17 Reasons to Write Something NOW

by Joe Bunting | 181 comments

This article was originally published in August 2012.

I get it. You're busy. You have other commitments: work, school, the kids, your friends. I understand.

I know writing a short story or a novel or a blog post is scary. What if someone reads it? And yes, it's true. You might fail. People might not like what you write. Worse, they might ignore your writing altogether.

However, if you've ever wanted to be a writer, now is the time to start. If you don't believe me, here are seventeen reasons to write something right now.

17 Reasons to Write Something NOW!


1. Your writing doesn't have to be perfect (yet).

Stop being such a perfectionist and write something. Write gibberish. Write terrible rhymes. Write whatever you're thinking. Write about what's around you. You can edit it later. All good writing is choosing the best words out of the bad words anyway. Go write a lot of bad words (pun intended if that's what it takes to get you started).

2. Writing is relaxing.

When you've had a long day, writing is one of the best ways to decompress. Let yourself get a little sleepy, a little loose, and then let the words flow. You actually write better when you're groggy, not fully awake, and relaxed.

3. You're going to get rejected no matter what.

You're more likely to get into Harvard than to get your short story published by a top literary magazine. However, rather than let that discourage you, let it free you up from perfectionism. You have nothing to lose now. Since you're going to be rejected no matter what, you can write whatever you want, submit wherever you want, and you'll be no worse off.

4. Thousands of publications want to publish you.

However, not all literary magazines are so difficult to be published by. According to Duotrope, are 4,368 publications who may want to publish short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. There have never been more people in the world who want to publish your work. So go find them.

5. Does the world really need another short story / book / blog post?

Is the world still in pain? Do people believe their lives are meaningless? Are there those who suffer from despair, ennui, narcissism, and loneliness?  Does war still exist? Do people still commit suicide? Do battered women still stay with the man who abuses them? Do fathers still abandon their children?

Yes, the world really needs another story.

6. Stop being a consumer.

You've read stories in books. You've listened to stories in songs. You've watched stories on the television screen. Aren't you tired of always being a consumer? Why don't you stop being a consumer and start creating a story?

7. You don't have to be a great writer to write something.

You don't need my permission to write. You don't need your teacher's permission to write. You don't need your parents' permission to write. Stop waiting for permission. Just go write.

8. Become a great writer.

You won't become a better writer if you don't write today. Great writers are not born, they are made slowly through daily, deliberate practice.

9. Create a writing habit.

It's easier to write something every day than it is to write three times a week. When you write every day, it becomes a habit. When you write three times a week, it takes willpower. Willpower is a limited resource. It will fail you. Habits, on the other hand, can last for a lifetime.

10. Build a writing career.

If you want to be a writer when you “grow up,” you have to write. You have to submit your work. You have to be rejected. You have to write something anyway.

If you want to start a career writing fiction, check out my new book about how to write and submit short stories.

11. Because you're never too old to write.

Mark Twain was forty-one before he published Tom Sawyer. Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prarie series, was in her sixties before she published her first novel. You're not too old to write, but you aren't getting any younger. Get started today.

12. Because you're never too young to write.

This month we published the first article of a monthly column by a The Magic Violinist, a disciplined, passionate, and talented writer. She has already completed three NaNoWriMo novels and has probably read more books about writing than I have. And she's twelve. You're not too young, but time goes by quickly. Get started today.

13. You can always find fifteen minutes.

Fifteen minutes a day, six days a week, we practice the craft of writing at The Write Practice. Do you have fifteen minutes for your passion?

14. Write to transform the world.

You want to make your mark on society. You want to help free people from depression, addiction, shame, self-focus, and hate. You want to do something that people remember. You want to create something that lasts generations, that's remembered for hundreds of years. You want to inspire someone to see life as it really is, a gift and a joy, something to be grateful for. You write to change the world.

15. Because balance is overrated.

Passionate people aren't balanced. Passionate people are actually kind of crazy. They're willing to sacrifice money, grades, prestige, power, entertainment, and sometimes even relationships for their priorities. And yet, who is happier? Passionate people or balanced people? You decide: are you going to be passionate or balanced.

16. Write something for your children.

Because your kids just want to hear your voice as you tell them a bed time story. Write for the people who are listening.

17. Write something for yourself.

In my book, Let's Write a Short Story! I wrote:

“I write because I know I’m meant to. I know that I need to. It’s good for my soul. It con­nects me to the human race. It feeds me.”

We write for others but we also write for ourselves. Your writing might transform someone's life, but it also might transform your life.

Are you going to write today?

Why do you write? Share your reasons in the comments section.


Free write.

Follow reason #1 and write imperfectly, exuberantly, and for the joy of it.

Write for fifteen minutes, and when you're finished, post your writing practice in the comments section.

And if you post, be sure to show some community spirit and comment on a few other writers' posts.

Photo by John Nuttall. Edited by Joe Bunting.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Alisha Knight

    Loved this post!  Number three was brilliant, and so true.  Thank you.  Excited to see what happens in my fifteen minute practice.  Thank you for this fabulous list of motivating tid bits.

    • Joe Bunting

      THANKS Alisha!

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Alisha.

      Happy writing!

  2. ee

    I can relate to your quote.  I am meant to write.  I remember the feeling of a new notebook and pen at the beginning of the school year.  My pen would shake for want of filling that page.  Writing is the way I work things out in my head.  It does not have to be for anyone but me.

     I often put off writing because it is like dessert.  I have to do all of these other things first before I am allowed to do what I really want.  I really want dessert and don’t really care about dinner.  It’s just a means to get the dessert.

