I read a lot of lithub. It's where I go when I miss literary analysis for literary analysis' sake.
It's also where I go to remind myself that writing is a process. Some articles fall into grammatical technicalities of the craft (like this one on semi-colons in Garth Greenwell's Cleanness, or this one on Lauren Groff's ability to create action without verbs). Others speak to the heartache and tenacity needed to survive your dreams of authorship (like the challenge that comes from writing about your own family in this article or a reflective piece about what running an MFA-bro parody twitter can teach you).
But nevertheless, lithub reminds me that writing is a craft. One that demands drafts that require redrafts that likewise need revision, beta-readers, editing, and the works. Worst (best?) of all? Writing relies on creativity as process and craft.
So many people think creativity is an inborn trait, that all we need to master is our command of grammar, and to push through writer's blocks because our creativity is ~innate~. But just like the analysis required of algebra, creativity is a skill that needs flexing.
As an amateur artist (and I use the word amateur here lovingly), I know to stretch my hand before starting a larger project. In drawing, painting, etc. there's the need to throw some sketches out first then get to the gritty. In a way, I'd compare this less to first novel drafts and more to writing for the sake of writing.
Here's the thing:
Not everything needs to be published.
Sure--that much I learned from my 40-week writing challenge (which you can read about here).
But take notes. Make observations. Try to detail them as exact and vivid as possible. I'd done these things in my own way, though never kept them compiled in a notepad. Instead, my notes just hopped from phone to phone, save for the years I wrote observations on my childhood desk.
So whatever your own challenge may be--40-week prompts, fanfiction drabbles, character sketches for the next great American novel--take 10 minutes a day to just write for the sake of word-making. (Yeah! Word-Making! Not even storytelling!) Write a sentence that indulges you, that most editors would snuff as pretentious or tell you is a bit of sentimental drivel.
Sketch a second of your life in that exact moment--the sun half-cast into your classroom or office--or play a small piece of your daydreams--how sometimes the skyscrapers outside your window look more like mountains splattered with stars on their trails.
Anyway, below the cut are some of my written sketches: an incomplete, ever-growing and endless listicle of my notes, observations, and one-liners...