You're the Voice: Sara on Weapons of Mass Construction
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.
Anyway, 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.
And 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*