“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.”
—Unknown

You Need to Ask this Question Every Time You Sit Down to Write

How can you make your writing more you?

Because in this world it’s so easy to be not you.

writing Question

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres

When you write, you can be envious

If I imitate other writers I admire, maybe then people will want to read my writing.

You can feel boring

If my writing truly reflected who I am, no one would want to read it.

You can feel shame

 If I wrote how I really feel, people would think I’m psycho/dangerous/needy/selfish/weird, and they would avoid or even exclude me.

You can feel egotistical

I only write perfect pieces of sheer genius. It would be beneath me to write something less than perfect.

You can be lazy

It’s not worth it to fully put all of myself into my writing.

You can be selfish

They’re not worth it to fully put all of myself into my writing.

When You Write, Ask Yourself…

How can you make what you’re writing more you?

You may be writing a novel or a blog post or even an essay for school. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing. It matters how you’re writing.

How can you put more of your personal weird/selfish/needy/dangerous/psycho self into your writing?

How can you write something that emanates your soul?

Here’s Why This Matters

If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men—you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.
—Thomas Merton

You don’t ask this question for yourself. That’s the road to narcissism.

You don’t even ask this question for your readers. Yes, you’re writing will be better and more interesting if you put more of your unique personality into it. However, that’s not why you do it.

The reason you write to express your unique personality is because when we fully express ourselves, we share something holy with the world, an offering, of sorts.

“God made me fast,” says Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire. “And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”

When you write, it can be more than just capturing your thoughts for posterity’s sake. It can be more than an attempt to entertain others.

Your writing can connect you to something greater, bigger. However, you can’t get there if you’re not honest.

So, how can your writing be more you today?

Do you ever feel like your not being truly yourself when you write? Why do you think that is?

PRACTICE

Spend fifteen minutes free writing today. Give your writing as much you as you can.

When your time is up, share your practice with the community in the comments section.

Happy writing!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • Chris

    Wow. Perfect timing. Just started my first novel- a sci fi fantasy thriller. I’m both excited and scared. I’ve been planning this novel for a year, but keep putting it off because of middle school. I feel like this is really me. Thanks for the great post!

    Chapter 1

    He saw
    the flashing lights behind him. His hands were moist from sweat and anxiety as
    he sped up. He swerved around the corner and sped up to ninety, cruising along
    the interstate, weaving, navigating between cars. The blue and red lights persisted
    as they kept up, matching his challenge of speed. Up to a hundred by now, with
    no cars in sight. He had done nothing wrong, but there was no way to prove it.
    He had to escape or get convicted.

    He
    turned up the music, hoping to frown out the nervousness of the chase. At each
    exit, the lights behind him got denser and the sound of sirens got louder; and
    with each exit, he turned up the volume of the radio. The trees whizzed past
    him. The lights were gaining on him, the sounds entering his mine. Nothing wrong,
    he had told himself. I did nothing wrong.

    He
    suddenly saw that his upcoming exit was nearing, and he cut in front of a car
    next to himself. The car swerved and honked. The exit was five hundred feet
    away, then four hundred, three hundred, two hundred. He pulled off, slowed down
    back to eighty, and swerved to the left. As he did so, one tire got airborne,
    and his car flipped in a series of rotations until it crashed in a smoking heap
    by the tree line. The lights behind him slowed and the dark figures lept out of
    their cars as he did.

    “Stop!
    Stop! We’ll shoot!”

    He ran
    into the tree line, hearing bullets occasionally fire. He knew his destination
    was coming closer, and with each step, his heart pumped faster. Seconds passed
    and turned into minutes. The police were still hot on his trail but he was safe
    for now. He had arrived.

    “Well,
    Calixto, you sure look like a wreck,” Alcott said.

    “Thanks.
    I just got in a car wreck, a high speed police chase, and probably the FBI’s
    top ten list.”

    “Really.
    What brings you here? And why are you so messed up?”

    “I’m
    telling you. I’m serious. Just let me in. Please! If you don’t believe me, go
    walk out into the trees and get yourself shot. ”

    Alcott
    let Calixto into the warehouse on the side of the tree line. He unlocked a door
    and led him downstairs underground. It was dark and damp, but it provided
    safety. Calixto looked around but Alcott shoved him in and locked the door
    behind him. The room had a large table in the center, and a monitor to show
    presentations.

    “I’m
    telling you, if those officers find out what’s really here, I’m going to whip
    you so hard you won’t know what happened. In fact, I think I deserve to know
    what did happen,” Alcott said. He threw Calixto into a swivel chair and sat
    down himself.

    Sorry for the vague ending. I’m still planning it from here. Thanks for all the help!

    • Miriam N

      Nice I love stories with action and high speed chases :). Keep up the good work 🙂

      • Ladd

        Thanks!

