Almost two months since my last blog entry — ugh. But it’s June now, and classes are over, and although there many administrative cats yet to be herded this month before my stint as English Department Chair expires, I’ve assigned myself the work of doing at least 750 words a day at, yes, 750words.com. So far it’s been pretty rough, just buckets of junk, but the words are coming. This morning a faculty colleague from meteorology, to whom I had testified earlier this semester about the usefulness of 750words when tackling big writing projects, reminded me about why the daily practice is a good thing. I don’t think she’ll mind me quoting her a little bit:
“….I was doing the 750 words every day to get the writing momentum going. After walking through Providence and visiting hurricane related sites, I sat and wrote something like 3000 words about what I saw and what I felt and what it all meant and went a little philosophical about the whole thing. Last month, as I put together the bookends (preface and epilogue), I reread what I wrote then and I practically used the whole thing as my epilogue after just some proofreading and a bit of fixing. If I tried to do this now and revisit the feeling and the details of the trip, it would have never come out as good as it did in the moment…. I was struggling with finding the right voice, the right level (balance between technical and general) and just typing 750 words without worrying about being perfect, quickly helped me find my voice.”
Of course, she also admits to wanting to earn cute bird-themed writing achievement badges. Hey, whatever it takes, right?
Also yesterday I spoke with one of my best friends ever, who is also a poet, and who is reading Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life. He says it’s really speaking to him — so of course I’ve added it to the Goodreads pile. We spoke briefly about this idea of committing to routines or habits that, themselves, don’t crackle with artistic intensity at every go, but which establish, over time, a literal and psychic space, a state of mind, or mindfulness, or readiness, so that when things spark up, you’re ready to have at it. You know what to do and you’re primed to do it.
I don’t get a kickback from 750words (the guy basically runs it for free), but I happily endorse it as a helpful writing tool. It definitely encourages maintaining a daily writing habit. And I WILL write every day in June, even though I forgot to sign up for the formal “monthly challenge” on the site. I wonder if I could go all summer….
I have a writing retreat scheduled for the end of July & beginning of August, and I’m hoping to have at least a month’s worth of 750’s to cull through for new draft-fodder. It’s a great gift to have my schedule shift during the summer so that I can devote some longer chunks of time and attention to free-writing, drafting and revising. I am still struggling to muster the discipline that seems to come so naturally to a few of my writer pals. I’m sure they’d tell me there’s nothing “natural” about it. And I’d agree. I think I’m just lazy. But not this month!