I’ve written for a living for close to a decade now, but I actually have very little to show for my years of experience.
So now I’m scrambling, trying to understand my own craft better, and you know what? Let the first lesson be that you should learn about your job wayyyy before the one-decade mark.
But the second best time to plant a tree is today, am I right? So no use crying over spilt milk (oh, we’re on a cliche journey with this post, so put on your seatbelts). Instead, let’s explore the skills any typical writer should have—or in my case, wishes he had.
So you’ve probably heard of morning pages.
I mean, you can’t mention books like On Writing, Bird By Bird, and The War Of Art without including The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. And in it lies one of the most helpful ways to unlock your creativity, and that’s the morning pages.
In a nutshell, this the practice of filling up three A4 pages (Cameron uses letter-sized, but let’s keep things simple) longhand before starting your day.
I’d started morning pages a few years back and I loved it. But that practice slowly evolved into normal journalling, something I thought would function the same.
Only after picking it up again did I realise how wrong I was. Morning pages wasn’t something I could simply replace with journalling, no matter how long my entries were. The entire mindset going into it was different.
We need to talk. You, yes you, the typical blogger. No, not you regular readers. You guys are cool, because I check your blogs every time you comment. No, this is for those who’ve found this blog through the Reader. I’m writing this for you.
You need to stop publishing every brain fart of yours on WordPress. I mean it. I say this because I want you to flourish. And if WordPress flourishes, then we all do too, right?
But back to the subject at hand. You can’t half-ass your posts and expect your readers to care. So let’s go back to exploring the basics.
Photo: Adrian Swancar
The best parts of being a writer is having an excuse to craft the most outlandish metaphors. I could liken rock climbing to drawing, for instance, because it’s all about learning the little techniques that’ll make up the larger picture (heh) that is your art.
Or I could link running and writing, because you’ll never see your improvement in your day-to-day, but do it long enough and you’ll be able to see how far (heh heh) you’ve progressed.
Having said that, boy do I have the metaphor for today’s topic.
Photo: Magnet Me
You know the ‘write a shitty first draft’ advice? It’s actually connected to a host of other practices—do your morning pages, keep a journal, use the Pomodoro technique—and today we’re going to explore another related technique.
I’m sure this technique already exists with a different name, but for the sake of this post, I’ll christen it the Hunter Gatherer Method™, because that’s what you’ll essentially be doing, and that’s going out into the literary savannahs and bringing back the food that is your writing ideas.