    • Diana_shofler

      Hello Joe,
      “I write because I am meant to. I write because it makes me feel alive,” is the best quote I have ever read, heard. I can relate 100%. If I write, I feel relaxed and alive. If not, the stress of everyday can kill a person.
      Happy writing and be well.

    • Yvette Carol

      Ha ha, that dessert analogy is the greatest

  3. Luke Brown

    Thanks for the intro to Duotrope. Looks very helpful.

  4. Pamela J Williamson

    Just bought my copy, Joe, and I look forward to diving into it this afternoon. Thank you for your great posts and encouragement!

  5. Mariaanne

    CONGRATULATIONS on your book’s success Joe!!!  I knew you could do it.  I’m so happy.  

    I am also happy to see that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t get a book out until she was in her sixties, and I like reasons #5 (what a great way to say that.  I don’t think I’ve heard that reason before and it is one of the most important), #16 (I have my mother’s travel diary and I read it almost every day  and wish she had written more), #15 I love this one .  I was balanced for too many years and I know people my age who weren’t. I think balance is overrated and almost impossible to achieve anyway – drama is where it’s at).

  6. Beck Gambill

    Joe! I love this list. My favorite is – because balance is over rated! A little bit of crazy goes a long way! 

    I’m so glad for your success with the book. It’s a good book, so helpful and practical with humor in just the right places. But I think more than being a good book it’s the person behind the book that has made it a success. 

    I’ve been thinking about that lately. Do we write better things if we’re better people? And do people want to read what we write when we exude certain qualities. My mom used to tell us to be the kind of person people would want to be with when we whined that we didn’t have friends. People don’t like being friends with rude, critical, lazy bums. I think that might apply to writing as well. People enjoy reading what a great person has written, they’re also happy to pass the word on and support someone they genuinely like. So congratulations on your book’s success, but also congratulations on having successfully built a network of friends that genuinely like you because you yourself are a good friend!

    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Beck,

      THANK you. You’re so encouraging. And you raise such an interesting question:

      Are great writers great people?

      I’m not sure I have the right answer. Anyone want to take a shot at it? I suppose it depends on what you mean by great. Writers have historically been a fairly dysfunctional lot (speaking of Virginia Woolf). There aren’t many great writers I can think of who lived healthy lives. Stephen King, ironically, is probably the most normal. I suppose that doesn’t mean they weren’t great people. However, I don’t want to live like most of them.

    • Robert

      It’s a great question Beck … “Do we write better things if we’re better people.”  

      It occurs to me the world has come to a point where social media and the response of some of the greats (authors) to the masses have given us this idea that we know them — the greats of our time.  And because of the fact that there are so many ‘published authors’ it’s not hard to imagine oneself among the greats because of the commonality of becoming published (one has finally arrived) (become an author on some level) … 

      I’d say for me it’s always been about the material — not the person holding the pen … 

      This crazy world we’ve become still hasn’t opened the wizards’s curtain I dare say … 

      For me I could care less if Joe is a great person … (Speaking only for myself) 

      I mean is there real proof Joe has a farmer’s tan … ???

    • Beck Gambill

      I wonder how easy it is to separate the material from the person holding the pen. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s naive of me to think that what comes out on the page is a reflection of the heart. I don’t particularly mind being naive and that’s probably my operational assumption at the moment, that great people write great things. I’m willing to be wrong though. 

      As far as if Joe is a great person, I care. I don’t embrace relativism and I believe that characteristics such as generosity, integrity, and compassion are better than the characteristics of selfishness, callousness, or greed. I think this website is more than just a writing blog because Joe’s personality and beliefs have shaped it. I’ve stuck with practicing here because of Joe, and many other people, who have made this a positive place to be. There are other communities on the web I haven’t stuck with or promoted because the atmosphere didn’t have the same feeling of generosity and good will.

      Anyhow, just my two cents worth!  And as for Joe’s farmer’s tan, somethings should remain a mystery. 🙂

    • Mariaanne

      This is very well put Beck.  I admired you so much months back when Joe had a kind of heckler on here and you wrote that this is a site where we encourage and respect each other.  He really made me mad with his remark but when I read yours I saw that my attitude was not the best.  You encouraged him/her (can’t remember) to write with us and they didn’t but I thought that your good heart showed very clearly that day.  Thanks

    • Yvette Carol

      Beck, well put 🙂 You can’t manufacture goodwill. People are way too smart for that. And as for your naivete, don’t lose it, whatever you do!

    • Robert

      Beck … maybe I should clear up a thing or two … my comment about Joe wasn’t meant to be mean or anything less than a compliment — my comments were derived from your comment “do we write better things if we are better people.”  And I gave my opinion … that’s all … 

      The last thing I do when I look for a good read is to research the author to find out what kind of person they are — I love Bradbury, Matheson, Homer … C.S. Lewis … Steinbeck, Zafon, Crighton … the list goes on … 

      If I took he time to research the personal lives of an author I might find myself limited to just a few books to choose from … 

      This site definitely has it’s qualities shaped by the owners and I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve spent here … furthermore, I’m no heckler and do not appreciate the reference from Marianne …

    • Yvette Carol

      And yet, on the other hand, I do care less if he’s a good person. In fact, I feel that it ‘s directly because of who Joe is at core, that his words shine. I also tune in because Joe has worked at his craft and gained a sure hand with what he does. That goes without saying. It’s the subtler energy behind those words though, that we pick up as sincerity, as genuine, as authentic

    • Beck Gambill

      I’m replying here to your latest comment because apparently I can’t reply directly to the new one. I didn’t think you were being mean to Joe at all. I was just processing some thoughts on writing and what makes a great writer. I don’t have a problem with you voicing your opinion in the least. And I certainly didn’t mean to express mine in a disrespectful manner. I think a healthy dialogue is stretching and beneficial. 

