The weekend’s goal is simple: write a fictional story.
It doesn’t have to be polished or profound, it just has to be perfunctorily “complete”. An easy task, if it weren’t for the fact that I haven’t written a work of fiction in ten years.
Growing up a bookworm, I idolized authors. It was only natural that I attempt to reciprocate their gift of words. I wrote constantly, filling notebooks and Word documents and giving out stories for birthdays and holidays.
But somewhere along the way, I became convinced of my incompetence and dearth of originality. That every phrase I write is stuffy, stilted, and lackluster. That every idea is shallow and trite. That my writing commits the ultimate sin of being downright UNINTERESTING.
Sure, I still write these journal entries, but they hardly qualify as “writing” when I’m merely spraying my observations on a page, uncolored by lyricism and personality. Boring words from a boring mind.
But this type of thinking is counterproductive. In order to improve my writing and be comfortable with my voice, I’ll have to sit down and do it.
To make focusing on writing even simpler, I escape my normal distracting environment and hole up in an Airbnb for the evening, with my boyfriend as my partner in creativity. The rain drums on the windows of the English cottage style loft, where a little Alice in Wonderland door in a fake tree leads to the perfect writing (and reading and napping) nook.
Our thoughtful host, Barbara, has even set out a book for inspiration: “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland.
I thumb through it, my fingers brushing highlighted lines and handwritten notes, then read the title of the first chapter out loud: “Everybody is Talented, Original, and Has Something Important to Say.”
“It’s a book written for you!” Nash exclaims (his writing voice is enviably strong and assured, so he certainly doesn’t need the reminder).
Ueland starts off with the same account I just told, about flowing acts of creation drying up with the transition to adulthood, and addresses all the self-doubts that plague me and many others. She encourages writing from your true self with love for the craft, without regard for convention and critics.
It seems evident until I’m staring at a blinking cursor in an empty Word doc. What do I even want to write about?
When we realize we’ve forgotten our snacks (an assortment of Asian treats from Uwajimaya) outside in the main room, I absently type the word “Snackers”, then backspace it into oblivion.
“Wait, don’t erase it!”
So I ctrl-z and instead enlarge the font into my title. Taking this single word as my inspiration, I begin to type.
The ideas flow easier than the text, which bumbles out like an awkward child, but soon I have… something.
I end up with a short story about a girl who, through some vague magical incident involving a lab axolotl and preoccupation with her diet, slowly turns into food.
Ok, so it’s rough (and maybe a little crazy), but it’s a start!
- Brambles B&B
Stay in this cozy little retreat in Puyallup, WA.
- If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
A simple and soothing book to help you write true to yourself by Brenda Ueland.