This should read “A Day in the Life of THIS Writer, and it’s just ONE day in the life of this writer. Everyone approaches how they write in different ways. Disciplined writing and scheduled writing are a bit of a myth for most of us. Published authors with a following and books that have hit the best-seller list, likely treat writing as the business that it is. The rest of us – or maybe I should say most of us – struggle with getting our books or articles or short stories or poetry before an audience. But we keep trying.
2:30 a.m. Jolt awake with a story idea – It’s there. It’s brilliant! The characters are falling all over themselves to be noticed. The plotline begs to be written, but it is 2 freaking 30 in the morning!
7 a.m. Stagger out of bed. The idea? What was it? Was the protagonist the woman with red hair or the one with a scar? Scar? Was there something about a scar? The plot. Yeah, the plot. This woman – maybe with a scar – goes in to have her teeth cleaned but the dentist is really…
7:05 a.m. Oh, right teeth, morning routine. Shower away sleep fog and think about the story. It was so damned brilliant! A best seller for sure. Notebook and oatmeal side-by-side on the breakfast table, think about the story that woke me at 2 freaking 30 a.m. … … … … It’ll come to me… … … … I’ll let it marinate while I tidy up.
7:30 a.m. Morning chores with notebook handy. Write down anything remotely recalled from brilliant idea. Chores complete, notebook depressingly empty.
10 a.m. Writing time. Butt in chair, start fresh or return to what I was working on yesterday. The Brilliant Idea has gone stale, but what I’ve been working on has promise. Stick it out. Get it done. Write.
2 (or 3 or 4) p.m. Review and revise, maybe even think about submitting. The work finished two weeks ago has mellowed like fine wine (maybe). Time to look it over for errors, possible revisions, and overall readability. Can it be saved, or is it time to chuck it? Or is it time to (hyperventilating here) send it out in hopes it will be accepted for publication?
It often feels like there is no endgame for writers. Life interferes with writing. The above example doesn’t take into account daily emails and texts, other projects demanding one’s time, unexpected life events, coffee with your mate, a wild hair that takes you down a divergent path. Which takes us back to discipline. I’m reading Waymarks for Authors, by Chris Lewando. She makes the point that as writers, we make a choice each day, to write or not to write. It’s up to us. No one is forcing us to write. It’s the individual writer’s decision, day-by-day, whether she or he will put pen to page or fingertips to keyboard. This should be a given, but face it, we’re often guilted into believing we have to write every day or treat writing time as sacrosanct. At what point does the thing you enjoy stop being joyful and become drudgery? That fine line is drawn by each individual.
I love to write. I do it every day. That’s me. That doesn’t have to be everyone. Just me.
Am I successful as a writer? It depends on your measuring stick. I’ve been published in the local paper and regional papers; in a state-wide and a couple of regional magazines, certainly on my personal website, which – yes – I do count, and I have indie published six books and two chapbooks of poetry. So, in that I am a published author, I count that as success.
Financial success is a different measuring stick and for many, the only one that counts. I’ve always been paid for my work as a freelance writer. Success. The books I’ve written have not gained traction, at least to the point of financial success. I’ve sold enough to pay for printing and a tad more. That’s it. Is it enough? I keep writing, so, I guess the answer is either yes, or, it doesn’t matter; I’m going to keep writing anyway.
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Hello, Writing Friends and the Merely Curious:
My Personal Poem a Day Challenge is only in its sixth day, but I’m pleased to say, I’ve written a poem every day since May 1, after having written – along with a bunch of other writers – 30 poems in April. The May 6 poem was inspired by the aroma of cut grass and dandelions that wafted through the window as I drove home from town.
The smell of cut grass
shot color into my world
and my whole self smiled.
Being inspired in this way reminds me of the recent Dreams and Creativity seminar featuring Jan Beurskens sponsored by the Las Vegas Literary Salon. Writing inspiration comes from many experiences. Dream symbolism is something I’ve been trying to explore since the seminar, but I have yet to remember a dream after the fact.
Sight, smell and emotional response to something seen or experienced is more likely to get my brain firing with ideas.
Mary Rose Henssler, one of the Lit Salon team members, wrote a great “kick-in-the-pants” article on the Salon website. Sometimes, that’s what we need, a little jog to get our writing out of a self-created rut.
Prompts are great ways to stimulate one’s thinking. You might not even use the prompt, but it’s food for your fertile brain so you can come up with something more, something different. If you are stuck, Google ‘writing prompts’ or ‘poetry prompts’ and be ready for the deluge of websites that have tons of them.