    • You own us the rest! Great action scene. I wish you the best with your first novel! Keep the good worl

    • EndlessExposition

      Tell me about it, school gives you no time to write 😛

    • Pedro Hernandez

      Great writing! I really like how you kept us in the dark, making us wonder what he had done. I absolutely hope you continue this! Keep up the good work!

    • Avril

      That’s an exciting beginning, gets the blood pumping! I hope you’ll post more, so we learn what happens next.

  • George McNeese

    This is an excellent post. I struggle with this topic since I got back into writing: writing that reflects the real me. The real me is not that exciting to me. And I feel others may see that in my writing. As you say, though, that should be a goal. I need to put my whole being into my writing, no matter how trivial or boring or exciting or weird it may be. It’s my life, no one else’s.

    • Ladd

      It’s my life, no one else’s.

      Great line! I love it!

    • Why do you think the real you isn’t exciting? And why do you feel like you need to be exciting?

      • George McNeese

        I don’t think of my life as adventurous. If I was to ask someone their opinion of my life, I think they would say something to the contrary of what I believe. Being a husband and father has its share of adventures; adventures I don’t think of as adventures. But that’s where I need to look beyond what’s in front of me; cherish and record every moment. Take the ordinary and find ways to make it extraordinary.

    • Avril

      Remember many great stories are about average people in challenging or extraordinary circumstances. Don’t forget most readers are average Janes and Joes. They will deeply connect with you if you take them to places they’ve never been. Think Catcher In The Rye, Oliver Twist, Tom Sawyer, most of the classics.

    • Every single one of us can give something wonderful.

  • Miriam N

    alright so here’s my practice. I hope you like it. Action scenes are what i truly am inside so I feel this fits me perfectly.

    They were coming. that much was evident. There was no running this time, they had me despite many days of running. How long had I thought I could hold them off for? Certainly longer than this.

    I looked through the papers on my desk throwing the contents this way and that. Finally I found what I was looking for. I turned the knob of my desk and a compartment opened. There lay an emerald necklace the most powerful of its kind. If my enemies got a hold of this, all of the preparations to keep it a secret would be lost.

    Gunfire. It wouldn’t be long now. I slipped the necklace on and glanced once more around my old compartment.

    Everything was out of place. My papers were strewn about the room and the many pieces of furniture were either in shambles or lying on the ground in heeps. I wouldn’t miss this place but it was still sad to leave.

    I began to check it I had everything. Rope? check. Gun? check. Lockpicks? check. I continued my list, feverishly checking everything. Looks like i’m ready to–

    The door burst open and men in black suits entered wielding guns.

    “The games over Angela. We have every exit covered. You’re coming with us.” A voice I knew all well spoke out of the crowd.

    “The way I see it, its only begun. You’ll never take me alive, Andrew.” I said beginning to back towards the only window. Just keep him talking. I thought to myself. Just a little further… but it was too late. two men broke from the group and blocked my only exit.

    “You think I’m stupid?” he asked almost laughing aloud. “You’re coming with us whether you like it or not.” with that I felt my weapons being wrestled from me as they forced me to my knees. This is it, i thought miserably as my heart pounded loud and hard. They have me and the emerald. Perhaps they don’t know I have it. I thought vainly as my hands were quickly cuffed.

    I heard footsteps near me, Andrews. “Just take a little whiff of this for me,” a vial was held under my nose. I held my breath and tried to jerk back but it was too late. My vision failed despite my attempts to stay alert. Slowly I drifted off, helpless to any attempts to escape.

    • Exciting! Sounds like an adventure story in the making… 🙂

      • Miriam N

        Thanks for the comment dawn 🙂

    • First of all, Miriam: I SWEAR that I didn’t read your practice before mine, hahaha I used an “Andrew” too, LoL!

      This is an excitmente story. I want to read more. Even reminds me a little to Sidney Sheldon, with the lady protagonist facing almost impossible situations and surviving them. I repeat: I want to read more!

      • Miriam N

        Haha don’t worry about that. I just realized that myself. You know this isn’t actually a story at the moment. It may turn into something later but that is just the type of things i have swirling in my head. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • How fun! Interesting bit about the necklace. I wonder what kind of power it has.

      • Miriam N

        Thanks for the comment Joe

    • oddznns

      You ARE good with the action scenes Miriam. I could just go on with ths;)

      • Miriam N

        Thanks oddznns. 🙂 It’s my favorite thing to write. Action scenes that is.

    • SK

      Drags you right in, reads fast as I would imagine the scene happens

      • Miriam N

        Thanks for the comment SK.

    • Avril

      Love this, Miriam! It involves the reader immediately. I want Angela to escape, and I want to know what’s up with the necklace!!!

      • Miriam N

        thanks for the comment avril

  • From One to Ten

    One skinny blonde guy is sitting in his desk, where he is writing codes in a PC. He is listening to his cell phone.

    “I need to speak with you”, hears Andrew. is Angelina’s voice.
    “Are you ok?”, replies Andrew.
    “Yes, sure, sure. But, I just… need”, says Angelina.

