One Thousand Words on Writing About Writing Advice

As much as I am enjoying this writing project, there are some nights where I just resent the whole thing.

Tonight, for instance. It’s Friday. I’m tired. I feel kind of head-achy and sick to my stomach.

All I want to do is go to bed, read for a few minutes and sleep. But my computer is calling me. “You need to write. Write, damn it!”

I know it’s not the computer calling me, but my own guilt. I’ve set this goal for myself and when I fail (which I do every four or five days or so), it makes me feel badly.

So even when I don’t feel like it, I open the computer and stare at it. My mind is a blank, the page is a blank.

Some nights I just end up giving in. I close the computer and return it to its place on the desk.

Other nights I torture myself and write a crappy post.

I never go back and read these posts. I cringe to even think about it.

Actually, I rarely go back and read any of my posts, other than the fiction, and I’m not sure I ever will.

Once in a while someone will make a comment that makes me want to re-read what I wrote, but I find it a little like looking at your old class pictures. You think “what was I thinking with that hairstyle?” or “Did I really own a sweater that ugly?”

When looking back at my posts, I think “Why on earth did you write that?” and “That’s the stupidest sentence I’ve ever read.”

Other nights I’ll plunge in and start to write a post, but end up abandoning it after a few hundred words. Either I run out of things to say about the topic or the desire to go to sleep wins out over my writing will power.

Today on Twitter there was a post from Random House that exclaimed, “How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like Writing.” And it linked to an article.

I thought that I had at last found all the answers to my occasional lack of writing ambition. So I favorited it.

Well, I just read the article. Someone has declared February NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month, I guess? I couldn’t find the key to the acronym anywhere.) to encourage bloggers to post every day for a month.

The article was actually a blog post about NaBloPoMo (that’s kind of fun to say…NaBloPoMo. It kind of sounds like “no problemo.” I feel like I should add “dude” after it.) and what to do if you’re participated but don’t feel like posting one day.

(I should link to the post here but I’m not going to because I’m a wimp and would hate to offend the author with my criticism. That’s terrible, I know. I should be more willing to stand behind my convictions. Just not tonight. Instead I’ll just tell you to google NaBloPoMo and you’ll find it.)

It sounds like it would be perfect for me. After all, I’m sort of created my own little InBloPoYe (That’s Individual Blog Posting Year. It isn’t as fun to say, though. It sounds Asian instead of Spanish.)

But the post was useless and trite. It said that writing is like exercising. You might have a hard time getting started but you’ll feel great when you’re done.

And then is offered some prompts to get you writing. Just four of them, so I guess you’re only supposed to feel uninspired once a week during NaBloPoMo.

One of them was have a friend ask you a question and write the answer. That’s an ok suggestion, although it would have to be a pretty involved question for me to one thousand words out of it. (And if anyone has a question they’d like me to write the answer to, let me know. I’ll try it the next time I don’t feel like writing, though, so don’t expect great things.)

Another suggestion was write a letter to your past, present or future self.

I’ve seen this one before and think it’s just dumb. I don’t even want to think about my past self, much less talk to it. And what can I say to my present self that I don’t already know. And if I don’t like to think about my past self now, why would I want to read something from my past self in the future?

Sometimes I have a stunning lack of imagination for someone who fancies herself a writer. I can’t imagine writing any of those letters and actually letting other people read them.

The next suggestion was to randomly select a book and a word from that book, then write about it.

I’ve discovered that I’m not good at randomly selecting things. I cheat. Just this week I decided I was going to randomly select a few tweets from my Twitter timeline and write about them. I picked one, read it and thought, “Nah. I don’t want to write about that.” So I chose another tweet and did the same thing.

Ten minutes later I had read hundreds (at least it felt like hundreds) of tweets and rejected them all.

I’m too picky, or maybe controlling would be more accurate, to trust random selection.

The last bit of advice offered to people struggling to write, was to read some writing advice and respond to it.

Huh. I just hit me that I’m doing exactly that tonight.

I find this extremely funny because, truth be told, I hadn’t read that last one completely and only noticed the “and respond to it” line when I went back to make sure I was accurately representing what it said.

Well, now I feel a bit idiotic for trashing the article when I got me through one thousand words on a night I didn’t want to write.

I guess it wasn’t so useless after all. Maybe I should link to it.

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