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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nifty 350 And Rekindling The Writing Fire

Well, well, well. It seems my writing fire didn't die out. There are still a few slightly glowing embers down deep inside. I'd mentioned previously the writers burnout I've been suffering for some six months. Haven't even wanted to think about writing or anything writing related for the most part.

The good news? I can feel those embers slowly starting to burn a little hotter, so it's my job to fan them carefully into a flame without smothering them or burning them too hot and risking the fire going out again.

How do I know the embers are still there? Two things. I actually sat down for about six hours a week or two ago and wrote a little short story. Nothing much, but it was words on the page. And then yesterday at the library, I actually checked out a book on writing, titled Writing A Book That Makes A Difference by Philip Gerard. Haven't done that in eons.

Now I don't know if I'll actually read the whole thing - am currently skimming. But it's feeding the embers.

And over the last couple days I was re-reading an article by James Scott Bell about things a writer can do to keep him or herself motivated. One of them he calls The Nifty 350. Before you do anything else in the morning, just sit down and write 350 words.

Okay, well technically it wasn't the first thing I did this morning. My ancient computer takes a while to fire up and there's medicine to take and the dog to be fed, but you get the drift.

Starting today, I sat down and declared this was a good way to re-introduce myself gradually to writing. So I wrote 350 words this morning. In fact, I wrote 733 words in one brief session.

The key for me is to learn from this long round of burnout - I often put extreme amounts of pressure on myself and my writing to the point of no longer enjoying it. So this for me is going to be a no pressure exercise. My goal is simply 350 words a day. No pressure. It doesn't have to be beautiful or perfect. It just has to be on the page. Starting out, I don't care if it's a scene snip a day from 350 different stories. Just so long as I get something down on paper.

Then the rest will work itself out.

But you know what they say. It takes about a month to make a habit. Today is only day one. But I've got to start somewhere. And indeed, today was a good start.

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