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Writing 101: Build aBlogging Habit
WRITING 101: BUILD ABLOGGING HABITStretch your writing muscles
The Editors, WordPress.com
Writing 101: Build a Blogging Habit by The Daily Post islicensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 InternationalLicense, except where otherwise noted
CONTENTSIntroduction: Create a Writing Habit 1
Unlock the Mind1. 2
A Room with a View (Or Just a View)2. 4
Commit to a Writing Practice3. 6
Serially Lost4. 8
Be Brief5. 10
A Character-Building Experience6. 12
Give and Take7. 15
Death to Adverbs8. 17
Point of View9. 19
Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!10. 21
Size Matters11. 23
Dark Clouds on the Virtual Horizon12. 25
Serially Found13. 27
To Whom It May Concern14. 29
Your Voice Will Find You15. 31
Third Time's A Charm16. 33
Your Personality on the Page17. 35
Hone Your Point of View18. 37
Don't Stop the Rockin'19. 39
The Things We Treasure20. 41
Looking for some writing inspiration somethingto encourage you to create and nurture a writinghabit? Look no further than Writing 101, Build a Blog-ging Habit.
In this book, youll find 20 days of writing inspi-ration. Each day offers a new prompt and a specialtwist. While we do recommend working throughthe book in order youre free to pick and choosethe prompts that inspire you.
Have fun and write well. The Editors, WordPress.com
You write because you have an idea in yourmind that feels so genuine, so important, sotrue. And yet, by the time this idea passesthrough the different filters of your mind, andinto your hand, and onto the page or computerscreen it becomes distorted, and its beendiminished. The writing you end up with is anapproximation, if youre lucky, of whatever itwas you really wanted to say.
Author Khaled Hosseini, How to Write,the Atlantic.
At The Daily Post, we try to instill a daily blogginghabit in each of our readers. Weve gotten to knowmany of you your avatars, your blogs and are
reminded each day that our community is full ofmany different stories and voices.
Some of you want to take your craft of writingto the next level you might be a seasoned dailyprompter ready for something more, or want toexperiment with different aspects of storytelling,from considering your setting and point of view, todeveloping your characters and dialogue.
So, welcome to Writing 101: Build a Blogging Habit.In these twenty days, well dive into the elementsof storytelling, help you cut through writers blockand as Natalie Goldberg teaches access thepure thoughts and ideas of your wild mind.
To get started, lets loosen up. Lets unlock themind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write.And dont think about what youll write. Justwrite.
Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to hand-write for this exercise) until your twenty minutesare up. It doesnt matter if what you write is incom-plete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the Publishbutton.
And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.
WRITING 101: BUILD A BLOGGING HABIT 3
2A ROOMWITH A VIEW(OR JUST AVIEW)
If you could zoom through space in the speed oflight, what place would you go to right now?
The spaces we inhabit have an influence on ourmood, our behavior, and even the way we moveand interact with others. Enter a busy train station,and you immediately quicken your step. Step intoa majestic cathedral, and you lower your voice andautomatically look up. Return to your own room,and your body relaxes.
A place belongs forever to whoever claims it
hardest, remembers it most obsessively,wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it,loves it so radically that he remakes it in hisown image.
Today, choose a place to which youd like to betransported if you could and tell us the back-story. How does this specific location affect you?Is it somewhere youve been, luring you with thepower of nostalgia, or a place youre aching toexplore for the first time?
Todays twist: organize your post around thedescription of a setting.
Giving your readers a clear sense of the spacewhere your story unfolds will help them plungedeeper into your writing. Whether its a room, ahouse, a town, or something entirely different (acave? a spaceship?), provide concrete details to setthis place apart and to create a more immersivereading experience.
You can go the hyperrealist route (think theopening four paragraphs of Gustave Flauberts ASimple Soul, a masterclass of telling detail). Or focuson how a specific space makes the people in it feeland behave, like blogger Julie Riso did in this vis-ceral recounting of her hike through an Estonianbog.
WRITING 101: BUILD A BLOGGING HABIT 5
3COMMIT TOA WRITINGPRACTICE
Write about the three most important songs inyour life what do they mean to you?
Nailing Brahms Hungarian Dance Number 5 onyour alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos.Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Eachrequires that you make practice a habit.
Today, try free writing. To begin, empty yourmind onto the page. Dont censor yourself; dontthink. Just let go. Let the emotions or memoriesconnected to your three songs carry you.
