Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Week 1 - Why Do I Write?

Every week during 2012, I aim to discuss a technical element of writing, with reference to various 'How To Write' books, and from the perspective of a beginner (that's me).  Accompanying each piece will be two writing exercises.  I will endeavour to complete exercises, or at least, to think about their objectives in other pieces that I am working on.

I am not yet limiting myself to a particular genre, and although I enjoy non-fiction writing (like this blog), I will be concentrating specifically on both short and long forms of fiction writing.

Week 1 (1 Jan - 7 Jan)  - Why Do I Write?
(How fortuitous that this question was on the Writer's Digest site this week.)

Even as a new writer, I think it is easy to get sidetracked by the illusion that being a 'published writer' is the ultimate goal, but surely there is more to it than that. 

For me, I am drawn by the power of the written word, and the challenge of mixing and matching language and thoughts to arrive at images that evoke emotion.  Sometimes, entertainment and the feeling of escape is enough; and sometimes, writing serves as a tool for self-discovery and expression.

With the latter idea in mind, I will refer to Anne Lamott's excellent book, Bird by Bird.  Lamott relates a number of personal experiences that have inspired her to write and suggests that we all have this inspiration at our fingertips.

The two exercises for this week aim to: a) set some goals so that I might remained focused; and b) get in touch with my writer's soul by writing to express. 

Exercise One. List ten writing goals for 2012.  Break down as many as possible into details or steps and tentative timelines.  (I will be checking in on these at the end of each month.)

Exercise Two.  Write a piece about a distinct childhood memory.  Be Honest - no one need read this!

Week 2 will talk about dealing with the 'inner critic' and other voices that stop us from writing.


  1. Great start! Look forward to more.

  2. Thanks anon. I'm still figuring it out. E

  3. As someone who is thinking about putting pen to paper and writing about their own experiences - is motivating reading your viewpoint as a 'beginner writer' - yep, ignore those inner critics and write - whatever the outcome!

  4. Yes, once I realised that writing on paper (or computer) is not the same as carving in stone, ie it can be changed (or deleted) and that 'showing other people' was optional, writing became a whole lot easier. Good luck! E

  5. Okay Egg...I decided, in my methodicalness, to just start at the beginning! Luckily, I don't have to wait each week for the next installment, but have (at this point) forty-four to go through before getting caught up.

    I've heard great things about Anne Lamont's book. I'll have to get it, now that several people I know have recommended it.

    I've always creatively written, kept journals, etc., for my own benefit and pleasure. I've written non-fiction articles, but for corporate mags, and did copy write for a fashion rag. Fun, but I'm at the point of branching out and putting my creativity to work.

    Deciding on a genre has been difficult for me. I like too many of them, but most of my stuff tends to lean toward YA, Sci-Fi (supernatural, not space), and Literary. We'll see where I eventually land.

    I'll do these exercises more for myself, but once I catch up with you in real time, we can do them together. Thanks for offering this up!!

    1. Welcome aboard Mike. I haven't done all the exercises but I think about what each is trying to achieve and find myself looking for the 'point' in what I'm reading. I've been amazed at what I've learnt just from being more aware.

      One reason I have the 'How-to' book review page is because I own only some of these books and I have a bad memory. I don't have the shelf-space, money or inclination to pack or throw out whenever I move, every book I want. The library probably has Lamott's book. Check it out (or buy it - whatever works). If you like solid but easy to read, technical tips, look out for 50 Strategies for Every Writer. You'll see I refer to it often.

      Like you, my background is in technical writing with a bit of science thrown in. (I get ridiculous satisfaction out of not referencing properly here. Sad, I know.)

      I'm the same with genre selection and have decided, why choose? In my 'learning and growing' phase, I'm trying just about everything I can, some styles proving more successful than others. (On the pseudonym thing, my lack of identity allows me to post a whole heap of experimental crap, as a psychological boost, without worrying about how it'll brand me... but that's another issue.)

      If you want to add to or argue about anything you read here, I'm always up for a good discussion. That's how we learn, after all, isn’t it?


    2. The book review page is a great idea...I may open a page like that on my own blog. Yes, I've gone to the library and done the same thing; I can't afford every book that comes along, but it doesn't mean that I don't want the information. I'm going to the library today and will look for Anne's book.

      Yeah...I haven't limited myself to a genre, but know what I essentially write. My literary style is completely different than YA, but it's two sides of my personality.

      Now, on to week two. I have a pesky inner critic that I've been trying to tame. Should be a good exercise!