      I don’t research an author before I read their work either but I definitely find myself leaning toward particular styles of writing and avoiding certain styles and themes. Also if I know an author has a lifestyle or platform that is unappealing to me I tend not to read their works. Although I will say I have started reading a little more outside of my box in an effort to broaden my perspective and ability. The more I delve into the process of writing and the writing world the more I find myself being stretched and challenged!

      So I think, based on our comments, we’re coming from slightly different perspectives and angles in our preferences and habits is all.
      I don’t think Mariaane meant to offend you and I don’t think she was particularly referencing your comment, I hope not. I took her comment to be directly related to my comments on being naive or my view points on a person’s character affecting (or is it effecting) their writing. I don’t think in any way you were heckling me or your comments can be likened to the rude ones she was referencing. 

      Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed reading your work and interacting over the past weeks. I hope we’re still on good terms!

    • Joe Bunting

      You are better blog readers than I deserve. Thank you for making this such a supportive, fun place to write.

      Also, yes, I do have a farmers tan. Sorry to ruin the mystery, Beck 😉

    • Beck Gambill

      There have certainly been plenty of messed up and troubled souls who have written, and written well. Perhaps the word great is the measurement. What do we mean by great? Maybe great writers don’t necessarily lead great lives, maybe they think great thoughts. Or maybe they are great observers of life. I don’t know either really.

      I do know there have been valuable things written by amazing men and women. C.S. Lewis, Dickens, Charlotte Bronte. They were brilliant people commenting on their society and effecting change. I want to be that kind of writer. One that lives well, loves deeply, thinks boldly and as a result writes well.

      I don’t know that it would be wise to generalize, but I would venture to say character matters and shapes all we do. Certainly thought provoking and powerful things have been written by people who are not truly good. For myself I have a hard time separating the heart from the word. I also think that not everything written that is profound is necessarily good. Of course that’s my opinion but not everything that has won an award, is critically acclaimed, or thought provoking is actually great. 

      I could be off base, it’s just something I’ve been pondering. For myself I find that my writing is better, richer, more poignant when my heart is connected to the Source of Truth, when I’ve loved my family and even enemies well, when I’ve sought out beauty. I need to ponder that a bit more I suppose. It may be as simple as taste.  

    • Mariaanne

      I think just the way you want to get to the truth and use God as your source will see you though Beck.  I do think though that “living well” can interfere with “thinking deeply” because when living well limits your experience it limits what you can think about and then write about.  I have that problem related to travel. I don’t like to travel and I know that no matter how much I read about other cultures it is a watered down version of the actual experience.  

    • Beck Gambill

      Thanks for your encouragement Mariaane. That’s an interesting thought, that living well can interfere with thinking deeply. I get what you’re saying. But I wonder if we can still live well while experiencing the depths of life and thought in other ways. I have befriended my neighbor who is in every way my opposite. As stable and healthy as my life is hers is as unstable and volatile, even dangerous.  My time with her has certainly exposed me to a perspective and emotion I had never experienced before. I’m interested to see what my time in a Serbian mental institution will produce as well. All that’s to say I wonder if there are things we can never write well about without experiencing or if we can come in the back door so to speak. Hmmm, I’m doing a lot of pondering lately!

    • Yvette Carol

      Yes. The older I get, the more life batters me down and I get back up and forge on, the better my writing becomes

    • Yvette Carol

      I think you raise an interesting point. My view? Yes, we do write better books if we’re better people. I remember a writing teacher once, saying to work on ourselves, not just our writing, because in the written word the person behind it will always shine through

  7. Thomas Mason

    Wow, this is a great list of reasons to write. I think they’re all good, but I particularly liked reasons #5, #11 and #14!  Good stuff, Joe. You’ve inspired me to consider purchasing the book AND to write!

  8. Pilar Arsenec

    Joe, do you need to have a college education and a masters degree in English to become a great writer? I mean, nowadays, everyone says they are a writer, but are they? I’m struggling with this whole concept. What makes a writer great?

    • Mariaanne

      I think the only way to answer that question is to first realize it isn’t answerable and second read, write, be edited, and either rejected or accepted and then ask again.  This is a great forum to write and see what others think and then try again. 

    • Pilar Arsenec

      Well thanks Marianne, that’s an honest response… “it isn’t answerable.” Which means, I would have to question why writing teachers will tell you to begin with an admission, “I am a writer.”  I also would have to question, the multitude of great writers who were rejected hundreds of times before they were accepted.  Being rejected and turned down could be a sign they aren’t good or they are great.  Take the author of “The Help”, how many times was her story rejected?  So how can a simple “I am a writer” really be the same as being a great one? It’s like saying, I am a chef (I am not, but my father is)… I have known people who have said they are a chef and quite honestly, their cooking was awful, not just to me but many people. So a simple, I am a writer or I am a chef, doesn’t always equate that you are one or that you are even good in the first place. Anyway, thanks for listening.

    • Mhvest

      I think that had a lot to do with both taste regarding what is “art” or what is “good” and whether you define yourself or allow others to define you. And when you modify “writer” with “published” you add an element of luck to the mix. Jacob Apel over at Gotham Writer’s Workshop writes about a story he submitted to numerous publications and then he entered it in a contest and it was published. The clincher was he had submitted exactly the same story to the same magazine that published it (Boston Review or Boston Quarterly? I think) and had it rejected by them.

    • Pilar

      Hmm interesting. We’re on to something here. Ok. If you don’t mind, I would like to ask another question. Do writers write for themselves or others? What makes one author popular? Do you how there are writers that appeal to a greater mass than others? What makes Tolstoy a great writer who appeals to a larger audience? Or Hemingway or Faulkner. Granted some people do not like these authors. However, the majority agree that these are great writers/authors.

