Quote of the Week: “We have 40 million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse. So the more we work and the less we talk the better results we shall get.” Rudyard Kipling
Writing Exercise of the Week: Write for 10 minutes with this first line—The water was cold.
Okay, folks, that’s it.
No more stopping me at the post office and telling me you’re not a writer.
No more short (or long) explanations on how you hated English in high school while we’re thumping watermelons at KTA.
No more “I wish I could write the stories of my life, but I don’t know how to begin” sighs as we caffeinate ourselves at Waimea Coffee Company or Starbucks.
No more excuses.
That’s right, I’m cracking the whip here. For starters, this column gives you a writing exercise each week. They’re called “prompts” because they prompt you to write. It doesn’t matter if you have any interest in the prompt or if it’s not something you’d choose to write about. Writing prompts are warm ups, like jumping jacks. They get the blood flowing (or, in this case, your creativity).
Next, don’t give me any of this “I don’t have any time” business. At a minimum, you can find 10 minutes a day. Ten minutes! That’s it. Financial guru Suze Orman recommends finding a way to save $50 a month as a path to financial freedom. Finding 10 minutes a day to write is your path to creative freedom.
“Why?” you might ask. “If I don’t have plans to write a book or make a career out of words and letters on a page, what’s the point?”
In its most basic form, writing is how we communicate. We communicate with ourselves by writing in our journal or drafting our intentions in a will. We communicate with others by writing emails, letters, business plans, articles, blog posts, 140-character tweets and yes, whole books. By writing we clarify who we are, what we want and what we don’t want. Writing encourages us to make things clear—even a simple shopping list specifies what we want or need to get.
Writing as also how we create. We put our ideas and inventions down on paper, and then make them happen. When we try a new recipe, we follow the instructions until, voilà! Something you’ve never cooked before is now sitting on the table, ready for us to dig in. It all starts with writing, and you do it every day.
So back to the writing prompts. Find your 10 minutes, set a kitchen timer, grab a pen and piece of paper. Write out the prompt and then continue writing whatever comes to mind, even if it’s completely unrelated. The prompt doesn’t care which way you go just so long as you go.
Keep your hand moving. Don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross anything out. If you get stuck, write “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck” until something new comes up (something always does). When you’re done, put your writing away and get back to your life.
What this kind of writing does is loosen up those tight and creaky places in our brain and spirit (It’s called free writing for more reasons than one). Do this daily and you’ll see ideas, solutions and endless possibilities start to flow.
This fall Darien will be teaching memoir, writing and publishing classes through Waimea Community Education. Visit waimeaeducation.com for more information.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. Her most recent novel is The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. She also writes under the name Mia King. Visit her at dariengee.com and miaking.com