I just got off the phone with a friend of mine in Boise. He is working on a novel and has written himself into a corner. Not unusual, happens to the best of us.
The problem is he stopped writing and let his confusion get the better of him.
After exploring a variety of plot and character development ideas, I told him to go back to the computer and pound the keys. Don’t worry about sentence structure, character or plot development or even spelling (provided he can read back what he wrote.) Just pound the keys and keep pounding until he got to 1,500 to 2,000 words.
And, since he is recovering from surgery and can’t go to his day job, I suggested he have lunch and then get back on the computer for another 2,000 words.
Why. Simple. Eventually the words will gel into ideas that will become elements of the story. First, though, he has to clear out the cobwebs, chase away the spiders and see whats left that is usable.
Its an old trick but it works. I used it a lot when I was writing for radio and television, especially when I was trying to come up with something clever for a commercial. Or a unique lead in to a news story. Or something I would hand to the DJ to read cold that would make him break up on the air.
Certain types of writers are evil.
Now to get to the part where I practice what I preach. One of the original ideas for this blog was to write something every day and, in particular, in the area of 1,000 words. I have to admit I’ve been remiss in my duties.
The whole point of existence for a writer is to write, whether for pay or for self-expression. I am currently not a paid writer, but I’m working my way back toward that reality slowly but surely. It ain’t easy, but it is a lot of fun.
Part of that process is this blog and my intention to write an average of 1,000 words a day rain or shine. Short of being on my death bed, I will find, make or create a way to do it. I might even cheat and write a few columns in advance.
Along the way, I will share my life, some of my trials and tribulations at becoming a full-time writer (and maybe self-publisher.)
Where the content of this blog goes on a daily basis depends on what crosses my mind. There are no rules short of writing 1,000 words a day and taking my advice to pound the keys.
Truth be known, though, I will be writing more than my share of words a day, because I will also be working on one book or another, which will also require another 1,000 words. Needless to say, I will be busy. I may even have to learn to type faster.
Why 1,000 words?
When I wrote for newspapers, I created my columns on an IBM Selectric. I had to feed the paper into the typewriter without getting a paper cut and do my best to beat the deadline.
I knew almost to the line how many sheets of paper one-thousand words would take up. It became my comfort zone and my stop point. I figured once I got to a thousand words, I had told enough of a story. All the details were presented in a nice, concisely presented package of information.
Now I have to rely on the word counter on my computer and my ability go shrink the typeface to fit my one thousand words on a single page.
What Happens When You Hit A Wall…
My discussion about how I wrote columns and chose 1,000 words has run its course, at least as far as I am concerned, but I still have to reach my goal. So what do I do in this case? Simple, I change the subject.
I want to get back to my friend in Boise, for a moment. As we got to know each other, I started to share some of my more interesting experiences from Vietnam. I told my stories tounge-in-cheek, but there was always an element of truth to what I was sharing.
My stories eventually became The Ruining Man series, which is currently available on Amazon.com. Its a series of books about black opps, things that never existed, and things that go bump in the night. (I helped him write the first book. The rest he did on his own.)
He was very clever about promoting the book and was able to arrange an autograph table at a local bookstore in Boise.
Now he has caught the publishing “bug” and is working on a new series which, as I understand it, might include a little time travel. But, since its a work in progress, I’m no more sure of where its going than he is.
A Word About Motivation
Its a windy and rainy day outside my window. A good day to curl up with a warm computer and pound out some thoughts and ideas, even if they are random and follow no particular pattern.
For some reason my thoughts are wandering to the rotund Raccoon that lumbers around our neighborhood during the day. Most c are nocturnal and shun the light of day. Maybe he is a vampire whose powers work in reverse – he sleeps during the night and wanders the streets of Winslow during the day looking for fresh eggs.
I also wonder about the Red Foxes, Deer and especially the illusive Black Bear rumoured to wander the back roads of Bainbridge Island. I’ve never seen him, but I have felt his presence from time to time as I walk to work at night. He wears a trench coat, a pork pie hat and smokes Havana cigars.
I also hear he is fond of poker. If you find him and get into a game with him, a word to the wise. Let him win!
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