    There is silence for two seconds.

    “Sure. Sure… Tonight, Patricia is going to cook some chinese food, if you want, can tell Fred and let’s dinner the four of us”.
    “No, Andrew. I need to speak with you. In private”.

    There is silence for theee seconds.

    “Oh… Ok”, Andrews watchs the time in his computer. “Look, I can go to eat something now. If you want we can meet in the Burger’s Palace in 10 minutes”.
    “Ok, I’ll be there”.

    The call is over.

    Andrew stay freezed in front of his computer for a while. His eyes are in the wall, his mind with Angelina. Four knocks in the door takes him back to Earth.
    “Andrew, I’m going to eat now. See you later”, says David.

    “Ok, boss. I’m going with you”, Andrew takes his coat and walks out from the bank with David.

    6 minutes later he is in the Burger’s Palace, sitting in a table and looking at his watch. Then, Angelina goes into the restaurant. She is a brunette wearing jeans and a white sweater, even with that, her body looks beautiful. They see each other. Andrew smiles. She doesn’t.

    Andrew stands up and kiss her in the cheek. Angelina smiles a little bit. They sit in front of each other.

    “Hey, how you being?”, says Andrew.

    “I’m ok, I’m ok”.

    “And Fred?”

    “He is fine”.

    Seven seconds of silence.

    “Let me cut to the chase, Andrew. I… I cannot stop thinking about you”.

    “I’m sorry to heard that. That wasn’t my intention”, Andrew blinks, trying to avoid the tension of the moment.

    “This is no joke. The last time the four of us went to ski, I felt something, different, something. I have no words to explain it”.

    “Angelina, I felt the same”, Angelina didn’t expect that answer. “I mean, I enjoyed our words in front of the fireplace of the hotel’s lobby. Your eyes were full of sparkles, your smile made the place to look brigther… but then I had to go back to my bedroom, where Patricia waited for me. As always. At least since 8 years ago that we are married”.

    Angelina’s face is red. “You are right, this is so stupid”.

    “It is clear for me, you need to talk. I’m here now for the next 9 minutes at least. It is everything ok between you and Fred?”.

    “Yes. We are fine”.

    “I think, you should talk with him. Like we are talking now”.

    Angelina nods sadly.

    “I think I have to go back to work”.

    “What if…?” Angelina says. Looks to Andrew’s eyes.

    “What if we take a night out for ourselves? Just you and me. Just one night”.

    Silence, uncountless silence. The tension is growing up. Andrew looks at her eyes, full of brigthness again.

    “Ok… Let’s say, that I call Patricia, telling her that I must go to a near city office to fix a***problem and I have to spend the rest of the day and i will back tomorrow. What’s next?”.

    “We meet us at 10 O’clock in the bus terminal. We go to a next city hotel and let’s find out what happens”.

    It is 10:00 O’Clock. Andrew check his watch, he is waiting in the bus terminal. No signs of Angelina.

    Not even in the next hour. Andrew takes his cell phone, makes a call. “Honey, I’m going back home… no, no, everything is ok. It’s look like the problem was solved… by itself”.

    Andrew takes his bag and goes back to home.

    Angelina never speak to him again.

    ********************************************************************

    Great exercise. I didn’t know I had this in my mind. Cheers!

    • Funny! It went from something unrequited, to an illicit rendezvous, to being stood up and all is as it should be. What a wild ride! 🙂

      • Thanks, Dawn for the description! I’m very pleased that you like it

    • Avril

      As usual Teo, you create an intriguing little situation in 15 minutes. Great characters, interesting events with a real surprise ending. Very nice!

      • I’m gladd you enjoyed again. Thanks for the feedback!

  • I’ve been envious, boring, shamed, egotistical, lazy, and selfish. I see
    the potential for narcissism in any artistic endeavor. But I also know
    that I am as well as we all are, unique as snowflakes, as fingerprints,
    as family trees. All I have to offer my writing is my personality and
    observations. The rest is derivative.

    For many years, I acted. The maxim is the same. The best you can give to a role is your honest emotions and choices, as if you were walking in the character shoes. The actors we admire bring forth their truth and unvarnished selves. This is, of course, different from the Cult of Celebrity, which is the opposite of artistic expression, a distraction from what’s meaningful, and a villain in the story of our culture.

    Our truth lies in our vulnerability. And so, I am my worst enemy for expressing my own truth. Fear and insecurity block my words. These are phantoms, monsters in the
    closet. Surrounding my truth and vulnerability is a high wall surrounded by a deep moat. Archers stand on the wall and serpents swim in the moat. I must ferry my truth through secret caverns, trick myself into revealing who I am in my writing. Always the desire is to offer myself into the light, free from conditioned captivity and learned helplessness.

    • Miriam N

      I relate to this. Thanks for sharing Dawn.

