course. But I never did work out the problems with the plot.

I wrote in fits and starts throughout four years in the Army. Most of the time it was journal entries written by hand in a notebook. I preferred small ones, five inches by seven inches was my favorite. I rarely filled more than a third of the pages in one before I quit writing regularly. Then several months later I would start over with a new notebook.

When I finally got my first computer I started writing on it. It didn’t have the same tactile appeal as my notebooks but it was easier to read what I had written. It was also better for the environment. I used way less dead trees. But I was still an occasional writer.

Then one day I heard about Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I read it and started writing seven hundred and fifty words a day. That was seven years ago. I’ve written practically ever day since then. I have noticed that I have been getting progressively better at writing as I accumulated more and more practice.

I started participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that is held every November. The goal is to write at least fifty thousand words during the thirty days of November. I succeeded twice but the novels that I wrote were not very good. I came to understand that they were first drafts and that I still had work to do to transform them into the stories that I wanted to tell.

The next thing that I figured out is that I needed to start publishing my writing. And I had to do it on a regular schedule. Without knowing exactly why, I made a commitment to write a blog post every day. That was last June. Since then, I’ve only missed one day. I also discovered why it was so important. The discipline of writing a cohesive post of a particular size on a strict deadline helped me take my writing to the next level.

The latest piece in the puzzle has been to join a Writers Group at my local public library. The group meets twice a month, once to critique each others writing and once for a program featuring a speaker knowledgeable in some aspect of writing or publishing. I am amazed at how valuable these meetings have been to my development as a writer.

At this point I’m an amateur writer, I write for the love of writing. Some day I may graduate to publishing works for sale. As long as I continue to grow as a writer, I’m not particularly concerned about that one way or the other. I just want to write things that people enjoy reading.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.