Here are a few links to get you started:
700+ Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You Right Now
500 Writing Prompts to Help Beat Writer’s Block
125 Of The Best Poetry Writing Prompts For Poets | Writer’s Relief
101 Poetry Prompts & Creative Ideas for Writing Poems
I know, daunting, isn’t it? But when you run through these, you see they represent a myriad of life experiences or ideas you’ve probably already had. It becomes doable to give the basic idea legs by adding your own experiences or creative thinking to the mix.
Writing is most often spurred by simply sitting down, and going at it. Writing is work. The more time you put into it, the better you get. You can spend a lot of time getting down the basics of grammar, plot development, character profiles, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad girl (or vice versa), but until you sit down and pound away at the keyboard, all that know-how will be for naught.
The greatest deterrent to writing is – I hate to say it – being afraid your work will never see the light of day, or laziness, only you can decide.
So, write, but after that – or in the process, look for outlets for your work. I have a writing friend who doesn’t believe writers should give their work away, that payment represents validation. “If you don’t value your work,” she says, “how will anyone else?” She has a point. And her next point is as important: getting published is hard work and you have to work hard at it.
Why am I writing a poem a day for 365 days? It’s writing practice, but my plan is to indie publish the best of the poems in a collection. Entrepreneurial publishing is gaining ground and I already have experience in the field. See my author page on this site. Click on the Books tab in the menu for links to the books I’ve written.
It matters not what you’re writing – fiction, nonfiction, poetry – the satisfaction you derive from creating a work from start to finish, is a reward all its own. Avoid apologizing for what you’ve written after the fact. You did it, maybe you made some errors or your work didn’t get the recognition (sales) you hoped for, let it be. Move on. Learn from your fumbles so your next project is an improvement over the last. Every new book, or article, or poem, or short story is its own creation.
There is a book on the market called Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success). I’m not recommending this book because I haven’t read it, but I like the title’s message. Write. Publish. Repeat.
What are your writing tips and tricks? What fires you up for writing. Enter your thoughts in the comments and I’ll share them in a follow-up post.
I just completed the Writer’s Digest 30-day Poem-a-Day challenge. I posted a poem every day – based on a prompt provided by Robert Lee Brewer – and loved every minute of it. This isn’t the first year I’ve done this challenge, but sometimes I’m playing catch up from the get-go or rushing madly to get all the poems done by April 30. I found doing them day by day so much better and way more satisfying.
So, why can’t I write poems every day the rest of the year? Why do I need a prompt kick in the pants to sit down and compose poetry? It’s not a lack of inspiration. I often convert my spiritual practice of writing devotionals into poetry based on Bible verses. Life generally is full of poetic fodder. With that in mind, I plan to continue the exercise of writing a poem a day until April 30, 2022.
Let it be said, my hand hovered over the delete button as soon as I typed that last sentence, but I stopped myself.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve neglected my writing in recent months. The poem-a-day challenge ignited the flickering embers of banked creativity into a flame. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, but it’s for external projects; not the kind of writing that feeds the author within.
In the comments, let me know what you think of the poetry posted below, three among the thirty I wrote in April, AND if you have a prompt you would like to see a poem about, leave it in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.
The Day 4 prompt was to write an active poem. How do you think I did?
Why is my brain
a runaway train?
I write my thought,
will it come to naught?
I dither and stir,
mind in a whir.
Words flow out,
like a garish shout!
I want to sleep,
but will they keep?
These words, I pray,
will be good, another day.
The Day 7 prompt was to write a villain poem. I rather enjoyed writing this one, and if you don’t know who Natalie Goldberg is, you might want to check her out. She is a writing guru!
The thieves of creativity
chew me up and spit me out.
gremlins of doubt, fear, anxiety,
chip away at my confidence,
and then, I Natalie Goldberg them,
and write anyway, as though someday,
someone will read my words
and smile… or not.
Day 11 had to be a prime number poem, which of course, begged the question, what the hell is a prime number? Math is NOT my strong suit. As it turns out, 3 is a prime number. So here’s my Haiku in tribute to the prompt.
Two wings and a beak
tiny talons grip a fence
merry spring arrives.
If you’re a writer, happy writing. I hope this post is an inspiration. If you’re a reader, THANK YOU! Please follow this website, like this post, comment, and if you’re moved to do so, share.
Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. Click the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work and to order my books. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The greatness of our God
cannot be imagined by us;
our minds simply are not big enough.
We can’t praise him enough,
thank him enough,
worship him enough.
God can make much of the little we have.
Give him all you’ve got.
He is present in every day.
Live life accordingly,
– by your actions –
your deep and abiding faith
Shout His praise with joy! For great is the Holy One. Isaiah 12:6 NLT