    • I love all the metaphors you use, because makes the message clearer. Even I imagine this text as an animated short film.

      I’m also an actor like you and I know exactly what you mean. I didn’t see it like that before. Thanks for sharing, Dawn!

    • This was so beautiful, Dawn. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us.

    • Delightful, soft and vulnerable. Reads like a silk scarf: floating, uncertain, travelling on the breeze beneath its weave. Threads – lost, found, unwound.

      Thanks Dawn. This sharing resonated and gently nudges me forth. Muse-ward and poetic.

      Big hug to you from another Dawn 🙂

      • You honor me with your poetry, Dawn. Big hugs back!

    • oddznns

      Thank you for sharing Dawn. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to open up.

    • Avril

      Oh Dawn you express this so well. I appreciate your excellent metaphors; they get right to the point. What you say so beautifully I would express in my Joe Friday Just The Facts Ma’am way: That the daily pressure of life to conform, not stand out, not make waves, not react to a thousand provocations, it causes us to operate with an arsenal of filters. We filter our speech, actions, body language, facial expressions, eye movements. These filters become deeply ingrained in our brains’ wiring. We can’t just turn it on and off at will, we aren’t even aware of it. For me this is the hard part of writing.

      • Loved your Joe Friday Way. Your direct language nailed it.

  • Avril

    In a previous practice, I introduced Preston and Yvonne, the bad husband and the good wife. At the end of that practice, their car was hit by a truck and they both died instantly. For today’s practice, 15 minutes of what happens next:

    Preston woke up on a ladder. He could feel the ladder rails in his hands, and could feel the rung under his feet, yet could barely make out the outlines. He was surrounded by a murky darkness, lit softly, as if a night light were on somewhere beneath him. As he woke up fully, he realized his grip was not secure. The ladder felt oily, and his hands and feet were slipping. He leaned into the ladder, and tried to wrap his hands around the sides.

    While Preston struggled to cling to the ladder, he noticed a rustling sound moving close to his feet, followed by what sounded like soft whispering. Preston’s right foot slid off the rung, and as he tried to move it back and plant it securely, the distinct sound of giggling wafted up to him. His right foot was only partway back on the ladder when his left foot slid sharply back and down. His right foot slid off, and his hands were now too greasy to hold his body weight. Preston fell backward off the ladder, and fell through a narrow, dark tube. He fell for what seemed like several minutes, and started having the chest pains of a panic attack. The giggling he’d heard below became louder and turned into outright raucous laughter. Preston called for help, and when none arrived, his cries turned to terrified, desperate shrieks.

    Preston woke up again, this time lying on his back in mud. He could feel the thick, gooey moisture, and felt the suction of the muck as he sat up. Sitting in the mud, he noted that it lacked any sensation of cold. His back was completely soaked, but he was not cold. It wasn’t a hot spring though, as he also did not feel warmth. He was still in murky darkness, illuminated very slightly from somewhere just beyond his vision. He felt weak and shaky, yet managed to stand up.

    As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he made out a shoreline, and understood he was on the shore of a large, ink black lake. The sky was hazy yellow gray, and a light blackish grey mist hovered offshore. Outlines of black swampy trees on the left bank played with his imagination. Were they really there, or was it just shapes made by the mist as it swirled around the lake?

    Alone, confused, and lost, Preston looked out over the lake, for a sign of life. With the mist growing thicker and continuing to drift, when he finally did see movement on the far side, he wasn’t sure if it was real. As he watched carefully for openings in the fog, he was pretty sure he could make out a little boat coming toward him from the other side. He wanted to call for help, but his voice came out as a whisper. He wanted to jump up and down, but he had waded into the water, and his legs were in the muddy bottom up to his shins. He had to settle for waving his arms wildly.

    As the boat slowly glided closer, he could see it was a rowboat, and the boatman appeared to be quite old, due to his slow, weak paddling stroke and a noticeably hunched-over posture. When the boat had made enough progress that Preston could make out the boatman’s clothing, he was surprised to see the man wore a simple hooded robe with wide sleeves, like a monk’s habit. The hood was pulled up, and the man looked downward, so his face was not visible.

    When the boat had come close enough that Preston thought he might wade out to meet it, the boatman quickly raised his head. In the darkness, it was impossible to see his face. Through the mist, only two pinpoints of light shone in the darkness, where the eyes should be. The boat no longer moved toward Preston, it appeared the boatman did expect him to wade out of the shallow water. Preston was confused by the lights under the hood, and wasn’t sure what he should do next. As he stood there staring, the lights grew bright and dazzling, as if a light was shining on two diamonds in the boatman’s eye sockets.

    Preston could not run away, he had now sunk to his knees in the mud, and it felt like wet cement clamping him down. He stopped waving his arms, and wrapped them around his torso and hugged himself tightly. He hung his head, to avoid the brilliant gaze. Still unable to shout or speak, he slowly exhaled a long moan, “Nooooooooo”.