    • Joe Bunting

      Certainly not. 

      I can’t think of many things I learned about writing in college that I couldn’t have learned from a good book on writing or maybe even a blog on writing. 

      What college and an MFA gives is time to write, feedback, and intellectual community. For the first two, you don’t need to go to college to get them. However, it’s probably a little easier to do them there because you HAVE to. The last reason, intellectual community, is easily overlooked, but just as important. All great artists have their little groups of fellow geniuses. Mary Shelley wouldn’t have written Frankenstein without PB Shelley and Byron. 

      So no, but it can help.

    • Pilar Arsenec

      What books did you read that helped you as a writer when you were first starting out?

  9. Mariaanne

    Here’s my “something now”. I think it’s probably a case of too much at once not well fermented but I kind of like it.  It’s stewed mind.  

    What to take? What to give? From the Peanut Gallery  where I sit. 

    A morsel for large elephants, a treat.

    A bag full, will drown the elephant embryo having so many more molecules to suck it up. Draw one.  Too much too soon.  

    Consume, grab, eat, inhale

    Breath out, excrete, set free, sell

    Ba Ba Black sheep who is it for?

    The editor speaks – And what will they do with it, that’s what worries me, us, you.  That’s what the talk is about.  What will they do with it.  What will they say.  Will they buy it? Why not, if it’s the truth.  Because it might not be the truth. Are you sure.  

    The truth is in a drawer where it has been saved for later.  

    Why save it. Show it to them.  They will either step on it or pick it up like a precious little peanut, an embryo.

    Coal to diamond


    Dust thou art man, and to dust  . . . – Book of common prayer, and they toss the dirt on the coffin when they say it and I can’t forget their hugs their voices but I have to leave some of them for the rest, for my daughter for my kin, my ken.  

    Dust to coal to diamond to soul.  

    Today I read Longfellow – A Song of Life
    Read – Emily Dickinson – Hope 
    Listened to Patti Smith’s – Pissing in a River 
    Read the preface to the first chapter of Virginia Woolf’s “Waves”  
    Listened to the song Tobacco Road
    Fed the cats, washed the dishes, drew Iggy Pop and and elephant embryo.

    • Alisha Knight

      This was fascinating!  When I was a kid I used to think mind reading would be the greatest of all super powers… and now I’m realizing what I would have seen had I been given that gift.  The wild wondering of a mind freed… thank you for sharing.

    • Mariaanne

      Thank you Alisha!  Sometimes I think it wanders a bit far but I’m not senile yet ; ) I loved yours.  It just made me happy despite the part about the tears.  I could feel the joy of life in it.  

    • John Fisher

      “The truth is in a drawer where it has been saved for later.

      Why save it.  Show it to them.  They will either step on it or pick it up like a precious little peanut, an embryo.”

      What a great description of the struggle between the desire to write, to express, and the fear — perhaps to be ignored is like having one’s truth stepped on.  But for someone to pick it up — to identify — that’s what it’s all about.

      I really like Emily Dickinson too and if Hope is the one I’m thinking it is, about the caged bird, it’s one of her greatest.

    • Mariaanne

      Thank you John. That’s what it’s about, the fear of people either ignoring or bashing my writing.  The Dickinson poem is about a bird but the caged bird.  The part I like goes 
      Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soulAnd sings the tune without wordsAnd never stops at all – Emily DickinsonI used to have it on a bookmark and had forgotten it until I was looking at some of her writing today.  She was a really amazing woman.  

    • Beck Gambill

      That was fun Mariaane! I liked the flow of consciousness. It sounded like you were having fun with words while also touching on some serious subjects. Longfellow and Dickinson are my favorites and I especially like those two poems. Can you believe I’ve never read Virginia Woolf. I think she should be on my next library list!

    • Mariaanne

      Virginia Woolf is probably the author I read the most.   I think he best book is “The Waves” but my friend who is an English Prof says it’s the most difficult.  “Mrs. Dalloway” is similar but not as abstract.  I just got a book of her short stories and am going to try that.  

    • Joe Bunting

      I smiled and laughed, Marianne. This moment was my favorite:

      Breath out, excrete, set free, sell
      Ba Ba Black sheep who is it for?

      So much fun.

    • Mariaanne

      Thanks Joe!

    • Mirelba

       Wow!  Your free form sounds great.  My favorite lines: 
      Consume, grab, eat, inhale

      Breath out, excrete, set free, sell

      Ba Ba Black sheep who is it for?

      and also:
      The truth is in a drawer where it has been saved for later. 

      BTW, what I read today is “The Tiger’s Wife”  by Tea Obreht.  First of all the books I read this month that I really enjoyed.  Great writing, and much to think about.  Also, I’ve been thinking of tenses in writing, and she employs present, past and even future, and it works very well!

    • Mariaanne

      Thanks Mirelba.  I have had several people tell me about “The Tiger’s Wife”.  I’ll read it next. 

    • Oddznns

      HI Marianne. This doesn’t sound like the usual you… but you know what… it sounds like this IS you. I love all the blithe throwaways …

      Consume, grab, eat, inhale
      Breath out, excrete, set free, sell
      Ba Ba Black sheep who is it for?”

      Who IS it for if not your readers, yourself, and to open our hearts a little more, set free ourselves a teeny bit.

    • Mariaanne

      Thank you very much. I was feeling very energized when i wrote that. I’m thinking about trying my hand at poetry. I even ordered a book on how to write poetry (as well as one on how to use wordpress – I’m sorry that site is not working better – do you have a website?)

    • Yvette Carol

      I like! The truth is in a drawer where it’s been saved for later — genius!

    • Mariaanne

      Thank you Yvette Carol.  