Todays twist: Youll commit to a writing prac-tice. The frequency and the amount of time youchoose to spend today and moving forward
are up to you, but we recommend a minimum offifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.
The basic unit of writing practice is the timedexercise.
Author Natalie Goldberg says to burn through tofirst thoughts, to that place where energy is unob-structed by social politeness or the internal cen-sor. Here are some of her rules of free writingpractice from Writing Down the Bones, which we rec-ommend you keep in mind:
Keep your hand moving. (Dont pause toreread the line youve just written. Thatsstalling and trying to get control of whatyoure saying.)
Dont cross out. (That is editing as youwrite. Even if you write something youdidnt mean to write, leave it.)
Dont worry about spelling, punctuation,grammar. (Dont even care about stayingwithin the margins and lines on the page.)
Lose control. Dont think. Dont get logical. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up
in your writing that is scary or naked, diveright into it. It probably has lots of energy.)
Jorge Luis Borges said: Writing is nothing morethan a guided dream. So, what are you waitingfor? Get writing. Fifteen minutes. Go. And then, doit again tomorrow, and the day after, and the dayafter.
WRITING 101: BUILD A BLOGGING HABIT 7
Write about a loss: something (or someone) thatwas part of your life, and isnt any more.
This doesnt need to be a depressing exercise; youcan write about that time you lost the three-leggedrace at a picnic. Whats important is reflecting onthis experience and what it meant for you how itfelt, why it happened, and what changed because ofit.
Todays twist: Make todays post the first in athree-post series.
Our blogs are often made of standalone posts, butusing them to take readers on longer journeys isan immersive experience for them and you. Itallows you to think bigger and go deeper into an
idea, while using a hook that keeps readers comingback.
A series can take many forms:
Recurring features of the same type ofpost, like The Stakes Game of Thronesrecaps or Chronicles of an Anglo-Swissresponses to daily prompts.
Posts on the same topic, where each buildson the last, like Literature and Libationsmulti-part posts on becoming a beerwriter.
Fiction, where each post gives readers thenext chapter or a new story, like the workat Flashes in the Pan and 300 Stories.
We also have advice that might help. If you decideto go serial, upcoming chapters cover parts two andthree, so dont worry about writing everything nowor having to shoehorn the other posts in.
You only need to write the first post in the seriestoday well prompt you to write parts two andthree in upcoming chapters.
WRITING 101: BUILD A BLOGGING HABIT 9
You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wishit could be returned to the person to which itsaddressed. Write a story about this encounter.
Todays twist: Approach this post in as fewwords as possible.
None of us will ever know the whole story inother words. We can only collect a bag full ofshards that each seem perfect. From 100 Word Storys About page
Brevity is the goal of this task, although briefcan mean five words or five-hundred words. Youmight write a fifty-word story, as writer VincentMars publishes on his blog, Boy in the Hat. Or youmight tell your tale in precisely one-hun-
dred words, like the folks at 100 Word Story anapproach that forces you to question every word.
For writers who tend to write more, a longer wordcount may be considered concise, too. At Brevity,writers publish nonfiction of seven-hundred-fiftywords or less: there is space to develop a piece, yeta focus on succinctness.
For inspiration, browse two fifty-word stories on the silence between a husband and wife, or astory on time and a missed connection or theseone-hundred words by H. Edwards to see how oth-ers write clever concise tales.
WRITING 101: BUILD A BLOGGING HABIT 11
Whos the most interesting person (or people)youve met this year?
Our stories are inevitably linked to the peoplearound us. We are social creatures: from the familymembers and friends whove known us since child-hood, to the coworkers, service providers, andstrangers who populate our world (and, at times,leave an unexpected mark on us).
Today, write a post focusing on one or more of the people that have recently entered yourlife, and tell us how your narratives intersected. Itcan be your new partner, your newborn child, or thefriendly barista whose real story youd love to learn
(or imagine), or any other person youve met forthe first time in the past year.
Todays twist: Turn your post into a characterstudy.
In displaying the psychology of your characters,minute particulars are essential. God save usfrom vague generalizations!
Anton Chekhov, Letter to AlexanderChekhov; May 10, 1886
Describing people whether real or fictional ina way that channels their true essence is an invalu-able skill for any writer. Through the careful accu-mulation of details, great authors morph theirwords into vivid, flesh-and-bones creations in ourminds. How can you go about shaping your portraitof a person? Some ideas to explore:
Dont just list their features. Tell us somethingabout how their physical appearance shapes theway they act and engage with others. For example,see how the author of this moving photo essay,which documents the final weeks of a woman dyingof cancer, captures the kernel of the womans spiritwith a short, masterful statement:
Her eyes told stories that her voice didnt havethe power to articulate and she had a kindnessthat immediately made me feel like we hadbeen friends for years.
