a few things I have learned
There may be those writers that are prolific both in words and ideas but there are some of us who need a jump-start. I am one of those that needs a boost. Several years ago I acquired a book which has helped me unlock creativity. The name of this book is called “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg.
This method is called “freewriting.” One of her suggestions is to spend time every day with a pen and a spiral notebook. I take her at her word, pun intended and each day find a comfortable spot where I won't be disturbed and write, not worried about spelling, grammar, or complete sentences. I keep my pen moving for 15 or 20 minutes, nonstop, not reading what I have written but instead put my notebook away until the next day. After a week or so I go back to see what I can glean and am constantly amazed at how much the subconscious surfaces.
I am a big fan of journaling anyway, I have the habit of carrying the notebook with me and write in it religiously, freewriting or not. Sometimes I just play with words by making list of verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and nouns and combine different words into phrases I make up titles, collect quotes, or do crossword puzzles. I see myself as a writer and keep plenty of pens, paper, stamps, and envelopes on hand so that I am prepared when I take the chance and enter writing contests or submit to magazines. Enjoying the process is the goal.
The internet is full of opportunities for personal publishing. A friend of mine suggested a poetry site for me as a way to share my poems, and I was hooked. I have since moved on to maintaining a few blogs; both personal and public. I write letters. Personal letters are a great way to communicate to relatives and friends. In this age of email, hand-written letters can be treasures to their recipients, telling people that you care about them by taking the time to write in longhand, especially on pretty stationary.
Whether I am writing an essay, an article, or a short story I think: beginning, middle, and end. It is a labor of love to get the first draft written but I just go for it, getting those thoughts out of my head and onto paper. I find that I like to my first draft in long hand sometimes but I also feel comfortable at a keyboard.
I read my piece several times. Then read it again. Do my sentences make sense? (Here, also, is where the grammar comes in) Am I building the main idea? Am I saying what I really want to say? I read my words out loud. Is my piece flowing or choppy?
I proofread and, if possible, have someone else proofread. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to spot an error. Correct spelling is essential. Spell checks are a great invention, but they are not foolproof. A word may be correctly spelled, but it may not be the right (write) word! Now I am ready for your second, (third, fourth, etc.) draft. I am not afraid to rewrite. It may take several tries before I have a polished piece. Isn’t that the challenge and the joy of writing?
When I have finished my final draft I put it in a drawer and let it cool for awhile; go for a walk; take a nap, whatever. When I come back to my story I am refreshed and more objective ready for the final step. Then comes the moment I have been working towards. I am ready to submit my manuscript. I don’t do so without consulting a writer’s reference book and/or the guidelines of the publication that I am submitting to. When I comply with the required guidelines I am showing that care about my work and my editor will be impressed. I determine the word count. This is simple on a computer.
Writing is an art and a stimulating way of life whether I get published or not. I am a writer and I enjoy the process of creating. The important thing is believing in myself and never giving up. Once enticed, the Muse comes knocking!