The Challenge for Day 9
The prompt today for my 500 Word Challenge is to ” Write about Writing.” The joys, the pitfalls and how I’m coping with the Challenge. We seem to have days for everything now, so why not have a Happy Mars Day? And I mean the planet, not the chocolate, but I guess both could work at this stage. Just check out Twitter!
Happy Mars Day
Why am I calling today Happy Mars Day? As you might know, I’m currently taking part in a Creative Writing course with Pauline Clooney. Each week we get a story prompt, usually quite open to interpretation. One particular week the instruction was more specific: Visit somewhere you’ve never been before and give a detailed description of it. My response basically sums up my general approach to writing.
Try as I might, I just could not focus on what I was supposed to do. All that kept jumping into my mind was Mars.,though I did try to be more open-minded. Maybe I could drive to a small, local village? Take a train trip to Tipperary? Visit a historic castle? But Mars sounds so much more exciting. In the end, I gave up and went to Mars. And that’s how the short story ” Pod 125, Hebrus Valles, Mars” came about. Now I understand the saying, ” I think you’re on another planet” much better.
Creativity and Writing
Which brings me back to an earlier article I wrote about the joy and torment of creativity. That post was inspired by none other than Jeff Goins himself, the same author who organizes the 500 Words Challenge. He talked in general about the characteristics of creative people, and they seem to apply across the Arts. Things like lack of focus, inability to complete tasks, breaking rules. That’s before you get to the hypersensitivity. These were exactly the types of problems I had with previous artistic endeavours and they followed me into my attempts at writing.
There are some upsides to these traits, though, you just need to learn how to harness them. At least, that’s been my experience. Take the Mars story. Yes, I found it difficult to follow the rules properly. But I still managed to write on the theme, even if it was a bit of a sideways solo run. And, unlike in the past, I actually finished the task and pushed it out into the light. I think I’m learning to be brave and that’s probably what pleases me most. That, and reading people’s reactions to my work. But of course, those two are interlinked.
There’s no point pretending this challenge isn’t tough. Sometimes I feel like my head is melting from an overheated brain. How can I write consistently every day, especially when I have to switch styles and approaches? What about time for my other writing, like for the course? And who is going to speed clean my house for me?
The thing is, this is like a crash course in learning how to write, and that means a temporary change in priorities. On a positive note, it’s forcing me to become more disciplined, a life skill I needed to develop. It has taught me the importance of free writing…Before I would have an idea and go for it. This way, the ideas find me. It has exposed me to different genres of writing. Hope is an example of this, I’d never have attempted something like that before, let alone publish it.
The funniest part is that in some ways it has even taken pressure OFF me. Writing at this pace, I have to silence the inner critic, otherwise I’d get nothing done. Sometimes the things you learn are much different than you expected. Maybe that’s the real purpose of the Challenge?
Day 10 of My 500 Words 31 Day Challenge: Happy Mars Day.
The photograph is my own, taken in Trim, Co. Meath.