“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”― Ernest Hemingway
I’ve been pushing myself to write more. That’s always what a writer wants to do, write more and more. Well, we want the freedom to be able to write as much as want, but life dictates otherwise — bills have to be paid, groceries bought, children cared for, laundry folded — there’s just so much.
That being said, I’m trying an experiment. Let’s call it a social experiment where I’ll test the waters of my dismal focus and push myself to produce more than I have in the past few months.
Instead of using my desktop with the fancy monitor and cushy chair, I’ve reverted back to using my laptop. I unplug it and whatever charge I have on the battery, I have to race it until the red warning pops up that tells me I’m going to lose everything and I need to either plug-in or shut down. Then, and only then, can I say I’m finished for the time being.
It’s like a writing sprint and I’m the only participant. I started this blog post with 27% battery life and am working to beat the clock and get something online that is relevant to what I’m doing and which might be relevant to other writers.
Watching my fingers fly across the keyboard is a beautiful thing as it forces me into a position where I don’t have time to dilly-dally nor dawdle. The only thing I can do is write and I’ll write like the demons of hell are chasing after me in order to get the words out of me and into a form that’s ready for reading.
My husband has said it’s like watching an F1 race on the keyboard. As I push myself to focus and press on, instead of meander around the internet, I am less distracted by social media and just one more website that I need to visit.
I imagine I’m in a cafe, sitting in one of my favorite cities, and the only thing I have to do is write. Of course, I wish some of the words I were writing were like Hemingway, but a girl can dream. That being said, I do tend to write short, terse sentences, but I prefer not to get lost in the more flowery language, instead I create descriptions that are raw and perfunctory.
12% — do or die time. This is where I end for now. I’ll plug-in to charge and work on my chapter, hoping I get to 2k words tonight. Maybe I’ll give myself a percentage I need to stop at as the charge increases, who knows. If I do, I’m sure I’ll tell you about it.
I’m writing a novel. This isn’t a moment where I’m making some profound statement about my work, nor am I asking you to throw glitter and toot a horn. I am actually questioning my sanity at the moment.
The idea of a character came to me — she’s so perfect — so delicious in a matronly blue-hair, girdle type of way. Even her name makes me laugh when I say it.
What’s my conundrum?
The other characters.
I know who they are and who they’re supposed to be, but I can’t name them. I’ve spent hours pacing the floor, yelling out into the void “What is your name?” and they continue to hide.
I have a friend who published”Characters Without a Book.” My characters have a book, they’re just being incredibly stubborn about telling me WHO they are.
Naming characters is a challenge. Not only do I want to make sure the name suits the character, but that it fits the era (or in this case, eras) and works with the geography. While my book is based in the US, the area is a small Southern town I know and is unique in the names of the “native born” who have inhabited the area for a few centuries.
And so, I will sit here with my notebook and a list of names I’ve scribbled over various pages and debate. In a few weeks, I’ll travel to said town to visit the library and look at old yearbooks from the past and pick random first and last names and fill in the pages of the same notebook as I work to give my characters a name.
If I’m going to tell their life story, they deserve a great name.
Today on Twitter, the hashtag #WhyIWrite has been floating around. So far, there are 66.9k tweets — too many to read, but many are missing. I’ve wanted to tweet why I write all day. There aren’t enough characters allowed in a tweet for me to express my thoughts and feelings.
When I was younger, I wanted a voice. As a young woman raised in the South, I wasn’t allowed to have one due to societal mores. The expectations were for me to sit quietly, answer with a polite yes or no ma’am/sir and look pretty. Writing kept my sanity in check.
I didn’t write for many years. Nosy family members read my personal journals and no matter where I hid them, they would snoop until they found them. Lack of privacy stopped me from practicing my craft.
Even now, fear digs at, and prevents me, from putting words on paper. It’s paralyzing. Yet the fear of not writing is even stronger. It is palpable.
My name is Lisa, and I am a writer.
I write because I’m a storyteller.
I write because I have to.
I write because I am afraid I’ll explode if I don’t.
I write because it is who I am.
I write because I don’t have a choice.
I write because I refuse to be quiet.
I write because I can.
I write because crafting a story fills my soul.
I write because I can tell one hell of a story.
I write to express myself.
I write to make a statement.
I write to discover myself.
I write because I don’t want to wake up one day and look back on a lifetime of regrets for not writing.
I would write even if I didn’t earn one dime.
I will never stop writing. I can’t stop writing.
Writing isn’t a choice. It is who I am.
I write for me.
What we’re reading can have a profound effect on what we’re writing. Who we’re reading can have an even more profound effect on us personally. I’ve been thinking a lot about WHO I’m reading versus what I’m reading and how it’s changing me personally.
While I won’t go into detail right now, I’ll share a list of who I am reading.
- Zadie Frost — “White Teeth”
- Margaret Bradham Thornton — “Charleston”
- Medeleine Marsh — “Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty From Victorian Times to the Present Day “
- Wilma Dykeman — “The French Broad”
- Nina George — “The Little Paris Bookshop”
- Charles B. Handy — ” The Second Curve: Thoughts on Reinventing Society”
My current list is pretty female heavy and varied. I love finding new books and my friends who write are also great readers. If you have a few minutes, I’d love for you to share who you’re reading in the comments.
There are days you sit down to write and the screen stays blank. You sit in a nondescript chair in an unknown location and question yourself, what you’re writing, and who you’re writing it for.
Those days can suck your soul dry.
Maslow said “a musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself”.
I was the person sitting in the nondescript chair in the unknown location staring at a blank screen. Even my mind was — blank. I had no idea what to say. No idea why I was there. I certainly had no idea who I was supposed to be doing this for and then I realized how wrong I was.
You see, I’m not supposed to write for anyone. I’m supposed to write for me. Sitting in front of a screen, waiting for words to come for other people is how you can guarantee it will stay blank. My screen has been blank for quite a few weeks.
This evening, I’m making a point to sit here and write for myself. We will call it an exercise in practice. If someone happens upon this blog post and reads it, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay too.
You see, writing is about the writer. At least it is for me. I lost sight of that some time ago. My words are just that, they are mine. Writing is an exercise I should value. When I write for myself, I am allowed to experiment and find my soul in the words.
Is it important for writers to choose not to appeal to readers or markets? We inspect our feelings and the events that shaped us in order to make sense of life through what we write. This freedom allows us to create without abandon. I like creating, but I also like structure — which causes internal struggle.
For now, I will write for me. If I don’t, I’ll never write again.
A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.
– Sidney Sheldon