May is for Writing: Week 1

Every month I’m picking one skill to practice everyday for a month and updating my progress every Monday. I call it Project Incremental. Read up on how it all got started. 

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We’re only 6 days into the month so May is still new and fresh. I’m writing everyday. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. Most of the time, I play things by ear have no idea what I’m going to write until my fingers bungle about on the keyboard for a few minutes. Once the words start coming though, I don’t want to stop. I might take a break for yarn but words keep flowing in bits and pieces. When enough pile up, it’s time to go back to the page. 

The day before this project started I wandering around bookstores and trying to decide between Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I’ve heard amazing things about both books but decided to begin with On Writing. I devoured that book. I stayed up past 4 AM several nights just to finish. The first half of the book and several postscripts acts as a short memoir. The second half contains King’s sixteen rules of writing. Reading about the life and practices of an author I’ve been following since my early teens was a welcome peak behind the curtain.

Rule One: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” 

I’ve already got the reading part covered since I’ve made a concerted effort to read more books this year. My handy spreadsheet, complete with pie chart, tells me I’ve read 25 books this year and that I’m in the middle of 3 others. Voracious reading is there to teach you how to write through observation. I really hope I’ve learned something from the hundreds and hundreds of books I’ve read over the years.

So May is all about working on the writing half of the equation. During the first few days I gave myself 15 minutes but I quickly switched to a minimum word count of 500 instead. Depending on the day, 15 minutes could only see a few sentences or it could see a whole page. Going for a word count lets me ignore the ticking clock and just get some words on the page. They might be horrible but you have to start somewhere. So far I managed to write more than 500 words per day, everyday completely separate from anything I’m working on for the site or other projects.

Writing, compared with last month’s project, daily knitting on the Norma blanket, is so much harder. Last month I had a pattern, numerous charts, and all of my materials. The work - aside from the actual knitting - was already done for me. The knitting could get boring because I knew what was ahead of me. When it comes to writing, I have no clue. It’s a wild and welcome adventure.