  10. Alisha Knight

    What a fun exercise that was.  Not sure this passage will make it into my novel… but had a great time rambling it into existence. 

    We imagine bluebirds deep in beautiful tango and the birds appear, streaks of blue in the sky that is also blue but a lighter, softer shade.  Shouldn’t tears be blue?  I think they should, but they aren’t, their clear and salty.  They would taste delicious in soup.  Maybe that’s why God made onions the way he did, to season the soup, to give the bread something salty to dip into.  I’ve forgotten how to cry and I’ve never cried into soup.  Do bluebirds cry?  Or do they just fly and inspire songs about happiness?  A weepy bluebird, in a blue sky on a blue day crying puddles into soup bowls… now that would be something to write a song about.  People would play it at funerals and weddings and sing it to their sleeping babies and the soup would never taste as delicious as it did the day the bluebirds flew across the sky.

    • Mariaanne

      The last two lines of that are wonderful. The juxtaposition of a bluebird in a blue sky, a symbol of happiness against salty tear soup and the wedding and funerals is good.  When you free write like that you see what you themes are, or at least I do. 

    • Alisha Knight

       It’s fun to just write and see what comes out of it. I spent the first five minutes of my 15 min staring at my computer.  Then I grabbed a pen and this poured out.  I have always found it easier to free write with a pen than a keyboard. 

    • Ee

      I really like this. Onions and tears – excellent seasoning

    • Alisha Knight


    • Themagicviolinist

       I loved this one. Very poetic. My friend would love this, too. Her favorite color is blue. Nice job! 😀
      My only problem is this line: I think they should, but they aren’t, their clear and salty.
      It should be “THEY’RE clear and salty.” Sorry, I’m a bit picky when it comes to grammar. 😉

    • Alisha Knight

       Thank you and I appreciate the typo catch.  Those their/there/they’re’s drive me crazy!

    • Themagicviolinist

       Oh, good! Sometimes I get the feeling that I drive people crazy when I catch those things and tell them. XD

    • Alisha Knight

       Not me.  I genuinely appreciate feedback that makes my piece better.  No one takes the time to give feedback on something they don’t like.. at least not on this site. 

  11. John Fisher

    I spent an informative hour this morning reading that old eighteen-sixty-something book by that lady on The Way of Holiness, a book considered seminal in the personal holiness movement of the late nineteenth century, trying to better understand my paternal grandmother, who really was a spirit out of that period.  One of my earliest memories is of her holding forth on her views:  women need to be covered from throat to ankles, television is of the devil, as are card games, any music other than “sacred”, interstate highways, and anything else that might have been considered fun, to my boyish way of thinking.  I made up my mind early on, to go just about as far in the opposite direction as I possibly could, and that’s not always been wise, it’s sometimes been, shall we say problematic, even painful in its consequences.  But I’ve made my own choices, and that’s contrary to the early impression I had from my elders that I had no choice. 

    My grandpa was quieter than she, with a twinkle in his blue eyes that suggested he knew more than he was saying.  Only decades later did I learn of some of their real-life issues, and realize that they were just doing the best they could, like most of us. 

    I want my e-mail back!  Frustrating that I haven’t found the solution yet.  This will school me in patience. 

    Joe wrote that will-power is an expendable resource, and I’ve certainly found that to be true.  I stayed off alcohol and drugs for fifteen years in a 12-step program, but with clenched teeth the whole time.  I think my wife was my higher power- – I knew she wouldn’t put up with a non- sober husband.  When she was no longer here it was ON, baby.  And at the end of that jag, I was more disheartened and depleted than I’d ever been.

    I’ve found a new method of recovery that makes more sense to me.  But I don’t knock 12-step because I know it’s helped a lot of people.  I did run into some individuals in those programs who were dogmatic and severe to a fault, bu that just taught me to set boundaries, develop a thicker skin, and like the Kenny Rogers song says, “Walk away from trouble when you can”.   

    • Mariaanne

      I used to teach a course to people in VA who had been convicted of DUIs and were court referred.  If they didn’t go to class sober (I had to test each one each night) they went to jail.  And the first thing we had to teach was that there were many ways to remain sober (mostly 12 step and “controlled drinking”).   They were  some of the most interesting people whom I’ve ever met, some so stubborn that they were sure to get into trouble again, but most very thoughtful about their situation.  I think they had been up against a wall so many times that they knew the “wall” (and all it’s ins and outs, promises and fails) intimately and  then some.  I think it’s the same with writing or any art as far as following rules go.  Some can break the “rules” and get away with it, some cannot.  But the people who are the worst off are the ones who have to make more and more rules (create more and more dogma) to help convince them that they are on the right path.  Well to each his own.

    • John Fisher

      I’ll bet they were an interesting group of people! I found a similar variety among the people I was in treatment with years ago.  I bet if I could see those folks now, I’d be pleasantly surprised in some cases and saddened in others.

      The program I’m following now is based on rational emotive behavioral therapy.  It holds that addictive behaviors do not constitute a “disease” but are rather bad habits that can be changed IF the individual is willing to take resposibility for changing his/her thinking.  It has shown me that I’m not powerless; I always have a choice; and I am responsible.

      But as you say, I agree – to each his own.

    • Mariaanne

      RET is the best I think.   

    • Yvette Carol

      My goodness, Marianne, what a rich and varied life you’ve led!

    • Yvette Carol

      Love the recounting of your grandmother. She sounds feisty! Fodder for a story, mayhaps?

  12. Chihuahua Zero

    Wow! Just from seeing the “orange” links in this post, I get a great idea about how much advice I’m yet to get from this blog. If I did include Friday posts in my weekly round-ups, this would be on it.