    • Scary!

    • Avril, thanks for sharing the “after crash” part. Keep the good work!

    • Nightmarish! Very creative.

      • Avril

        Thank you, “nightmare” was exactly the ambiance I strove to evoke.

  • ‘Wounds given: Wounds healed’

    This rag of
    This linen unravelling of
    This cottoned trail of
    Me
    A thousand threads woven
    A thousand words spoken
    A thousand lies buried
    A thousand snarls at heretics and coven
    I release unto this
    Weeping parts unbroken
    Yet within
    This rag, this linen, this cottoned story
    I cannot adjust my eyes to see
    I reach in – I touch this umbilical flirt of unwinding
    I drop my brow, lower my weary lids
    The billow of silk tempts me
    Am I worthy –  is this
    This rag of
    This linen twist of
    This cotton bled trail of
    Me
    Ready, worthy, willing
    To be unwrapped, revealed, set free
    I reach forward, arms open – hope
    I bow my head, eyes closed – reverence
    I curve my navel, away from – fear creeps in.
    This flock of fabric:
    a girdle to my freedom
    a canopy for my bleeding
    a canvas for my unknowing.
    This dressed up dialectic – dilutes me.
    With this linen, raped, I am grown
    I evaporate unspoken now
    May this cotton rope I am thrown
    Soak up my struggle,
    Make true my deeper vows
    Wipe clean my indecision
    Make clear my vision
    Bundle me in to
    One Woman
    Whole
    Written.
     


    • Last line should read ‘Un-written’

      Can’t seem to edit on iPad. 🙂

    • Wow. Intense and beautiful. I particularly liked this line Dawn, “I reach in – I touch this umbilical flirt of unwinding.” Thank you for sharing this.

      • Thanks Joe.
        Yep, there always one interesting little gem that finds it’s way out.
        Regards Dawn

    • Miriam N

      Nice. I really liked this dawn. Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

      • Thanks Miriam.
        I used a picture of an old painting of a woman wrapped in some twisted cloth as inspiration and went for it.
        Regards Dawn

    • Avril

      Intensely lyrical and moving

    • Evocative, filled with yearning, very beautiful.

  • SabrinaG

    I don’t know if this counts for the practice today, but this is what I came up with. Not exactly along the lines of the prompt, but I wrote anyway. It’s a very rough draft. There’s a lot of annoying grammatical errors. Everything is very generic and vague. Not yet fully fleshed out.

    Context: t’s in a world in the far future, where there is desolation everywhere, but a young leader has rebuilt the country stronger and better advanced in every arena of life, especially the sciences. Her leadership has been questioned and now people are rebelling against her due to many vicious events made by the new Queen.

    ” Please don’t.”
    ” I must, and you know it.”
    ” They have enough of men. I need you…with me”
    He looked at those brown eyes, filled with desperation, then looked away. It only foreboded what will come of his decision.
    ” That she monster is terrorizing this whole country. It’ll be the end of Marie and Tess.” He opens the door to his fateful end, while shrill, bellowing screams ring out from the woman’s mouth as he closes the door shut. She knew those broad shoulders and sturdy figure that always relieved her worries was gone forever.

    Not too far off and not too long after, a fight was arising in the Spades Castle, located at the heart of the country.

    ” Please don’t, Valeria.”
    ” Oh, Alec. Things are changing for the better. No more poverty, no more slavery, no more abuse from higher powers…” she says as she puts on the last piece to her attire: a sapphire earring. Flourishing in waves of purple silk, she glides to the maps on the wall as her elaborate dress swishes with her every movement.

    ” It’s been over 11 years since then, but I can tell, you still remember. You always remember. Everyday I watch you do the impossible. Regrow impoverished cities, find new innovations in science that seemed unimaginable to discover, and above all else, you began the beginning of many wars…Please Valeria, forget them. I know its about them. Let’s end this conquest.”
    A pool of colors streamed on the floor from the shattered, colorful glass pieces hung on the ceiling.
    ” It’s high noon. It’s time.”
    ” Queen Corvanna.”
    Tension sizzled through the air.
    ” Queen Corvanna, you say….was a speck of dust in the wind,” she adds as she walks closer to the gilded door.
    ” No. No, you let Queen Corvanna steer you to start all this…obsession. You amazed me. I believed I could recreate this devastated world to it’s original state as my mad father dreamed it to be, but right now, what reasons that let me allow for this all to happen has changed, because I see now how much I lost you and how much you lost yourself.”
    She waits, her back to him, listening.
    He continued with a trying spirit, ” Those days of loss and hopelessness are over. That was long ago. I’m here. We’re together.”
    The last word he said reverberated throughout the room like a ringing, old bell, bringing back flickers of memories in the past.
    ” The sun is high over the city. It calls me to do what must be done. Those days of wretchedness, loss, grief, tribulation, and tragedy will end today.” In a spur of haste, she walks out of the room and the door closes shut, leaving Alec alone in a stormy violence of emotions.

