I kept a journal on my semi-vacation, writing whatever nonsense came into my head, creating a weird hybrid of travelogue and brainstorm. There’s a lot in there on whatever the news happened to be going on about–gay marriage and a certain chicken-based food purveyor make appearances–but there’s also this piece of gibberish:
Every piece of advice you’ll read on writing says the same thing: write what you know. But that’s playing the game on easy mode. But what about the nightmare mode?
I say put down 500 words you’d do anything not to have to write.
Are you pro-life? Compose a 500 word essay written to convince anyone who reads it to support abortion rights. Are you an atheist? Write a 500-word proof of God. Hate gays? Write a 500 word argument for gay marriage.
Mean every word of it; don’t cheat. Do everything you can to sell the idea to others. Give it an honest attempt, do your homework, and write the most convincing essay in the history of the world.
I’ve looked back at this bit every other day since I wrote it. It’s a damn good exercise, with everything going for it: fair word count; the need for research; a moral challenge that forces you out of your own head.
Most of all, I think anyone who loves writing can have serious fun with something like this.
These thoughts are ultimately why I decided to write some words about basketball in the coming months. Not that I exactly hate basketball, and I certainly don’t find it morally terrible. No, I just find it boring and know almost nothing about it.
Yesterday I threw down a gauntlet and challenged myself to write–for months–about a subject I couldn’t care less about. More, it’s a subject with a bottomless well of background I’ll have to drain in order to appear even remotely qualified. And, the cherry on the top of that delicious little sundae? I get to do it out in public–no less than one post a week.
Writing exercise? Writing challenge? Whatever it is, it’s filled with just the right kind of masochism that makes a work-a-holic word-junkie like me shiver with antici…pation.
I’m curious as to what you think of it. Would a project like this tickle you like it tickles me?
Anyway, my goals.
On Sunday, I added a social networking/promo piece to this goal, since I haven’t missed a post yet. Several fellow ROWers weighed in on an earlier post and suggested commenting on other people’s blogs was a great way to become a part of the community and draw people to your own stuff.
To that end I expanded my blog-reading horizon and have begun checking at least ten other blogs every day, figuring the more I read, the more I’ll end up commenting on. So far it’s going well. There are a bunch of great people out there, and I’m having no problem finding other writers to chat with.
Articles go up, articles get written, articles get revised. I’m not quite hitting my one article a day goal, but I blame that on my daughter. Per mutual agreement, I get two or three hours of uninterrupted work, then it’s time to play. I’d complain, but my daughter is my favorite person in the world, and it’s crazy fun to hang out with her.
I’m also slowly coming more to grips with the lack of visual, measurable progress I’m making. As I wrote before, there’s a lot of research involved in what I’m going for, and how do you track something like that? Pages read? Notes taken?
“I will become 5% more knowledgable on this subject each week.”
Any suggestions on how to account for such madness would be appreciated. A number of articles per week works well when you’re mostly going for short pieces, but not if you’re writing a longish piece on a complex subject.