Updated: Jul 17
A few years ago, I decided the best way to get myself into the habit of writing daily was to write a minimum of 4,000 words a day. Most of what I typed the first few days was not useful for any story or article, but that was not the main point of the exercise. The point was to get into the habit of writing freely without thinking too much about having good ideas first. It was about the sixth or seventh day into this exercise that I would look back to see a story had started to develop without my being conscious of it.
The common threads I found did not flow together like a typical story would, but there were snippets of scenes and characters mixed in throughout the text that were consistent in theme. I picked those bits out and saved them in a separate file, as I thought they could easily be used for something later. Unfortunately, that particular story stalled, but the activity was a success in that I managed to develop some solid ideas I could use for other pieces, and writing 4,000 words a day was no longer a difficult chore. Most writers are familiar with Writer’s Block, when they hit a point where they have a blank page mocking a mind that has gone blank the moment they sit down to write. Perhaps this is one of the most defining moments when someone will decide to work their way through this difficulty, or move over to the couch, turn on the television, and say, “I will write that later."
When is later? Writing is an art and specialized skill. Much like cooking or painting, while anyone can put pen to paper, not everyone has the patience, the discipline, or the desire to spend the time reading, studying, practicing, and improving their craft. We have gone from a world in which the ability to read and write was a luxury, a privilege of the wealthy who could put the money and time towards such frivolous activities. Today, with more children being given the opportunity to obtain an education, the ability to read and write is something we take for granted. Who has not had the idea to write that great book, live off the royalties of a best seller, or be that famous author people desire an autograph from? There are those who dream of writing their life story, publishing fiction novels, or children’s stories, or being recognized for the next big unique piece of literature that will blow the minds of readers around the world. Dreams are nice to have, but they do not spontaneously solidify into a truth in this world without some effort. That blank page sitting before you with the blinking cursor screaming, “I’m ready when you are!” is not going to fill itself. You are going to have to mark that page with some words, whatever they may be. Perhaps you will go on a rant about that very irritating habit your spouse has that drives you up the wall before the flow of writing turns to a story. The ideas will come, but you have to start writing to get your mind working in the way you need it to. Start with a light goal, and then add to it as you develop the habit. The cursor awaits your instruction. It is time to let go and begin!