    Point #5 is probably the strongest point. We have more room for stories, because they’re still people who need them.

  13. Sherrey Meyer

    First, Joe, I love the list of 17!  I kept finding myself in there far too often.  And now here goes, my best 15 on why I write.  I think I’ve told you before, but I’ll share it again.

    Why do I write? I write because I can’t not write.  I have to write.  It is within me to share my stories, to fictionalize stories, to share something with others, to spend my time with words, one of my favorite things.

    When I’m writing, I’m able to transport myself, and hopefully others eventually, to another time and place.  That is, as Joe says, very relaxing.  It soothes me, it moves me, it hopefully accomplishes publication one of these days.  Or maybe writing will win me a contest and I’ll win enough money to publish.

    I’ve always loved words.  My dad was a printer/publisher so I jokingly say I was born with ink running through my veins.  Some days I literally believe it.  If I’m not writing, I’m reading about writing or working on my blog, or my memoir, or a short piece of memoir, or a story or two.  Like books I can’t work on just one thing.  If I’m reading, it has to be two, three, four or more books I’ve got going at once.

    So, I guess bottom line is I really do love words — writing or reading!

    Addendum:  I’ve been published!  Yes, I’m one of 14 contributors to an anthology compiled by Jonna Ivins, author of Will Love for Crumbs.  The title of the anthology is Loving for Crumbs: An Anthology and is available on Amazon in eboook format.  Print format out within two to three weeks.  So exciting!

    • Mariaanne

      Congratulations Sherrey!  I’ll check it out. 

    • Sherrey Meyer

       Thanks, Mariaanne!

    • Yvette Carol

      Yay, Sherrey, congratulations!

    • Sherrey Meyer

       Thanks, Yvette Carol!

  14. Antonia

    This is my free writing. Free writing is fun.

    Hmmm. Free writing. I like this idea. Now I just need to
    find something to write about. Thinking. Thinking. I lost the game. Jeremy. I
    like that name. No idea why.

    What’s going on around me? I’ve been taking the cast on and
    off my recently fixed broken arm. I broke it skiing. My Mum, Dad and four
    little brothers are all skiing this weekend but I can’t. Maybe it’s that my
    boarding school won’t let me go out this weekend. It’s probably the broken arm

    Skiing. I like skiing. Skiing is fun. Especially going fast.
    I was going fast when I broke my arm. That’s probably why I didn’t see the half
    metre drop. I got to ride down in a banana boat. Mum calls it a bloodbath,
    which is comforting, but the proper name is acia I think. That’s not how you
    spell it. I’ve got no idea how to spell it, and word check isn’t helping. That’s
    how it sounds though.

    Going down the mountain in the banana boat was fun. It was
    really comfortable, which was surprising. I had two friends with me and neither
    took photos. Very frustrating, though to be entirely fair I didn’t think of
    telling them to. To be even more fair, I had a broken arm.

    This is the first time I’ve broken a bone. Probably. I may
    have broken my tailbone once. It might have just been bruised.

    All my brothers have broken bones.

    James broke his leg on the trampoline and his finger when
    someone rolled a rock into it.

    Edward broke his thumb skiing a couple of seasons ago.

    Harry broke his wrist falling off the monkey bars.

    Jack broke his leg running into a car. Yes. That’s right. He
    ran into the car. The car definitely didn’t run into him.

    Let’s see. New train of thought. Reading is fun. What am I
    reading? The Scarecrow series by Matthew Reilly for a start. But all my friends
    and my Dad keep adding books to my reading list. I can’t remember the last time
    I added a book to my own reading list. “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the
    Galaxy” I think.

    Skulduggery Pleasant is my favourite series at the moment,
    and probably for a while yet. I lost the game again. Skulduggery Pleasant my
    aimed at ten-year-olds, and I may be fifteen, but whatever. I like it. It’s
    really funny. Especially the scene about tranquilising small elephants in the
    seventh book. I read it to Mum while she was driving. She was drinking water,
    and then she started laughing, and then she started choking. Skulduggery
    Pleasant is dangerously funny.

    What time is it? I think my fifteen minutes is up. I may
    have forgotten to start a timer, but my broken arm aches from typing so I’m
    stopping now. This was fun.

    • Alisha Knight

      HA!!  So fun and amusing!  Free writing is a blast.  And it’s fun to read others minds ramblings.

      This line made me laugh out loud and nearly spit my tea out my nose….

      “Mum calls it a bloodbath, which is comforting, but the proper name is acia I think. That’s not how you spell it. I’ve got no idea how to spell it, and word check isn’t helping. That’s how it sounds though.”

      Good stuff!  I constantly run into brilliant words I say but have no idea how to spell.  Like skillywampus.. how the heck do you spell that???

    • Antonia

      Thanks! I love just writing down whatever comes into my head.

      I agree about spelling. What’s the point of word check when it can’t help you spell words like skillywampus? I have no idea how to spell that either.

    • Mirelba

       Nice ramble.  I also liked the bit about Jack.  And wish you better with your arm!

    • Antonia

      Thanks. It’s pretty much better now. It just needs to remember how to move.

    • Mirelba

       What IS a skillywampus?

    • Yvette Carol

      That’s what I was going to say

    • Alisha Knight

       You know.. not straight, not crooked, not zigzag even but completely skillywampus!!  All over the place!

    • Themagicviolinist

       Free writing is fun. 🙂
      This made me laugh:
      Jack broke his leg running into a car. Yes. That’s right. He
      ran into the car. The car definitely didn’t run into him.
      😀 Nice job!

    • Antonia

      It’s true. The car was just going along slowly, and Jack came pelting onto the road and ran into it. He’s a bit more careful crossing that particular one lane street now.