    • The prompt was for you, and I love what you made from it. This is INTERESTING Sabrina. Don’t worry about the grammar stuff. Just keep moving on it!

      • SabrinaG

        Great! Thanks for the comment! 🙂 I appreciate it.

    • The prompt was for you, and I love what you made from it. This is INTERESTING Sabrina. Don’t worry about the grammar stuff. Just keep moving on it!

    • Avril

      This is a good beginning! You’ve set the stage for your characters and their future world.

  • Beca Lewis

    I love this Joe. How true! Thank you for the reminder!

  • SK

    Sitting at the simple IKEA desk, the dark wood desk top acting as a black hole for his thoughts, pulling them into the abyss as quickly as they came. The computer screen had been staring back at him for a solid hour and a half, the low hummmm of the computer taunting him to pound on the keys and get going, or throw it out the window onto the overgrown lawn that should of been trimmed by now instead of allowing his back side to become numb while conversing with no one.

    “Who do I think I am? Hemingway? Steinbeck? It’s a stupid story. You work construction, you’re not an author!”

    “You never even took a writing class”, the voice of long since passed High School counselor chuckled.

    “I have to tell the story”

    “Why?

    Do you really believe anybody cares what you have to say?” crushingly was from the ex wife living the perfect life in another state, in a large home overlooking the sandy beach.

    “I do”

    “Are you kidding? You’re sitting alone, in a tiny little house, in a darkened room not lit with the 2:00pm sun, with your dust covered lamp shade that was given to you by your grandmother” A half empty bottle of screw top red wine peaked over the top of the laptops screen, tempting him to skip the time consuming effort of pouring it into a glass and just get to drinking.

    “If it wasn’t for spell check half the words you typed would be wrong” an unknown sound of a voice tossed into the mix.

    “It’s important, what if only one person likes it? Isn’t it worth it?” he demanded back.

    “All that effort for one person?” from the rear of his head

    “Sure!”

    “No one is going to buy it, give it up” the ex piped in again.

    “But it is screaming to get out, I can’t explain it but it is consuming my head and i need to get it out somehow”

    The wine’s odor so strong it was as visible and powerful as the scene from Mickey Mouse’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia, floating towards him, uncontrollable no matter how much he tried to have power over it, to stop it. Extending his hand, gripping the throat of the bottle, he took a gulp of the potion.

    “Maybe if I ever finish this, regardless of all else, these voices will stop.

    Confidently a new voice contributed, “……………………………….

    • Miriam N

      Nice Sk. This reminds me of many chats I’ve had with myself when I thinking of how to start a new chapter. Thanks for sharing :).

    • Avril

      Why do we have to be stuck with brains that do this to us????

  • Sarah Somewhere

    Awesome article, thank you. LOVE that Chariots of fire quote and also the Thomas Merton one. Thank you!!!

  • Julie Davis

    Mother is driving me crazy.
    Last night we had the first fight we’ve had. She knows exactly how to push the knife in
    and twist it. I got to feel more and
    more helpless as she went on, becoming more bitter and angry and paranoid. It was like when I was a child and she would yell at me until I wanted to hide under the bed.

    Looking back at how helpless I felt, I can see that she was just – no,
    not “just”, because that demeans it – she was probably suffering from
    depression. My father was not the love
    of her life, and she was a 50s housewife stuck in the suburbs with two
    boisterous children. I recently found out that she did have a love of her life,
    but things did not work for them. She
    didn’t want to talk about him, so I didn’t push, because she is unhappy enough
    as it is. Taken away from her own home
    and put into a place where she doesn’t want to be, even though it’s very
    nice. She misses the trees and the sound
    of the birds outside her own house; she wants to be able to sleep when she
    wants and stay up to watch Letterman.

    Sometimes I want to smack her and sometimes it breaks my
    heart watching her slip away from us.
    But I think I discovered something useful today. She called me to apologize for last night and
    then asked what we were doing today. I
    mentioned that we were going out to lunch at our favorite pizza place. Mom said “I don’t suppose I could go with
    you?” I said “Well, it’s an hour and a
    half drive to get to you, and then we’d have to take you back.” Then some inner intuitive wisdom told me that
    logic was not the best way to approach this, so I said “I wish you could go
    with us too.”

    I work in a lab where people kill mice and study the effects
    of toxins on their bodies. I hate, hate,
    hate that. But sometimes I think if they
    could find a cure for Alzheimers I would get down on my knees and thank all
    those little mice.

    • Avril

      I appreciate this accurate, sensitive piece about learning to deal with your mother’s illness. Especially challenging if the relationship has been difficult, and if mother suffered a lifelong mental or emotional illness. I’ve been there.

  • AnnM

    Lyn sat and watched the play; was good, interesting and funny. She should be laughing but she wasn’t; it actually made her sad to watch. The yearning to be up there on the stage was still right there and just as potent. The same old self was there too, intimidating her and demeaning her.