Give us a glimpse of what makes this personunique. We all have our own quirks, mannerisms,and individual gestures, both physical and linguis-tic. If youre looking for inspiration, read this blog-
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gers portrait of her French host family afterreading the first two paragraphs, you already haveintimate knowledge of who these people are andwhat drives them.
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Write a post based on the contrast between twothings whether people, objects, emotions,places, or something else.
Remember those compare and contrast essaysin composition class, in which youre forced to cre-ate a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Justbecause that particular form was a bore doesntmean that opposition has no place in your writing.
Bringing together two different things fromthe abstract and the inanimate to the living andbreathing creates a natural source of tension,and conflict drives writing forward. It makes yourreader want to continue to the next sentence, to thenext page. So, focus on your two starkly differentsiblings, or your competing love for tacos and mac-
arons, or whether thoughts are more powerful thanwords, oryou get the idea.
Todays twist: write your post in the form ofa dialogue. You can create a strong oppositionbetween the two speakers a lovers quarrel ora fierce political debate, for example. Or youcould aim to highlight the difference in tone andstyle between the two different speakers yourcall!
If youd like more guidance, check out these tentips on writing solid dialogue. In case youre intim-idated by dialogue tags all those he said, shewhispered, etc., heres a useful overview.
Emulating peoples speech in written form takespractice, and creating two distinct voices could helpyou see (and hear) the different factors that playinto the way we speak, from our diction and accentto our vocabulary and (creative?) use of grammar.(Well discuss the topic of voice more formally laterin the course; for now, take a stab at writing dia-logue on your own.)
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Go to a local caf, park, or public place and reporton what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuancebehind.
Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosingprecise words to create vivid pictures in thereaders mind. As you strive to create strongimagery, show your readers whats going on; avoidtelling them.
Todays twist: write an adverb-free post. Ifyoud rather not write a new post, revisit and edita previous one: excise your adverbs and replacethem with strong, precise verbs.
The sin of telling often begins with adverbs.Author Stephen King says that, for writers, the roadto hell is paved with adverbs:
The adverb is not your friend.Adverbsare words that modify verbs, adjec-
tives, or other adverbs. Theyre the ones thatusually end in -ly. Adverbs, like the passivevoice, seem to have been created with the timidwriter in mind.With adverbs, the writer usu-ally tells us he or she is afraid he/she isntexpressing himself/herself clearly, that he orshe is not getting the point or the pictureacross.
Instead of using adverbs as a crutch, rely on strongverbs to convey emotional qualities that imbueyour writing with nuance, allowing the reader tofire up their imagination. Consider, for example:
She walked proudly out the door.Remove the adverb proudly and replace it with
a strong verb to denote how she walked:She strutted out the door.She sashayed out the door.She flounced out the door.Each example connotes the emotion with which
she moved, creating a more vivid picture thanproudly ever could.
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A man and a woman walk through the parktogether, holding hands. They pass an old womansitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting asmall, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Writethis scene.
Todays twist: write the scene from three dif-ferent points of view: from the perspective of theman, then the woman, and finally the oldwoman.
If point of view was an object, it would be WilliamCarlos Williams infamous red wheelbarrow; every-thing depends on it.
Consider a car/pedestrian accident: the story dif-fers depending on whether youre the driver, thepedestrian, or the woman across the street who
witnessed the horror. Everyone will tell a differentstory if asked to recount the event.
Shifting point of view can be your best friend ifyouve got writers block. If youre stuck or you feelyour writing is boring and lifeless, Craig Nova,author of All the Dead Yale Men, suggests shifting thepoint of view from which your story is told:
Take point of view, for example. Lets say youare writing a scene in which a man and awoman are breaking up. They are doing thiswhile they are having breakfast in their apart-ment. But the scene doesnt work. It is dull andflat.
Applying the [notion] mentioned above, thesolution would be to change point of view. Thatis, if it is told from the mans point of view,change it to the womans, and if that doesntwork, tell it from the point of view of the neigh-borhood, who is listening through the wall inthe apartment next door, and if that doesntwork have this neighbor tell the story of thebreak up, as he hears it, to his girlfriend. Andif that doesnt work tell it from the point ofview of a burglar who is in the apartment, andwho hid in a closet in the kitchen when the manand woman who are breaking up came in andstarted arguing.