    • Themagicviolinist

       That’s hilarious!

    • Mariaanne

      Bravo for doing so much with a broken arm.  I hope you keep writing when you feel better.  

    • Antonia

      Definitely. Writing is fun. My arm is pretty good now, and hopefully it will start working properly soon.

  15. Alisha Knight

    typo.. I accidentally wrote a comment in the wrong place and it won’t let me delete it.

  16. Beck Gambill

    I shoved my fingers down into dark, warm soil. Wiggled them around and felt the life. Yanking on weeds I fought and reclaimed land for planting. Pumpkins, big and orange, were filling my mind when a fat body hopped, plop, in front of me. Stifling  a little squeal, it quick became a chuckle as I leaned down to examine the fine fellow I had startled.

    His bulgy, toady eyes blinked at me. Stretching out a finger I stroked his plump body painted a clever brown camouflage. He eyed me suspiciously and wiggled down into the dirt. Maybe he hoped to blend in so the lady with the big grin, standing too close, would go away.

    Hip, hop, plop, blup went his squidgy, muddy feet through the garden soil. He had had enough of my curiosity. I set my jaw to liberating the rectangle of earth from invading weeds. Toad found a happy spot under a nearby rosemary bush to make himself a hole. Nestling down the sides of his big belly flopped over his back feet and he snuggled contentedly in the loam. 

    Working steadily, sun beating down on my brow, crick in my back, I kept one eye on my new friend. Laughter rang out and, “Mommy!” pulling me away from my chore. Children and friend mingled. Four little pairs of hands and four sets of eyes circled up to see the plump little treasure. “Ooh, aahh, he’s so cute,” exclaimed four sets of voices admiring his lovely skin.

    “Isn’t  God clever to make such a wonderful creature?” I teach. “Yes he is.” Off they scamper in every direction, like puppy’s frolicking and tumbling. Back to work. As the sun gets sleepy I finish my assault on the weed invasion. A  plot of freshly turned dark soil stretches before me, fresh, ready to bear new life. A few remaining herbs stand at attention keeping watch. And my fat little friend sleeps tucked in a blanket of dirt.

    • Themagicviolinist

       I like the “hip, hop, plop, blup.” Nice use of onomatopoeia. 😀

    • Beck Gambill

      Thanks Magic, I love onomatopoeia. I’ve loved playing with the sound of words and in description since I was your age. One day my family tried to talk in onomatopoeia, that was fun! 

    • Themagicviolinist

       Talking in onomatopoeia? THAT sounds interesting! I’ll have to tell my mom and dad about that. 😉

    • Mariaanne

      That really had me feeling like I was working in the garden.  You put in just the right amount of details for my taste and I loved “A plot of freshly turned dark soil stretches before me, fresh, ready to bear new life” It makes me want to weed a flowerbed (maybe 😉 )

    • Beck Gambill

      I have to be in just the right mood to work in the garden, or weed! It was the perfect day for it, sunny, cool breeze, delicious scent in the air. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece, maybe you could just vicariously weed through reading and put yours off for another day!

    • Zoe Beech

      Your gardening pieces really make me feel I’m right there with you!  Very evocative. Great visuals, and I love the fun and playfulness of this piece.

    • Beck Gambill

      Thanks Zoe! I had fun writing about my day, it was lovely to live and re-live!

  17. Zoe Beech

    Beautiful girls in tight skirts, jeggings and black mascara mutter their insecurities as they get changed.  The girl next to me says she only wears grey but the bride to be says she’s the bride and she’ll decide, and the red belt looks good on her waist.  But the grey girl looks at the mirror at her hips and her eyes see them bursting at the seams.  We go outside and in the warm night air she says she feels naked without her jacket.Inside the pub the music’s already offering us magic. When the when the music starts to play, and us dancing girls are entranced.   Big clocks telling the time, and it’s close to Pumpkin hour, but the girls are just swaying to the music, and the boys smile at each other and sip down their beer, silenced since the girls burst into the crammed little pub. The man on the piano is singing to a milllion people, although it’s just all forty of us, and some clap after he shares his heart while the rest talk over the noise.  The bride to be is elegant in spite of the fishnets and the boots and her red lips show the whiteness of her soul.  Big blue eyes watching her fiance’s smile which is only for her, and they know that they are the only two in the room.  A bunch come in who sway as they look at us, and smile because we are all a haze, and as each stumbles down the stairs their hands grab the pole for support.  The girl who has a leopard print flower in her hair and uses a pencil case as a handbag misses Twitter because the reception is bad.   Macy Grey’s singing  ‘I thought I’d see you again’ and I think of my first kiss who was not only lousy but a runaway too and I start to laugh.  Never trust Backstreet Boys, I think as I remember his spiked hair and fast talk. We leave the London pub, where Sunday Roasts are R59-00, and go to Amsterdam, where people spill out into the streets.  I look at the grey girl. She has five guys just smiling at her every word, and I hope to goodness she’s not still worrying if she looks big.   In Amsterdam  there’s a  blonde Elvis from the 90’s and he’s leaning towards the crowd and his face is squashed in concentration and his guitar is his weapon and his gift.  People mingle around the tables and my husband puts his arm firmly around me.  A black woman shoots wild west style with her fingers at a white boy in a big grin and a cowboy hat and and they stand in mutual admiration for each other.  And I smile, a grateful spectator in a moment of holiness.

  18. Zoe Beech

    Ug, wrong formatting – hope this works.

    Beautiful girls in tight skirts, jeggings and black mascara mutter their insecurities as they get changed.  The girl next to me says she only wears grey but the bride to be says she’s the bride and she’ll decide, and the red belt looks good on her waist.  But the grey girl looks at the mirror at her hips and her eyes see them bursting at the seams.  

