Just Write

Get started – how to use writing prompts

Get out some paper and a fast moving pen or set up your computer. Set the timer for ten minutes. Look at something  in your room, anything, it doesn’t matter. Now write. Just write whatever enters your head. Or, open your dictionary to a random page, run your finger down a column. Stop on a word and freewrite, using that word as your prompt. Or, use one of the prompts in this blog. Think of this as practice writing, just as a badminton player practices before an actual meet. Follow Natalie Goldberg’s six rules of writing listed in a previous post. Try it right now. Paper and pen or computer ready? Glance at your clock. Note the time.  Or set your timer for ten minutes. Write for ten minutes about “trees.” After that, write for ten minutes, using “I remember” as your prompt. Now go with, “What I really want…

Just Write

Don’t think. Don’t plan. Just Write.

When you write, using the method of writing freely – called a freewrite – you can lose control with no worries about consequences.  Writing in this style is for your personal enjoyment or to enhance your writing.  This isn’t your final piece to be published.  No one else has to read your writing, unless you invite them to. When you freewrite, don’t think and don’t plan what you will write next. Just go with the moment’s energy. If you use a prompt that draws from your childhood, you will have endless material to write about.

Just Write

How to get in the mood to write.

Get comfortable in your chair, couch, or wherever you are sitting . Both feet flat on the floor. Wiggle, squirm, move around until you are sitting comfortably.  Take a deep breath in through your nose and release slowly through your mouth. Feel the floor under your feet. Your chair is firmly supporting you. Rest your hands comfortably in your lap, or on your thighs or on the table. Sit back and relax into your chair, feeling completely supported and totally comfortable. Take a deep breath in, hold and let go. Let go of your worries, Let go of your concerns. Take a nice deep breath in. Feel the breath go down, past your lungs, into your belly. Hold and really whoosh out. As you go through this relaxation, take deep breaths as you need to and really whoosh out as you exhale. Perhaps wiggle your toes and feet, rotate your…

Just Write

Amy Zhang and your scraps of writing

My dear friend, Arlene Mandell, asked a question the other day that I’ve been pondering. What happens to our scraps of writing?  What can we do with our journal writing and our freewrites? I just read “The Secret Life of a Teenage Author” by Amy Zhang in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers. Zhang’s honesty and confession led me to want to learn more about her. Her blog, “A Story of a Dreamer,” is inspiring and delightful. The October 10 post begins, “If You Give an Author Some Chocolate …to encourage her to revise, she’ll eat it. She’ll eat it slowly because there is an art to eating chocolate bars. She’ll try to revise while holding the chocolate bar in one hand, but realize that she can’t revise without proper music. If you let an author look for proper music, she’ll decide that her normal revising playlist simply…

Just Write

Twelve Steps to Successful Writing

Are you the type of person who needs to clear your desk before getting down to the business of writing?  Me, too. I have to pay the bills, sort, organize, stack things on my desk.  Satisfied, but not ready to get to writing, I look around. Oh, I really need to do the laundry, clean the bathroom, clean the floor, check the refrigerator, look outside, get a drink of water. Sometimes it seems I’ll do everything except write. One year I participated in NaNoWriMo for the month of November. I loved it. This year I’m going to participate in Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN), founded by Nina Amir. But I know I’ll only be successful if I plan ahead. Here are Twelve Steps to get to that writing we so want to do. 1. For the next two weeks, get caught up. Get organized, file those pieces of paper that…

Places to submit

The Sun Magazine

Submissions – The Sun Magazine We publish essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry. We tend to favor personal writing, but we’re also looking for thoughtful, well-written essays on political, cultural, and philosophical themes. Please, no journalistic features, academic works, or opinion pieces. Other than that, we’re open to just about anything. Surprise us; we often don’t know what we’ll like until we read it. We pay from $300 to $2,000 for essays and interviews, $300 to $1,500 for fiction, and $100 to $500 for poetry, the amount being determined by length and quality. We may pay less for very short works. We also give contributors a complimentary one-year subscription to The Sun. We purchase one-time rights. All other rights revert to the author upon publication. We’re willing to read previously published works, though for reprints we pay only half our usual fee. We discourage simultaneous submissions. We rarely run anything longer…

Just Write

Natalie Goldberg talks about writing practice

From an interview in The Sun with Natalie Goldberg, November 2003: A writing practice is simply picking up a pen — a fast-writing pen, preferably, since the mind is faster than the hand — and doing timed writing exercises. The idea is to keep your hand moving for, say, ten minutes, and don’t cross anything out, because that makes space for your inner editor to come in. You are free to write the worst junk in America. After all, when we get on the tennis courts, we don’t expect to be a champion the first day. Writing is an athletic activity; the more you practice, the better you get at it. The reason you keep your hand moving is because there’s often a conflict between the editor and the creator. The editor is always on our shoulder saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t write that. It’s not good.” When you keep the…