3 Lessons on Writing from the Past Several Months

For the first time, probably in my life, I have actually begun to write out of habit. Granted, sometimes I have to take a break from writing, which I did over the holidays. But what really matters is that I’ve begun to write regularly. In the past I’ve challenged myself during the summer and over the holiday breaks to write five-hundred or even a thousand words a day, but that goal never lasted more than a week or two. It felt good then, but I didn’t feel like I had to write every day. The habit wasn’t part of me.

But now, now something is different. If I don’t write something every day, even something that no one sees but me, I feel off, incomplete somehow. Recently I wrote two paragraphs that I intended to turn into a flash fiction story. I don’t know if it will actually happen, but I wrote two paragraphs, because I needed to do so. And today, I wrote a poem, partly because I wanted to, but also because I had to write. So I wrote about how I was feeling. I wrote.

For some writers, this may seem pretty mundane, not an achievement to celebrate to this degree. But the truth of it is, I took words, I fashioned them into a form that is unique to me, I made them into something new that hadn’t existed before I opened my notebook to write. Even typing out these words now is therapeutic.

As such, I’d like to share a few thoughts on writing that have been percolating in my brain.

1. It is okay, even necessary, to take time to write just for yourself.

I’ve been blogging consistently for a two years now. I know the euphoric sensation that rushes through you when you get a like or a comment on the blog post you just published. In some ways (and I hate to admit this, but it’s true) I live for that sensation. I feel fulfilled and recognized. Writing has the potential to do that for people.

But sometimes, you need to write just because you’re a writer and that’s what you do. You need to get words onto the page, even if no one sees them. You don’t have to get a bunch of WordPress likes to be a writer.

2. Creating a habit doesn’t have to be difficult.

What I mean is, you can build a habit based on a very small goal. Writers often have the notion (and I’m including myself here) that the habit of writing is a big deal, that to make a habit involves some sort of self-denial and a big goal. That’s not true. You can make a habit out of writing 100, even 50 words a day, or every other day. That’s super easy. It’s a great starting point, and once you’ve proved to yourself that you can in fact write, you’ll be able to write much more. I can accomplish something with greater ease when I know that I can do it.

3. The bathroom is a great place to come up with ideas.

I know this sounds kind of weird, but it’s true. At work, sometime I’ll take a break and go to the bathroom, and while I’m sitting there, an idea hits me. Or two, or three. And not just small ideas either: the other day, totally out of the blue, I came up with a solution to a plot problem that‘s been bothering me for a long time. I have this idea for a book of short stories about a collection of magical antiques in an antique store, but I couldn’t come up with a plausible way for the stories to be told in the first place. But today, in the bathroom, I figured it out.

So basically, spend some time in the bathroom and you might just come up with some great ideas.

Let me know your thoughts on this! I’d love to hear them. 🙂

~H

P.S. I’m way behind on my Storystorm list. The ideas just aren’t coming to me like I expected they would…

6 thoughts on “3 Lessons on Writing from the Past Several Months

  1. Okay, so like all of this is pure writing wisdom, thank you for sharing it at the Go Dog Go Cafe today. Problem is… now we are going to have to expand the bathrooms over there! ROFL. Point 3… epic.

    Stephen

    Like

  2. Each National Poetry Month I notice that writing sparks writing. When I’ve written a poem in the morning, during the day I may recognise scenes or sentences as good working material, that I normally wouldn’t notice. I’ve had days when I wrote three poems on one day, even ones that turned out to be my favourite.

    I totally agree with your post. Very good suggestions!

    Like

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