    She’d been mediocre in everything she did in school and in music, which she loved to much. Why couldn’t she be really good at something? One thing? Or not want to do any of it then perhaps she could just sit here and enjoy other people’s talent. But no! She just sat there sad and resentful. “Why did you come?” She thought… Because you love live shows was her unspoken answer to herself.

    Oh she’d taken music lessons, an instrument and singing but although she enjoyed it and was somewhat proficient when it came down to performing she just choked! Big time! It wasn’t fair that she loved it all so much but just couldn’t be a part of it.

    In fact even in everyday conversation she seemed to be invisible, people would start talking about something else when she was still talking. Others would speak louder and get their point across but Lyn just stopped short and went back into her shell. It was her lot in life, she didn’t like it but didn’t know the way out. Was there even a way out?

    Then there was that book she started. The story just came to her one day and she loved it. Even putting pen to paper was enjoyable. Till she told someone about it and they questioned the details of her genre. After that it was hard to write, even doing research to try to get those details right didn’t help, neither did those that were spurring her on. She doubted now and that would probably be that, like everything else. Those voices were louder than her own. Seemed to know better than her that she would fail so why bother. Just go read a book written by someone who knows what they are doing. Go watch a play or listen to some music.

    Well here she was Watching. A great big unhappy, useless circle. Perhaps one day she’d find her voice…..

    • Miriam N

      Wow just got some daja vu. This so reminds me of, well, me. I can totally relate to the way that Lyn is feeling. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • AnnM

        Hope you’ve pushed through and found your groove! 🙂

    • Avril

      I totally relate to this.

    • Ah, yes, I get these feelings too well. Very nice work!

      • AnnM

        Thank you

  • I have done the yoyo on this one. At first my book read like a psychology textbook. I had a friend read it. She told me she liked more of the things about me. I was afraid to expose myself in my writing. Fear of what others would think of me, and fear of what they would think of the parts of me I keep hidden. Then I read a blog post on here about fatal flows. I knew I had plenty of them. The problem I am running into now is that a friend in a similar situation said it was so similar to how she felt it was difficult to read. She had to throw it against the wall about 12 times. Another friend said it was to intense for her to read. Now I am wondering if I should back off or keep telling the story. It is painful. There is no way around it.

    Chapter 7 The Good Mother Crisis

    After Christopher’s death these thoughts were
    torturous. How could a good mother not want to be there when their child is
    sick? A mother is the first one to the aid of a sick child. A mother holds
    their hand, comforts them, and protects them. Knowing that Christopher died,
    and I was not present made me a bad mother. The good mother code had been
    broken. How was I going to face my husband, my younger son,
    and myself knowing he died alone?

    As a mother I would have been watching over him. I know I would have noticed he stopped breathing. As it were, he stopped breathing, and was dead for a period of time before his best friend came back to find him dead. Throughout this time his two supposed friends had been in the room. It is inconceivable that they could be in a room with a dead body. Honestly, who does that?

    Knowing that a good mother would have been at his side
    I knew I was not a good mother. I was not there.

    A constant struggle from the time Christopher was born was making sure I was a good
    mother. One hint or one word that I was not a good mother would send me into a
    depression consistently throughout his life. My thoughts would race, my heart
    would pound, I was exposed to be the bad mother I was. After a few days the
    loathing of myself would subside. Life interrupted forcing me to go forward.
    The perceived mistake which had prompted the depression would go underground to
    be relived in those moments of questioning: “Am I a good mother?”

    This fear of not being a good mother came as most things do through the interactions with one’s own parents. The relationship between my mother and I has been rocky for most of my life. She is petite, blonde, and beautiful. I, however, am a carbon copy of my biological father. I have muddy blonde hair, blue eyes, with a stocky build. Not only were we different in appearances we were different in personalities. Her every day
    interactions with the people around her always had a bite to it. I on the other
    hand was well liked, and personable including a strong sense of independence
    with a strong will. Interactions between us were clashes of dominance which
    continue today. The strong will is both a strength and a curse for submission
    is not allowed. In any interaction with my mother submission was imperative for
    survival.

    My hypercritical mother was the one who set the standards for parenting for
    everyone else except her. She insisted she knew what a good mother was. “A good
    mother according to her never made mistakes” The problem being in her eyes I
    was a giant walking mistake. Growing up she often stated “Cristi, you have to
    live with me until you are 21 years. You are too stupid to make your own
    decisions.” Having Christopher when I was unmarried, and 19 years old did
    nothing to convince her she was wrong.

    With the death of my son these images and words came back to haunt me. Immediately, the old programming kicks in with the thought “I am a bad mother.” I had left my son in Louisiana, and he had died alone without me by his side. The guilt kicked
    convincing me I was a bad person, a bad mother that is why he died.

