Daily Challenge: Writing and/or Life

Image: RikScott

While this is only the second official installment of the new Daily Challenge format, those of you who have read UhW for some time know that challenges abound.

Today’s is a bit different.

Typically my challenges are about character development, dialogue, story arc, the basic nuts and bolts of fiction writing.  I trust these bon mots are useful to you.  They come from my own questions and struggle to write a better story.

Likewise, today’s topic comes more from real life than some stretch of a fantasy world.  The topic is time.

Elsewhere I’ve hinted at age and maturity being helpful to one’s writing.  I have also tipped my hat (so to speak) to younger writers who seem to have boundless energy, and who are still weeks, months, years—decades, even—from facing the physical slowdowns that come with advancing age.  Not, mind you, that I have anything against getting older.  It beats the hell out of the alternative.

But energy and concentration are the key.

In a flurry of excited discovery, of movement into new realms of writing, short stories, for example, blogging, journalism, and can I even whisper it?  Ghost writing?  Life can get complicated.  Difficult even. 

I have found that the harshest deadlines are those I impose upon myself.  A frenzy ensues.  An addiction to reach out, take on one more task, finish them all.  Time isn’t always on our side.

I love to write.  These days, one way or another, I write at least 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Is that cool, or what?  What?  No, you’re right.  It isn’t.

I love to write, but at what cost?  Do I think that my work, whatever it is at the moment will last?  What is the trade-off?

I love to write… but I am driven to write as well.

So, pardon the maudlinness (yes, a real word, I checked), and sing along with me for a moment.

Writing is life—for many of us, at least—but life is life, too.

Today’s challenge is to stop writing.  Stop for one day.  Don’t do any.  Don’t read, either.  Lay your books, your newspapers, your blogs, all of it, aside for one day.  Just one.  And see how it feels.

Chances are guilt will set in, but let that go.  See, the challenge is to stay involved in life.  In your life.  In the lives of those around you, even in the lives of strangers.  Where do YOU think the experience needed to write well comes from?  You don’t really believe you make this all up out of whole cloth, to you?

So, that’s it.  Maybe today isn’t the right day, but how about tomorrow?  I won’t be blogging tomorrow (stopped doing Sunday blogging a couple of months back).  How about you?

How about a walk in a park?  A drive in the woods?  A party with friends?  No, not a movie.  Even in a group, a movie is an individual experience.  Get out and be with people.  OK, fine, you can talk about writing, just don’t do any.

Then, come back and let us know how it went.

Your thoughts?

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8 responses to “Daily Challenge: Writing and/or Life

  1. First of all, congratulations on the ghost writing ‘job’ I trust you have attained. I now understand a past blog, but will reread it just to make sure I understand the/your context, and how I interpreted it.
    I guess my decision has already been made, when I told you yesterday that I am going to put off the Blog for the time being. In a way, from my point of view, my independence, my life is more important, and I have quite a bit on my hands with the book. So instead of blogging I will continue to ‘listen to my friends’ at the cafe, etc. and generally go about things the way I do.
    I may not accomplish as much writing, as I might were that to be my main or only focus. But sometimes, I just like to take the day off, (especially now that I’m older) and ‘realize’ where I am in life.
    Short story.
    There was a couple of really good definitions of style and theme on Nancy Curteman’s blog. I thought these over for myself, and after about a day brought it together, – again for me, because I realize now that what often is an important discovery for me, goes past, or is not appreciated for what I see in it by another person. So for my perspective on writing, I now hold that the Voice is the Who. The Style is the How. The Theme is the What. I have decided to leave the where and when, and of course the why, and the possibility of ignominy or laudatory success to ‘fate’…..grin grin.
    But it was a revelation for me. I now know what I am about in my writing. Thanks to the help of Aristotle’s four causes, material, efficient, formal and final. (He also had a first cause, kinda God!!!) End of story.
    I know I am not understood. I realized this when I read nrhatch’s attempt to ‘help’ out and show that she did not feel there was competition. So I know that my perspective is right, because ‘for me’ I shall keep from independence not from the deadlines but from the expectations of what and when I should write.
    And so I have the trilogy. I’m 68. Will I even finish that? Well that might make another story, – perhaps I can finish it after my ‘demise’.
    Hope I have met your challenge. Yesterday’s response was not quite a story, but I think it outlined a basic conflict between modernism and Postmodernism that effects us all; yes, not only in our life but in our writing.
    Thank you, as always Richard, for another thoughtful and helpful post, and for the challenge to think and try to be helpful, grin grin. Will no go check that ghost post!

  2. P.S. I’m going to be busy mind you, with your posts, etc. and I do plan on reading more about post-modernism, after all philosophy is an essential element in my book. But my book is so much a bringing together of (at least part) of my life. Sometimes I have to work to go back, and although I haven’t really understood what S. & G meant by the ‘sound of silence’, I know what it means for me. There may even come a time when I’ll be able to write short stories. I really admire your writing, Richard. You know I do.

  3. Good post, Rik. Life balance is key.

    Last night, Bill and I went for a walk in the waves. We watched faces filled with laughter and joy as children built castles, and adults watched their progress.

    A magical moment in time.

  4. So nrhatch has let us know it’s your birthday. I’m posting my Happy Happy Happy Birthday wish here, because it’s appropriate, and I even wonder if I understand where your mind has been the last couple of days. Remember that the following advice is very very good, and worth doing, especially today.

    How about a walk in a park? A drive in the woods? A party with friends? No, not a movie. Even in a group, a movie is an individual experience. Get out and be with people. OK, fine, you can talk about writing, just don’t do any.

    I would love to give you a present to express not only celebration of your day, but also my gratitude for being there.

    I thought of
    l. Downloading the lyrics of Time is On Our Side, but thought I would just tell you that.
    2. Giving a better interpretation of Dylan Thomas, because on rereading it I wonder if it was Dylan talking to his father at that critical time, and thought ‘Gee if you’re a Leo, you must be good at ‘Raging against the dying of the Light’…….So Lion, Rage On.
    3. Getting a horoscope together, but I don’t know your birth date, and do not know whether you follow such stuff even just for the fun of it.

    So, I have decided to just wish you again, a Happy Birthday. We deserve to celebrate a good one for every year we have lived the good life. All the best.
    And happy writing.

  5. Thank you, Loreen. I agree. I sometimes go back to the George Burns quote, “every day above ground is a good one”. Perhaps that sounds a bit flip, but I mean it wholeheartedly.

    • You’re a good lion! (Growl! -not rage!)

      • Whoops! I meant ‘roar’ not ‘rage’. Sometimes it takes me forever to get things right. I’m just going to have to live a long life in order to do it properly. So keep up the posts, it will keep me going……

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