Monthly Archives: April 2018

This Writing Life…

Twenty Pages.

Actually Twenty Creative Pages.

This is my commitment to writing. My commitment to me. Six days a week (I don’t write on Shabbos or Holidays). I also take a break if I’m suffering, especially when my body fails to cooperate, or when I require rest.

Some writers dedicate four or five hours a day to writing. Others measure writing through projects or completing tasks. This never worked for me. I don’t always have time nor ability to write for hours. I measure in page count.

How do I define twenty creative pages?

First, I don’t consider the following part of my “Creative Twenty”:

  1. Critical essays, writing responses for other writers.
  2. Editing for other writers.
  3. Book reviews.
  4. Blog posts.
  5. Social media posts.
  6. Curriculum development.
  7. Book proposals, bios, cover letters, etc.
  8. Marketing, business, “work” writing.

This helps me define what IS my “Creative Twenty”:

  1. Journal entries that are first drafts (I hand-write first drafts)
  2. Restructuring projects, including essays, narratives, or books.
  3. Any phase of editing or revision.
  4. Any combination of my projects. For example, I might work on a poem that is two pages in length, then flip to a ten-page essay, then diagram a new short story in my journal only four pages long. This would tally to sixteen pages and I would need to find four more pages somewhere in my life, to work in a  creative way.

Why does this approach work for me? Everyone has a method or a system of some sort. Even those without a system–THAT’S their way.  I prefer to write towards inspiration versus a start-to-finish approach. “Creative Twenty” affords me the opportunity to work on anything at anytime and then file away.

It’s the filing system that matters the most.

I currently have five book projects. Two are collections. Two are full-length novels. One is memoir. I sort my content into projects. One of my writing challenges is some material doesn’t “fit” into a category. At least not yet. Often essays or shorts turn into something more later. But sometimes they retain a “stand-alone” strength and I can submit them for publication as they are, all by themselves. I have a “finished” and “unfinished” filing system for these delectables.

The strength “Creative Twenty” offers is consistent inspiration.

I’m also a system-oriented analytical thinker. I work far better with a method in place, especially creative work, which can become daunting (to me) if not organized.

This is my writing life, how I approach the page, how I keep several working projects organized. My goal in sharing my method isn’t to encourage other writers to emulate this, but instead, to find their own way. Find a way to write that keeps you excited every time you arrive, pen in hand, blank page, blood pulsing, and a sense of eager energy to begin.

Keep the good words flowing.

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This Writing Life…

I recently wrote a 2,000 word fiction story.

In a day.

It’s fairly solid. On first read, aloud and to a colleague, it made sense. I wrote it at midnight in my journal, then woke at five a.m. and tapped it into my laptop. I set it aside for a few hours. Revised it. Corrected overuse of descriptors, reworded my “to be” verbs into something more urgent or interesting, cut unnecessary lines, the ones that proved unable to move the story forward. In the final draft, the word count totaled 1993.

It took me much longer to write the two lines of synopsis.

A day later, I submitted. Or better, I offered.

You might ask, where did this story come from? There are two answers.

The first:  a writing competition. This particular challenge gives a genre, a character, and one other device. The interpretation of each parameter offers some latitude for writers to morph for the sake of art and story. The word count must equal up to 2000 words and the turn around time for this portion of the competition is 72 hours. I love this stuff. It gets me out of my essays and into pure creation.

The second answer proves more difficult. This story has dwelled within me for almost thirty years. I’ve thought about it. Studied these characters. Absorbed the philosophy behind it. Researched answers, even in my twenties, unaware I would use this information later. I’ve marinaded this tale as I’ve walked through life. Its existence in my head began first in my heart and, sometimes, you just need the perfect prompt(s) to pull that one story out of you, to the surface, and onto the page.

The story? I’ll let you know how it measures and, if it does well, I will share.

Keep writing the good words.


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