On Writing, and Other Things

Books, Ramblings, Writing 3 Comments

I have a new regimen. This is a different regimen than my new “do a half-hour of circuit training three times per week” regimen. This is a more intellectual pursuit, and it consists of three parts.

The first part is that I have started writing again. The plan is this: one thousand words per day, minimum, outside of weblogs and personal journals. The trick here is that the subject matter has to be different. No blithering on for one thousand words about the random crap with which I filled my day. No talking about websites or games or other random crap I found on the internet. This is supposed to be more exploratory stuff — fiction, non-fiction, whatever. Exploration into realms about which I do not normally write. Delving deep into memory and self to carve out pieces and put those on paper. It’s actually a lot less cliche than it sounds.

I’ve been on this new regimen for three days now. The first day I managed to get twenty-one hundred words out before I faltered and fell silent. Day two was seventeen-hundred words. Day three (just now) was another seventeen-hundred. I’m not allowed to cheat, either. If I do two thousand words on one day, it doesn’t mean I get out of the one thousand words the next. Minimum one thousand words, every day. Maximum: unlimited. No carryovers. No touchbacks. Tag.

It has been interesting so far, in that I’ve already found myself thinking about what I could write about at various points throughout the day. I could write about my childhood heros, perhaps, or my recently acquired love of cooking. Maybe I could put out a thousand words about Zen and what it means to me, or at least how I interpret it (which, for what it’s worth, is probably quite unlike what any real Zen student would tell you). How about how I learned to love reading and language? Maybe a piece about my utter disdain for current advertising and marketing and how they’re missing the boat by trying to lie to us incessantly, bombarding us with blipverts that we simply Do Not Believe (seriously, guys, your audience is smarter than you think). I could easily churn out one thousand words about joining a (women-only) gym and starting a new workout regimen (don’t let anyone tell you for even a second that women are less competitive than men). A thousand words about the death and secret rebirth of television as a medium for storytelling. A thousand words about my first trip to the local library (which I haven’t yet done). When I think of it, I jot these ideas down for later retrieval, but haven’t needed to use them yet.

When I actually sit down to write, of course, all bets are off. As yet, there has been no pre-planning. Tonight’s Daily (I’m calling them Dailies) started off with a somewhat vociferous rant against Margaret Atwood which churned itself into a thousand words about Canadian Culture. Yesterday was about cooking, food, dinner parties, and some reflections thereupon. The day before was (quick pause while I go check) about embracing change, later turning into a bit about the strange clash between horror and beauty that we all endure every single day. None of these topics were preselected — they just happened to be what poured out of my brain and into the keyboard while I had the word processor open to a blank page.

Naturally, the vast majority of what I’ve written is utter trash. Breathless at times, totally disorganized, wholly unrevised. Just raw. But that’s ok. For now, that’s all I want — I just want to get into the habit of producing a certain amount of raw content on a daily basis. Writing, you see, has two phases. Generating raw content is, by necessity, the first. The second, which can only happen once the raw content is available, is revising. Unlike sculptors, writers don’t start with a block of material and just spend their time taking away the parts that don’t belong. We need to create the block first, and only then can we start chipping away at the edges. Right now, I just need to produce giant chunks of rough marble.

The second part of my new writerly regimen is this, my weblog. In addition to the one thousand word not-for-other-people minimum, I intend to spend ten to fifteen minutes churning out an entry for my weblog (not including revision and additions). This has two purposes. First, it will mean my weblog gets updated daily, which I’m hoping will draw in more readers. Behind this interminably timid exterior, I really do crave an audience. Second, it will get me used to the idea of actually writing for an audience every day. The one thousand word minimum is all well and good, but if I don’t get used to the idea of having other people actually read my writing, I’ll eventually end up cheating by typing the word “house” a thousand or more times, until the word itself becomes utterly nonsensical and loses all meaning. So, yeah. The weblog entries are intended to keep me at least partially anchored in reality. Writers write to be read. Anything else is just intellectual wanking.

The third and final part of my new regimen involves reading. I used to read a lot. Books upon books every week. I had no TV, I wasn’t caught up in the whole gaming craze, I wasn’t yet jacked into the Matrix (read: Internet). I had a lot of hours to fill, and I gleefully filled them with books. In bulk. When I lived in Montreal I would spend $300-$500 every paycheque on books, often going downtown daily just to browse the bookshops.

Then I stopped reading. Not entirely of course, but from a diet of three or four books per week, I ended up down to about one per month, usually read in ten page increments right before bed. That’s no damned good. I love reading, and so I’m going to make time for it again. I don’t have a minimum daily allotment, but I’d like to be able to spend a couple of hours every day, on average, just sitting on my butt with a book.

And with that, I think I shall.

(43 mins, including revision. 1056 words. So much for 10-15 mins.)

3 Responses to “On Writing, and Other Things”

  1. Mary Says:
    July 28th, 2005 at 1:25 am

    Are you after a talkative weblog audience, or is a passive one acceptable?

    I’ve been happy with a statically sized passive audience for a long time, but I’ve ended up enjoying discussion oriented livejournals a lot too. I don’t have time to run one though.

  2. TheDude Says:
    August 1st, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    good luck dria! i always look forward to your blog entries. :)

  3. TheDude Says:
    August 1st, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    good luck dria! i always look forward to your blog entries. :)

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