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You're the Voice: Sara on Weapons of Mass Construction

Feb 18,2013
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Neil Gaiman once said You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.

Once upon a time (i.e. before VCE), I used to have this little challenge of writing at least one short story a month. A little ambitiously, I thought that this year I should make it my goal to write one a week. As someone wisely advised somewhere, if you write one story a week, that’s fifty two in a year – and they can’t all be bad. It sounded wonderfully logical and simple in my mind.

I lasted… well, I didn’t. I couldn’t even make the first week. Oops.

I think the mass essay writing last year in literature robbed me of words. To give you an idea of how much I wrote in exam period, my beloved blue pen lost its precious life the day after my exam – it lasted six weeks of intensive use. By my friend’s advice, I have kept it and will one day have it framed under the inscription 'Weapon of Mass Construction'.

At times like these when I get into self-pity, I recall John Flanagan’s opinion on writer’s block:

I write to a schedule. And I stick to it. I don't get writer's block. Writer's block tends to happen to people who haven't planned their story thoroughly before they started writing - they're writing a stream of consciousness type of thing. If you've planned it properly, if you know how it starts, where it goes and how it ends, it's kind of hard to get writer's block. I believe writer's block is a convenient excuse for people who are too lazy to do the necessary preliminary planning.

Okay. I’m lazy. That’s the blunt way of putting it. I think I preferred the other definition.

File 13076Anyway, recalling that day at the State Library where I watched John speak, he acknowledged that sometimes he has a Point A and a Point B… but no idea how to get from one to the other. In this case, he just starts writing about anything – like cooking steak – until he gets into a flow, and then it’s easy.

The way he put it was really funny too, but it makes sense in a way, and I’ve made a mental note of that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me because I don’t even have a Point A. I’m kind of like one of those compasses that keeps spinning and can’t find north.

(Virtual cookies awarded for people who can tell me how many times I’ve used/ referenced to John Flanagan in my posts so far. I know I’ve lost count.)

Further advice comes from Maya Angelou who humbly said What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.” And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” 

I think I can do that.

You see, the reason I’m suddenly inspired to get back to writing (other than simply missing it) is because just this week I got a really cool fountain pen from my friend.

File 13082And this pen deserves to fulfill its life’s purpose, and that honour of helping it achieve the goal falls to me. As for not having time thanks to school, it’s one of those excuses I’ve always hated hearing because it’s rarely true. Like when people claim they don’t have time to read, but then spend hours on Facebook every day. It’s about prioritizing.

If something is important, you’ll find time for it.

So, to anyone who is reading this, I now publicly state that my goal is to start writing again. I want to have a story done by the end of this month (and the end of my reign as The Voice). If I lose, you get to send me a virtual punch. Or a Howler. And if I win… well you’ll be hearing about it in next week’s post. And I get a sticker.

Now that my excuses are gone, my spirits high, and my poor (virtual?) shoulder at risk of being beaten black and blue…  I take out my parchment open Word and write type.

The cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.

For those of you who are always looking for more advice on improving your writing, here are more fantastic tips. *wink wink*

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Feb 25,2013

@Kfinny54 - Thanks all the same for posting. :P It's nice to know people are reading the blogs. Happy birthday for five days ago! :D And welcome to the site.

@Nicole - Hehe, I have amazing brothers who think a little differently, and I spend just enough time around them to have a fraction of that rub off. My brother recommended it to me a litle while ago, and since then I've been recommending it to all my friends. I didn't know he had another video though. There's my motivation to finish my homework tonight (and um, stop procrastinating here xD).

Feb 25,2013

@daydreamer I am in fits of glee. You know who Sir Ken Robinson (he was knighted!) is?!?!?! You are my hero! Isn't his TedX talk on the foundations of education and how it's killed creativity AMAZING.

For anyone who is interested he has two TedX talks. Linked below:

Feb 24,2013

@Nicole - That sounds a lot like me right now. ^^ I blame maths too. Actually I blame maths for a lot of things other than killing creativity. Which reminds me of Ken Robinson's speech about how schools kill creativity (it's awesome). And thank you, I hope violence will be avoided too. :)

@TriSARAHtops - Yes, VCE is a deep, dark place filled with all kinds of sinister things like homework, SACs and stress. Just kidding. ^^ Well, kind of. Anyway, I know some people keep a little journal where they note down things of interest, story ideas, random descriptions, characters etc, whatever else comes to mind. Personally I don't, because my brain does not understand 'informal' and wants to make everything neat and pretty. But hey, if you do that, at least when you're in the mood for writing, all your wonderful ideas are written down. :)

Feb 24,2013

Don't even know why I'm writing this... Whatever... I am bored, so technically (especially after reading this) I could be writing right now, but I can't be bothered... Anyway... I feel really young, I'm only 12 (since 5 days ago) hehe but I love reading & writing! I might actually go write... Nah.... As I said, I don't even know why I'm writing this... Cya

Feb 22,2013

Aside from the fact that after reading this post I am now officially terrified of going into VCE next year, I love the idea of writing a short story every week/month.

I wish I could write everyday, but it isn't a case of that I'm too busy (me? social life? Nooooo), more that I have a short attention span when I sit down and think OKAY LET'S WRITE SOMETHING. Perhaps I might write a sentence, but usually I just end up daydreaming about everything and everything that is not the story I'm trying to write. According to Neil Gaiman, at least, I'm getting ideas by doing that, but I'm sure as hell not getting any writing done. Procrastination wins everytime... :-\

Feb 22,2013

Oh Sara, what a brave soul you are. I found VCE to be the death of creativity for me. It sprang back up as soon as I finished, but for those two years it was a lifeless thing that sat at the back of my consciousness. I blame Maths specifically. No creative good can come from A= B + C.

So I'd just like to cheer your creative writing. Here's hoping I don't have to use my punching arm on you. 


Feb 21,2013

@ambivalence - Sorry I'm a little late in replying. Firstly, I admit that it would be an absolute disaster (I hope sarcasm is carrying across here). Secondly, you are far too kind - I don't even know if I'd read my own blog. :P You must be seeing something there that I don't.. And what can I say, I have awesome friends who understand me. ^^ Yes, I know you well. But that's why when you DO write a story, it's mindblowingly awesome. It's quantity over quality. Right now I have neither. :/ Thanks for the support though. ;) :P Maybe the fear of your wrath will motivate me.

Feb 18,2013

I'm not going to go back and count the Flanagan references, because those virtual cookies will make me fat[ter] and I will never fit into a formal dress (according to my sister) *shock horror gasp*

But anyway, as usual, you have the loveliest way of writing. You really ought to have a blog. And that pen - and the words provided with it - are just superdy perfect, inspiring, and relevant. It's all I can do send myself a present like that.

Admittedly, you would know more than most that I'm the failure as the planner, and writing a story a week? :O Impossible pour moi. But I wish you all the best, pumpkin, and I will gladly inflict virtual *cough cough* violence should you fail ;)

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