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Tell us about your favorite childhood meal theone that was always a treat, that meant celebra-tion, or that comforted you and has deep rootsin your memory.
Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, fromthe food you ate to the people who were there to theevent it marked.
Todays twist: Tell the story in your own dis-tinct voice.
You own everything that happened to you. Tell yourstories. If people wanted you to write warmly aboutthem, they should have behaved better.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
The biggest thing that separates you from everyother blogger in the world is your voice. Finding(and being confident in) our voices is one of thebiggest challenges in writing, and its easy to loseour voices when were worried about being liked byeveryone, or when we compare ourselves to others.
While its true that embracing your voice willmean that not everyone loves you, the people whodo will love you a lot. Exhibit A: The Bloggess. Isshe the only person who writes about parenting,mental health, and cats? Far from it. Is her stylefor everyone? Nope. Does she have a huge cadre ofloyal readers who are drawn to her unique voice?Definitely.
Write todays post as if youre relaying the storyto your best friend over a cup of coffee (or glass ofwine your call). Dont worry if it feels like youramble a bit, or a four-letter-word sneaks in, or itfeels different from what you usually publish. Takea deep breath, tell the story in your own words, andsend it out the virtual door.
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Tell us about the home where you lived when youwere twelve. Which town, city, or country? Wasit a house or an apartment? A boarding school orfoster home? An airstream or an RV? Who livedthere with you?
But first, consider this passage:The man rode hard through the woods. The black
horses effort lay in lather. The sun beat down from highoverhead. Dark birds circled, drifted, and then returned.The land baked, and dust hung suspended.
Is this not the most boring paragraph youve readin a long time perhaps ever? Weve got portent, aracing rider, and a forbidding landscape. Together,these should offer excitement and intrigue, but thewords lay on the page, limp and dead. Why? Sen-
tence length. Each sentence contains exactly sevenwords. The repetitive, seven-word cadence lullsyou to sleep instead of piquing your interest.
So write with a combination of short, medium,and long sentences. Create a sound that pleasesthe readers ear. Dont just write words. Writemusic.
Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writ-ing
Mixing up the lengths of your sentences createsvariety for the reader and makes for much moreinteresting reading.
Todays twist: pay attention to your sentencelengths and use short, medium, and long sen-tences as you compose your response about thehome you lived in when you were twelve.
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Write a post inspired by a real-world conversa-tion.
We dont write in a bubble we write in theworld, and what we say is influenced by our expe-riences. Today, take a cue from something youveoverheard and write a post inspired by a real-lifeconversation. Revisit a time when you wish youdspoken up, reminisce about an important conver-sation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a
conversation happening around you right now andwrite your reaction. Take time to listen to whatyou hear around you, or what your memories stirup.
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from lis-tening carefully. Most people never listen.
Todays twist: include an element of foreshadow-ing in the beginning of your post.
At its most basic, foreshadowing gives readersa roadmap to what will happen later in your post a subtle detail planted in the back of a readersmind, like a telling piece of dialogue or a strategicmention of an object that hints at whats to come.When an author tells us there are dark clouds onthe horizon, we know something negative will hap-pen soon.
This doesnt mean your post has to have a Shock-ing! Twist! la The Usual Suspects or Shirley Jack-sons classic short story, The Lottery. It justmeans youll give readers some clues as you go a sense of what will happen next, information thatmight be important later, or a detail that youllexplain in your conclusion.
Were ready to go wherever you want to lead us.
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As part of chapter four, you wrote a post aboutlosing something. Today, write about findingsomething.
Tell us about the time you retrieved your favoritet-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentallystumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in yourparents attic. Or how about the moment you foundout the truth about a person whose history or realnature you thought youd figured out. Interpret thistheme of finding something however you see fit.
Todays twist: if you wrote chapter fours postas the first in a series, use this one as the secondinstallment loosely defined.
You could pick up the action where you stopped,or jump backward or forward in time. You
might write about the same topic, but use a differ-ent style, or use the same style to tackle a neigh-boring topic.
Not sure how to approach continuity? Heres atime-tested tip: pick a favorite book or two. Readthe last page of chapter one, then the first page ofchapter two. How did the author choose to connectthese two separate-but-connected narrative units?
Wed like to stress, though, that the idea behindtodays assignment isnt necessarily to writechapter two of a neat, predetermined sequence though you could do that, too, of course butto think more intently about the idea of continuityand designing long-term writing projects.
