I’ve never identified myself as a writer. When I was in J school, I was systemically disabused of all pretense of art when writing. The purpose of writing was just bashing noun and verb together to cover the five Ws and move on. Deadlines didn’t allow for more, and writing with any semblance of art drove editors in to apoplexy. Head down, crank it out, move on.
It was always vaguely unsatisfying. There was never enough time to ever get anything right, or inject any humanity.
But then, I wasn’t writing. I was bashing words together.
I’ve been undoing that learned behavior, slowly but surely. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write artfully. But I want to quit bashing words together.
I’ve been giving myself permission to write more than 300 words about any given thing. I’m moving above writing for the sixth grade reader. I’m trying new things, and seeing how it goes. And I think I’m getting there.
So this coming year, I’m committed to cranking out at least eighty thousand words on one story, telling it as well as I can, and finishing it. That’s an intimidating number of words. So I’m just thinking of it as 500 words I can squeeze in to a lunch break while I scarf a sandwich every day during the work week. Those will add up over time, and I still get weekends to go shoot and walkabout.
That’s the plan, anyway. Bash enough words together that maybe I can move beyond it. Tell something worth reading, interesting enough to everyone involved to give it life. It’ll need to be interesting to keep me bashing it together, as well.
When it’s done, then what? I’ll have to try it again, of course. You don’t get good at anything just doing it once. What will I do with it when I’m done? I’ll worry about that when I get there.
If I can stop word bashing and get closer to actually writing, I’ll be happy with that.