It gets challenging at times to write every day. Not because sitting down in front of a keyboard is inherently difficult, but because I don’t like the concept of repeating myself. Oh, I’m sure it’s happened countless times. It’s hard enough to forget which stories you’ve told specific friends, let alone keep track of the content of 1350 odd entries written over >3 years. Having written every day, I’ve long since figured out that some notion of direction makes the whole process easier. Having an idea is not synonymous with “planning”, it just means that I’ve extended thoughts as far as general content.
I don’t have any of that today. As I’m sure you can tell from the multitudinous aimless entries, it’s a common occurrence. There’s a non-insignificant level of guilt saddled along with pointless entries. I wonder what I could be doing with the time, whether I’m getting any more out of putting words to paper than I would merely reading books. I often fear that my vocabulary is stagnating, that diving into the prose of accomplished writers could be the salve I need. I’ve at least been reading lately, for the first time in a while. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay. Historical fiction is far from my wheelhouse, but maybe that’s the shot in the arm that I need. Obviously though, that’s not all that I need.
It’s easy to discount the necessity of fresh experiences in revitalising your outlook. Routine is so seductively easy, especially at a time of the year when staying outside too long could literally result in death. What’s the simplest solution for lacking topic ideas? Write about what’s happened to you. If nothing’s happened, however, where do you take that? Do an itemised run down of your schedule? Catalogue everything your body has touched since you awoke (actually, that’s kind of interesting. Earmarking that for another day)? Recount dreams? Meals? Media consumption habits? That’s all backup fodder for small talk, let alone devoting time to words on a page. Having novel experiences is a break from the norm, Suddenly there are things to talk about, reflections to share. Keep moving or go stagnant.
The other option, which I take too rarely, is to use this space as a lab. Throwing ideas at a page to see if they have legs. I can write anything, so why don’t I? I tried a week of writing dialogue with mixed results. Still, how else does one improve? I used to write comedy here, some time back. I’m always writing about myself. How about a week where I write about others? Profiles? Interviews? What about retakes on past entries? How about news stories based on fictional narratives, to work on the inherent conventions? Updates and reworking? Real editing? What if I tried planning in advance? Working out the beats of a short story, then taking a week of entries to put it together? A serialised piece of maybe 3000 words total? Am I afraid of not hitting a certain word count? Or afraid that if I put effort into something and it doesn’t pan out, that I have no excuse to fall back on?
This is not a heartfelt commitment to change. I mean, it’s not like I knew I was gonna write this 30 minutes ago. It’s an expression of a desire to try new things, to keep from going stale. To make the challenge I’ve set for myself worth it. Hell, this is only three years down the line. How will I feel in another five?