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14TO WHOM ITMAYCONCERN
Pick up the nearest book and flip to page29. Whats the first word that jumps off the page?Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.If you need a boost, Google the word and see whatimages appear, and then go from there.
Todays twist: write the post in the form of aletter.
You have a number of options: you can write aletter to the word or an image, or an open letterto the world inspired by the word. You could pen aseries of imaginary notes between you and a friend,or between two fictional characters, or between oldyou and young you.
Using a letter format can help you find new waysto build engaging scenes and stories. If your wordwas Monday, you could write:
I have a bad case of the Mondays.
But you could also write:
Dear Monday,I admit it: Im never happy to see you. I dread
you in the morning, and on the drive to work,and from what I see on my Facebook feed, noone else likes you, either.
Get it together, Monday.Sincerely,
(Hat tip to Cheri Lucas Rowlands for this brilliantsummation of Mondays.)
For more inspiration, check out someof our favorite letters published on Word-Press.com. A few recent letters to things, suchas one addressed to cancer and another to a pair ofboobs, might offer ideas.
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15YOUR VOICEWILL FINDYOU
Think about an event youve attended and loved.Your hometowns annual fair. That life-chang-ing music festival. A conference that shifted yourworldview. Imagine youre told it will be can-celled forever or taken over by an evil corporateforce.
How does that make you feel?Lets consider your voice again. This topic can be
tricky, as you might not be sure what your voicesounds like yet. But its not that its not there, asChuck Wendig explains in his Ten Things Id Liketo Say to Young Writers post. It just takes time tohone it:
You will chase your voice like a dog chasing acar, but youll never catch it. Because you wereyour voice all along. You were never the dog.You were always the car.
Our favorite writers, from Jane Austen to GabrielGarcia Marquez to Paul Auster, have distinct voices.You read their writing and hear their words in yourhead. From their word choices, to the rhythm oftheir sentences, to the intimate spaces they create right there on the page they sound like no oneelse but them.
Todays twist: While writing this post, focusagain on your own voice. Pay attention to yourword choice, tone, and rhythm. Read each sen-tence aloudmultiple times, making edits as youread through. Before you hit Publish, read yourentire piece out loud to ensure it sounds like you.
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Imagine you had a job in which you had to siftthrough forgotten or lost belongings. Describe aday in which you come upon something peculiar,or tell a story about something interesting youfind in a pile.
For inspiration, ponder the phrase lost andfound. What do you think about or visualize whenyou read this phrase? For an elementary schooler,it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgot-ten jackets and random toys. For a frequent trav-eler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed withlost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.
For chapter four, you wrote about losing some-
thing. For chapter thirteen, you then wrote aboutfinding something. So, todays twist: If youd liketo continue our serial challenge, also reflect onthe theme of lost and found more generally inthis post.
By the end of Writing 101, youll have multi-ple posts around a theme material you couldthread together in a longform piece.
Questions to think about as you write your post:
What have you learned about loss over theyears?
What does it feel like to find an object thatwas once important to you?
When can reconnecting go horribly wrong? When are things better left buried and
In your lost and found tale, tell us somethinglarger a life lesson, perhaps about finding andlosing something.
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We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. Whatare you scared of? Address one of your worstfears.
Todays twist: Write this post in a style distinctfrom your own.
Earlier in Writing 101, we talked about voice: thatelusive element that sets you apart from everyother writer out there. Style, however, is different.Your writing style might affect your voice, but ulti-mately style and voice arent the same thing.
While your voice is your own, and something
thats innately you, style is much broader. Youmight prefer long and complex sentences, or sen-tences with a lot of commas and layers buildingupon each other, or perhaps intentional run-onsand thoughts bleeding into the next and no pausesand lots of imagery and never-ending momentsthat run onto the next page.
Or, you might write short sentences. Fragments,even. Simple prose.
Think back to your assignment on sentencelengths. What kinds of sentences do you prefer, orfind yourself writing naturally?
Style is the answer to everything.A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerousthing.To do a dull thing with style is preferable todoing a dangerous thing without it.To do a dangerous thing with style is what I callart.
Novelist Raymond Chandler also called style themost durable thing in your writing a projectionof personality, the product of emotion and percep-tion. While writers have their own styles, stylecan be mimicked you can approach a pieceintentionally to create a certain effect. (Weonce asked writers to write in Hunter S. Thomp-sons gonzo style take a peek for inspiration.)
If you need a boost, consider these examples ofstyle: Thompsons Fear and Loathing in LasVegas, Ernest Hemingways Hills Like White Ele-phants, and Toni Morrisons Beloved.