  • Luther

    My assignment that I have given myself is to “Free Write” for the next 15 minutes. I have never freewritten before as I am new to writing with the idea of learning and pushing
    myself to some degree to get better. I am retired, so I will not push but so
    hard.
    Ok, now I blank, so I will write about being blank until something comes in to my head. I have recently purchased a couple of books on outling novels and structuring novels
    by K.M Weiland and I hope these two books will help me. I have written several
    stories and one or two stories that could be classified as “Short Stories”, but
    they came out of my head with little or no structure. I feel like too much
    structure will not benefit me, but surely some structure will help. At least
    that is my instinct.
    My stories are in the first person and often they are based true happenings. I have always heard that one should write about what one knows and so that has been my approach; I know best my own stories and there is a never ending supply.
    I also am trying to be more disciplined about my writing with the goal of writing at least 30 minutes a day, Monday through Friday and then taking the weekend off to give myself a
    break. I am not rigid with this schedule and will 1 hour on writing and on
    another week skip Friday and move the time to a Sunday. I don’t want my life to
    become one dimensional, but I believe that the only way to improve performance
    in any endeavor is to have a disciplined practice. I sound German with that
    statement, but I’m Scots-Irish.
    My wife has become very interested in the HBO series “Outlander”( I think it is on HBO?) and I have watched a couple of the shows. It is based on some books which uses the settingof early 1700’s in Scotland and I have enjoyed what I have seen. My 15 minutes
    is up.

  • This is such a great (and difficult) thing to remember. I find myself shying from the things I want to write in fear of failing, because somehow I still have the idea that I can “do it wrong,” and tend to forget that all writing can be fixed. Thanks for such a helpful reminder.

  • Chloee

    “Stop!” I screamed inside my mind. I took a deep breath and fumbled with the tv remote trying to just the buffering episode of Spongebob to play for my three year old brother. I know what you all thinking. “Oh grow up life isn’t that tough.” And your right it isn’t it’s the rough patches and those have been happening quite often in my life currently which have made me want to just curl up in the fetal position and close my eyes and wake up from this nightmare we call life. Let me explain what’s made me feel like I want to rip out my hair. First of family troubles of course. My relatives, and I know we all have those insane hillbilly bottom feeder in breeding back stabbing person in out family well mostly everyone’s like that in my family with the exception of my mom dad and brothers and sisters so basically nine of us are perfectly stable. Stupid money God I hate that word why does everything have to revole around that. One day I hope to make enough money that I can basically throw it out of my car window. I know that money can’t buy happiness but it sure help you not worry. Mental stress that’s also a problem. So I’m sitting her listening to my little brother cry and I just want it to stop so after I make sure someone’s got him I climb upstairs to my bedroom and slip on my headphones and play “Green Day Hoilday” on full blast.

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  • Jewell Holland

    Wow, I love this. Write to use your talents, not for any other reason. Thank you!

  • Wow, very inspiring and thought provoking post. I like the idea of writing for something bigger than yourself. When I heard the advice of being yourself when writing, my first instinct was to force my personality into the writing, which I guess lifted it somewhat. As you say though, this can lead to narcissism. So going beyond yourself, asking how you can write authentically without being narcissistic about it, asking how you can write for something bigger than you, that’s the way to go. Awesome post. Thank you.

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  • The Thomas Merton quote is–in my opinion–dogmatic, prejudiced nonsense.

    I found this article through a tweet, and wanted to see what question the author thought I should be asking myself as I wrote. I was annoyed to see that the quote by Merton seems to be the explanation of “why this [article/writing prompt] matters”.

    So basically, all the agnostic/atheist writers throughout history should have never lifted a pen? Or else their writing isn’t as important as the work of people who wrote for God? Or theist writers who wrote for reasons other than “God” weren’t writing as well or as relevantly as they could have?

    If more writing was like LEFT BEHIND and fewer works were like THE CRUCIBLE and HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, the world would be a sadder, less interesting, more insipid place. That’s *my* opinion, anyway.

    I don’t have a problem with people’s faith informing their writing. We all write out of our most deeply held beliefs unless we’re writing cynically. But I also don’t have a problem with people writing out of their lack of belief.

  • Lela Markham

    When I write a character who is totally not me, I do not feel like myself. I think that’s a good thing. If all my characters were me, they’d all be the same character and that would be BORING.

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  • John Crafton

    I was just a boy then, well, I reckon I still am a boy. I just don’t think kids are supposed to go through that sort of mess. Not supposed to see those sorts of things, say and hear those sorts of words. Sometimes I still have to say ‘em.

    You see, the devil wears tap shoes, you can hear him on his way. Keeping in time. Lightnin’ fast. He’s also got this fiddle he scratches out notes on.

    The first time I saw him, he was perched on a stump, twitching like a wild animal. His tongue flickered as he tapped his shoe and slowly drug that fiddle across his horn.

    I couldn’t move, I just stood there watching.