Writing For The Sake Of It
Exploring the concept of writing for the sake of writing. It's not about being a budding novelist or that race to push out content to feed this hungry digital space. It is, quite simply, for yourself. It's therapy and meditation in the sound of keys tapping and that deafening silence that holds you when you pause. Pause to think or breathe. You see, sometimes I hold my breath when I write. There's a strange sense of anxiety and tension that if I let the air out, I'll lose the words or the magic with it.
From as young as six, I recall writing short stories on blank paper where I could never quite keep the sentences in a straight line (I still can't). English was my favourite subject at school. In particular, creative writing and what felt like magic when you could enhance your words with new vocabulary and metaphors. My writing slowly emerged as unstructured poetry. As an angsty teen, with My Chemical Romance and The Used soundtracks blaring through my ears, I took to songwriting. Notebooks filled with words. Secret words that I wrote only for myself.
In remembering this, it occurred to me that I'd lost that feeling of "writing for me" when I entered the blogging world. I'd always focus on what I thought everyone else wanted to read in my niche. Eventually, I lost the love of writing beauty product reviews. In a way, these recent blog posts are my attempt at bridging the gap between the writer I want to be and what the internet sees me as. It's both scary and exciting.
Writing for the sake of writing
#1 Open your canvas. A fresh notebook, blank piece of paper, napkin, back of a receipt, an online platform.
#2 Write out the first sentence that comes into your head. Don't think of a topic beforehand, just go with it.
#3 This is the best part. Let it flow. Don't go back and re-read what you've already written. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or whether it makes sense or if the ideas elegantly dress the page. Sometimes writing by hand is better for this section as it's not as easy to delete and re-write.
#4 When it feels like your mind has relaxed, as if all the words are now free, stop. Close your canvas, step back and go about your day. It doesn't actually matter whether you wrote 100 words or 1000. Word counts are a metric we measure for other people's benefit in the long run. They are important yes, but in this particular case, not so much.
#5 Hours later or the next day or the next week, re-read what you wrote. After taking a step back, I find one of two things happen:
A) With some editing and a bit more work, this is an idea for a blog post or some other form of content. Perhaps an article to pitch, or an Instagram caption or a short story.
B) These words are for my eyes only. It's not coherent, it feels raw with fresh emotion. I don't want to share this.
A) is what I hope for every time. B) is probably what I need more of.
Every day, I open Write!* A desktop app with a minimalist landscape. A simple canvas to hold what could eventually become my best work.
I'll start a new session which automatically creates a new document and begin. It auto-saves to the Cloud and tracks my word count, spaces and other character metrics. But I needn't worry about that at first. This is a clear, focused space and it makes me want to turn every piece of writing into a story. The first thing I wrote in Write! was my Garden Journal post. It inspired an entire series that I hope to continue sharing with you. It creates no boundaries when writing for play.
Before I write
• Read more - blog posts, articles, stories, non-fiction, poetry, storytelling Instagram captions.
• Tea - preferably this Adagio blend from the Sherlock Holmes collection. It draws me into a new world where I can pretend I'm a writer tucked away in a log cabin in the middle of the woods.
• Outside time - embracing a moment with nature from a stroll under the harsh winter light to the moody mist up by the farm.
Writing for work
Whilst Google Docs, Word and HemingwayApp are free perfectly capable writing platforms, they lack the productivity tracking and organisation factors, for me.
• Organisation in Write!
◇ There's a tab on the left that harbours all of your folders and files. Simple. No frills.
◇ When I'm writing notes to outline content for work, it's simple to go for bullet points and use formatting with highlighters.
• Productivity in Write!
◇ It tracks your word count and tells you how many words you've written per day, and characters per minute. The latter may not be important but personally, I found it interesting to see how much higher this number rose when I was writing freely to just get everything down on paper. I'm writing more efficiently now. I do a dump of content and then go back and refine, use the inbuilt spell check etc. Do you remember that satisfying feeling of emptying out the entire toy box, that rush of lego and little plastic pieces raining down across the floor? That's the best way I can describe emptying my head of the words it holds on to.
◇ You can set word limits based on the type of content you are writing such social media posts, an article, narrative or book.
◇ One of my favourite features is the estimated reading time it gives you. This is great for gauging whether a blog post should be split into separate posts. Or if you want to give your readers a heads up on how long a read your latest post is.
*I was given a free license for the Write! desktop application. This is not a sponsored post. There are no affiliate or referral links.
[this blog post is a variation on November's Slow Stories newsletter.]