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18HONE YOURPOINT OFVIEW
The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs.Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remem-ber. She raised a family of six boys, whove all grown upand moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three monthsago, shed had no income. Shes fallen behind in therent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, havecome to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house shes lived infor forty years.
Todays prompt: write this story in first person,told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoopacross the street.
First person, second person, third person,whew! Point of view is a type of narrative mode,
which is the method by which a storys plot is con-veyed to the audience. Point of view tells not onlywho is telling the story, but also how it is told. Con-sider a recent short story published on The WorshipCollective, Funny Things, in which the narrator isa child who has passed away.
Need a refresher on first-person narration?Recall Scout Finch, the six-year-old first-personnarrator of Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird. Shetells the story through her eyes:
It was times like these when I thought myfather, who hated guns and had never been toany wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
Remember its a sin to kill a mockingbird.That was the only time I ever heard Atticus sayit was a sin to do something, and I asked MissMaudie about it.
Todays twist: For those of you who want an extrachallenge, think about more than simply writingin first-person point of view build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one per-sonality quirk, for example, either through spo-ken dialogue or inner monologue.
Refer to some of the exercises weve done oncharacter, dialogue, and even sentence length tohelp craft this person. All of these storytelling ele-ments can combine to create a strong point of view.
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19DON'T STOPTHE ROCKIN'
Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, dontstop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and nosecond guessing: just go. Bonus points if youtackle an idea youve been playing with but thinkis too silly to post about.
I want you to let it all hang out. So does writerAnne Lamott. At the risk of turning The DailyPost into an Anne Lamott fangirl blog, no one moti-vates me the way she does. Every time you sit downto write and think your idea is too stupid, too unin-teresting, too random, or too unoriginal to be com-mitted to the page, let Anne give you a gentle butfirm nudge:
The rational mind doesnt nourish you. You assumethat it gives you the truth, because the rational mindis the golden calf that this culture worships, but thisis not true. Rationality squeezes out much that isrich and juicy and fascinating.
Dont look at your feet to see if you are doing it right.Just dance.
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, theenemy of the people.
I dont think you have time to waste not writingbecause you are afraid you wont be good at it.
Youll never feel so good about writing down everyhalf-baked non-sequitur that comes out of therecesses of your lizard brain. And if youre temptedto reply, Thats easy for her to say, shes a famouswriter! I give you:
I know some very great writers, writers you lovewho write beautifully and have made a great dealof money, and not one of them sits down routinelyfeeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not oneof them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one ofthem does, but we do not like her very much.
Four-hundred words. One at a time. Go.
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Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.Its the final chapter of the book already?! Lets
make sure we end it with a bang or, in our case,with some furious collective tapping on our key-boards. For this final assignment, lead us throughthe history of an object that bears a special mean-ing to you.
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhoodmemento all are fair game. What matters is that,through your writing, you breathe life into thatobject, moving your readers enough to understandits value.
Todays twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity
back in chapter five, but now, lets jump to theother side of the spectrum and turn to longformwriting. Lets celebrate the drawn-out, slowlycooked, wide-shot narrative.
How long is long? Thats entirely up to you todecide. You can go with a set number 750, 1000,or 2000 words, or more (or less!). Alternatively, youcould choose your longest post thus far in the chal-lenge, and raise the bar by, say, 300 words, 20 per-cent, three paragraphs whatever works for you.
Take time to brainstorm, write notes if youd like,and read other longer pieces for inspiration. Forexample, you could visit the Longreads topicpage in the WordPress.com Reader, or dive into oneof the excellent picks on Longreads.com.
If youre interested in tips on formatting longerposts on your blog, we have all the info you need.More writing inspiration? Check out this great col-lection of pieces on writing longform prose bynotable authors like Truman Capote, Guy Talese,and Katherine Boo.
42 THE EDITORS, WORDPRESS.COM
Writing 101: Build a Blogging HabitWriting 101: Build a Blogging HabitContentsIntroduction: Create a Writing HabitUnlock the MindA Room with a View (Or Just a View)Commit to a Writing PracticeSerially LostBe BriefA Character-Building ExperienceGive and TakeDeath to AdverbsPoint of ViewHappy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!Size MattersDark Clouds on the Virtual HorizonSerially FoundTo Whom It May ConcernYour Voice Will Find YouThird Time's A CharmYour Personality on the PageHone Your Point of ViewDon't Stop the Rockin'The Things We Treasure