Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Do You Write?

              Been a long time since I have seen a sky like this; I am ready to see a bright sky again!

So how do you write? There are so many tips on how to beginning working on a piece of writing. You can free write, journal, outline, use a note taking device, interview, lean on divine inspiration, or write on a dinner napkin. I have used all of the above, but sometimes I want to write a story without knowing where to begin. I mean I don’t even have a word or thought to start me off on my work.

For example, I am not a western writer, but I have bumped into two writing ops this month that wanted western settings. Okay, I loved Bonanza, Wagon Train, Louie L’Amour, and Jack Schaffer. Schaffer wrote the world’s greatest western, Shane, without ever traveling west of the Ohio. So…how hard could it be to write a western?

But my mind was blank. I couldn’t “see” any point where to begin working. I would think “cowboy” and nothing appeared but Levi jeans resting on pointed boot toes. I pictured a stagecoach…nothing came. A corral and a squeaky leather saddle…nothing came. My mind’s screen was blank! Then gradually a pair of lavender drop ear rings came. Well darn, a cowboy doesn’t wear ear rings for gosh sakes!

But doing dishes, vacuuming the rugs, or going to sleep those ear rings kept appearing. So I began to let them come and asked who was wearing them, where did she live, what was her story. It was a saloon in cattle country and she was a shady lady! Okay, so that is partly a western, right? I went with it, let this gal dance in my head for a couple of days, and then I sat down yesterday to write for four and half hours straight. When I was finished, I had a story but was it a western? I don’t know. I do know this is not a story like I would normally write and there is even blood in it! I printed it out and put it away to gel for a while.

I got a notice yesterday that a contest in Oklahoma has been extended for two weeks. Hum, I didn’t know it was open in the first place. That didn’t leave me much time. Not wanting to face the western again anyway, I took out this afternoon writing an Oklahoma inspired essay. I wrote for two hours pounding out description of my rides to Claremore in my childhood. When once again I had a decent rough draft, I decided to take a break, but I did go to the web site for more details. WHOA, I should have done that first. They don’t want essays, only documented family stories. Well, do I have family stories, but I could not document them and even if I could, I would probably be sued!

Here I sit at week‘s end with 3,000 words of new copy that might go nowhere. It was good practice anyway, right? My shoulders are sore and my mind is numb, but still the work itself was satisfying and meaningful to me, the first reader after all.

So how do YOU write? Do you sit down to a blank page with no idea and draw something out of nowhere? Do you have a kernel of a story or a scene you carry around with you for days before beginning to flesh it out on the page? Do you write and write even if there is no market at hand, or do you find a market and tailor your words to reach only that possibility?
I got this writing notice on email yesterday. At least it has a longer open window for consideration.

The Festival is pleased to announce our 2nd Annual Poetry Contest. We
will be accepting submissions by mail and online from April 18—August
18, 2011.

1 comment:

Judie said...

Believe me, I know just how you feel. When Jenny gave us the prompt "Beam me up, Scotty" I started a sci fi that took on a life of its own. I have about 15 pages, and will, at some point, write more since I have the story mapped out in my mind, but sci fi is definitely not my genre. I started it on a bet. I'm thinking, just how hard can this be??????