When I said I was going to write a Story A Day in May, plenty of people looked at me with *that look* in their eyes, or said thinks like,
‘Well, good luck…”.[1. I expect if you’ve ever taken on any kind of creative assignment (not directly related to a paycheck) you know what I mean by *that look*.]
“Why?” was the most common question. Good question. If we’re not writing for money, then why do we write?
“How ?” was the second most common question.
I wasn’t 100% sure about the answer to either. After a month of attempting to write a story a day I do have some answers.
How To Be A Prolific Writer – Even When You Don’t Have Time
I’m not going to lie and say it was easy to find time for writing this month. In fact, I almost never ‘found’ time. I ‘made’ time.
Making time means something else had to give. Sometimes it was housework, but more often it was the relatively random consuming of information that I do. The BBC news website might have been minus a few thousand hits this month, my personal blog was updated less. The grocery shopping got more, er, targeted.
But the biggest lesson I learned about the “How” was this:
How To Write Anything
- Start writing.
- Write until it is finished.
It is one of those annoying pieces of advice that mean almost nothing until you try it.
Sitting down to write can be paralyzing. It is so much easier to get up and walk away — tell yourself you don’t have time — than it is to start writing.
I had to, so I used story prompts, memories, jokes, other people’s stories, to get me started. I put my pen on the page (quite literally) and told myself to write a sentence. Anything. One day I started by simply describing where I was sitting. It turned into a story about a homicide detective!
So, the answer to ‘how to write’ becomes quite simply:
Commit to doing it. Make time. Start writing.
(I did learn a bunch of other trick for helping with that, which I’ll be writing about soon.)
Once I had started figuring out the ‘how’ I was amazed to discover a n amazing set of benefits in the ‘why’ column – some that I had not expected.
I found that, if I sat down and got a story started in the morning,
- It energized me. I was more (not less) likely to take care of the laundry, the dishes, the 1001 other mundane things that we usually blame for getting in the way of our writing.
- I became more responsible and attentive to all my obligations, from family to my business.
- My brain was less fuzzy. I spent less time worrying about all the things I ought to be doing, and, instead, started crossing things off the list, prioritizing better than ever, in order to get back to my writing (to make time for it).
- I paid attention to the world around me. I was doing that thing people talk about as ‘living mindfully’. I was doing it in order to gather ideas and snippets for stories, but no matter why you do it, mindfulness is acknowledged by religions, psychologists and hippies, to be A Good Thing.
- I found I had more time to give to people, because I wasn’t constantly feeling like I ought to be doing something, or resenting the time they were taking from things I really wanted to do. I had made time for myself and my thing, and now I could take an interest in you and yours.
- I even wrote my way out of a really foul temper one day, just by letting my characters do and say things I never would, in real life, being all well-brung up and all that.
So the sort answer to ‘why do you write?’ is just this:
It makes me a better, happier person.
As an added bonus, posting some of my stories, made some readers happy. Granted,a lot oft hem were related to me, but some were complete strangers.
If you have ever thought about doing one of those creative challenges like NaNoWriMo, or The Artist’s Way or any other challenge, I highly encourage you to commit to doing it. What you gain will be so much more than you sacrifice. What you learn will be so much different from what you expect.
Meanwhile, why not subscribe to the StoryADay.org mailing list, so that you’ll be among the first to know when we’re gearing up to do this all again next May?