Writing Challenge, Day 3: The Inspiration Jar

30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge

Day 3: What’s the BEST writing advice you ever received?

“Good writing is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” That both reminds me my frustrations are worthwhile and encourages me to keep sweating because it means I’m going somewhere. It means that any writer can start with almost nothing, or something quite shoddy, and with continued hard work transform it into a shining masterpiece.

It also makes me feel a whoooole lot better about the short story that I’ve been working on for over a month 🙂

Another thought this ratio begets: the value of saving up ideas for a rainy day. Last year I started a running document of ideas. It contains plots, lines, images, metaphors, concepts. If I can reach into that document like a jar and start with a single idea—just one grain of inspiration—and with time and effort turn it into a castle of stars, that’s a very good reason to jot down the smallest of whims or details. Better yet, maybe I will keep an actual jar. I feel an art project coming on!

What writing advice do you hold sacred?

30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 1: The Knife

Hey Wordaholics,

Today I am starting The 30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge put out by Writer’s Relief. They promise hard questions. I promise cool answers. Check back to the Read Room for more, and feel free to chime in!

Also, because it’s the first day of a new month and my life has been lagging in the in-between and otherwise stagnant for too long, I am setting some other 30 Day goals for myself to get things moving:

  1. Run every other day (engage the body, engage the mind).
  2. Spend at least one hour each day researching and planning future / next move options. (I am currently considering: graduate school. Classes & part-time work. Travel. Teaching abroad. A writing course abroad. Working on a vineyard for 6 months to a year, ideally in France. I have a lot to figure out and it’s time to stop letting it intimidate me.)
  3. Freewrite for half an hour each day.

On to the question, then.

30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge

Day 1: What do you consider your greatest strength as a writer?

For me every sentence is a struggle. I am forever trying to catch the light of dusk in the lace curtain and on the ivory keys, how the pianist’s pearl earrings danced when she turned her neck, and the way the little girl in the tutu and ballet slippers pressed her red lips together to taste strawberry paint.

What I’ve become good at, after years of over-writing here and missing the mark there, is stepping back from the canvas, looking at it objectively, and then—without wincing—turning on my delicate, sugar-spun details and slashing them when they do not belong. I have learned the mercenary art of taking a knife to my pages.

The Knife: incidentally, a very good band. Check it.