I just finished re-reading Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell. Besides being an awesome writers resource, he goes deeper. He shares some of his own problems and solutions to writing a novel. Now, granted, this book is geared toward fiction writers but much of it can be adapted to work in the memoir genre.
The book is personal. Mr. Bell shares his frustrations, failures and successes in the hopes of helping aspiring writers. Through out the book, he has gray shaded blocks with “Words of Wisdom”. One particular block was titled “The Nifty 350″. He says to be a writer, you have to write — first and foremost. You can learn some by example but actually writing is the best way to learn to write. (At one point, he even says to put down the how-to books and start writing.)
One of the ways he successfully overcame the blank sheet of paper was by instituting a “writing quota” — his “Nifty 350″. He plans, each morning to knock out 350 words before he officially starts his day. He says that his day can quickly fill with life’s little (or big) distractions that easily keep him from writing (kids, phones, tasks, etc…) but that if he starts with his coffee and 350 words before he does almost anything else, he finds it motivates him to do even more.
It’s a jump start for the day. Sometimes he blows the quota away and other times he finds that the rest of his daily quota “doesn’t seem so daunting” if he gets those first 350 words under his belt. Either way, he’s a winner… err… writer.
So, instead of waiting to be inspired, taking care of the 101 other things I could be doing each and every day, I’m going to start my own Nifty 350 morning writing quota. At times it will be easy, other times probably not. However, I believe Mr. Bell when he says it inspires him and motivates him to keep going. I like the idea.
350 words doesn’t seem too hard to reach — I can do that. Only took a few minutes and this post is 350 words.