    We go outside and in the warm night air she says she feels naked without her jacket.

    Inside the pub the music’s already offering us magic. When the when the music starts to play, and us dancing girls are entranced.   Big clocks telling the time, and it’s close to Pumpkin hour, but the girls are just swaying to the music, and the boys smile at each other and sip down their beer, silenced since the girls burst into the crammed little pub. 

    Eyebrows raised across the table, and the boys who’ve become shy watch men walk up and down hilly green courses, just trying to hit a ball, and the world watches with them right now in Indonesia, and America, and they have people running after them because they can swing just right.

    The man on the piano is singing to a milllion people, although it’s just all forty of us, and some clap after he shares his heart while the rest talk over the noise.  The bride to be is elegant in spite of the fishnets and the boots and her red lips show the whiteness of her soul.  Big blue eyes watching her fiance’s smile which is only for her, and they know that they are the only two in the room.  

    A bunch come in who sway as they look at us, and smile because we are all a haze, and as each stumbles down the stairs their hands grab the pole for support.  The girl who has a leopard print flower in her hair and uses a pencil case as a handbag misses Twitter because the reception is bad.  

     Macy Grey’s singing  ‘I thought I’d see you again’ and I think of my first kiss who was not only lousy but a runaway too and I start to laugh.  Never trust Backstreet Boys, I think as I remember his spiked hair and fast talk.

     We leave the London pub, where Sunday Roasts are R59-00, and go to Amsterdam, where people spill out into the streets.  I look at the grey girl. She has five guys just smiling at her every word, and I hope to goodness she’s not still worrying if she looks big.  

     In Amsterdam  there’s a  blonde Elvis from the 90’s and he’s leaning towards the crowd and his face is squashed in concentration and his guitar is his weapon and his gift.  People mingle around the tables and my husband puts his hands firmly around me.  A black woman shoots wild west style with her fingers at a white boy in a big grin and a cowboy hat and and they stand in mutual admiration for each other.  And I smile, a grateful spectator in a moment of holiness.

    • Mariaanne

      That was great Zoe.  You really get the feeling of nightclubs and young people partying.  i love the clothes descriptions here and I usually don’t but this is an example of the way the people are dressed saying something about what they are like I think. Did you do that intentionally.  Is the gray girl for instance supposed to be insecure, sort of a wallflower?

    • Zoe Beech

      Thanks Mariaane!  I meant to comment and say I LOVED your free write, and that inspired me just to go with the flow…  ‘dust to coal to diamond to soul’ – that alone right there… WOW!  Ja, I think the clothes thing came up so much – as it does in partying!! – and it felt like that spoke a lot about the characters, and how they want to be perceived.

  19. Oddznns

    I saw the Amazon rankings. Well done. Writing… yes, writing. And submitting.  We know why we write. Question is … why do people read? I’m doing some research for a new novel and I’ve just been reading the most depressing, angsty, victimish stuff. It gives me an insight into what a particular character in my novel might feel like. But puh-leeze…  Apparently, best sellers are best sellers because they allow people to learn something, to hope they can become something larger after they’ve read. I think that’s why Let’s Write a Short Story’s doing so well. And it’s something for us to remember as we write to. Even if our stories are about flawed lives and flawed characters, there has to be something in there that’s not just hopeless hopeless hopeless.

    • Mariaanne

      I agree, sometime even just a little humor can help.  

    • Zoe Beech

      Completely agree.  Finding beautifully crafted books AND movies is so hard if you’re not looking for melancholy.  It’s a constant quest of mine to find joyful art (and again, I don’t want plastic or the Brady bunch, I just want real life.  Because life is definitely a kaleidescope of emotions.

    • Joe Bunting

      Midnight Children is very funny, but it’s still painful, dark, hard. Do you think you can have joy without pain?

    • Zoe Beech

      Ja, good point – and it’s something I’ve been thinking on a lot lately…  I think joy is possible without pain – but I think that it’s that much sweeter after pain.  Pain teaches you to embrace life and seek joy – or let me say, it can!

    • Oddznns

      I’m okay with pain. It’s maudling that’s getting me down.

    • Zoe Beech

      Ah yes – in the literature point too – we def. need pain/problems to overcome them… But for me, it’s the hopelessness and despair that I struggle with in the majority of great art nowadays. Briefly tone vs subject matter.

    • Antonia

      I don’t like reading about hopelessness and despair. I don’t mind pain. I understand that it’s necessary, and you couldn’t have a really good story without pain. I really like books with humour in them, even just a bit of humour. I’m easily amused, which is probably why I enjoy the Skulduggery Pleasant series so much, even if it’s aimed at a younger audience. If there’s humour I find that the pain doesn’t get me down so much.
      Example from Skulduggery Pleasant. Baron Vengeous is the bad guy.
      “Are you going to shoot me?” Vengeous sneered. “I wouldn’t be surprised. What would a thing like you know about honour? Only a heathen would bring a gun to a swordfight.”
      “And only a moron would bring a sword to a gunfight.”
      Vengeous scowled. “As you can see,” he said, “you are vastly outnumbered.”
      “I usually am.”
      “Your situation has become quite untenable.”
      “It usually does.”
      “You are within moments of being swarmed by these filthy creatures of Undeath and torn apart in a maelstrom of pain and fury.”
      Skulduggery paused. “OK, that’s a new one on me.”

    • Joe Bunting

      Mmm… that’s interesting. This is a theory, but maybe people are so separated from there emotions today they need a very heavy dose of it in their art. 

      I read something in fast company recently that said true innovation is focusing on how your customers are going to be changed. How true that is for writing! The most innovative authors transformed their readers in new ways, helped them become something new. So who are your readers going to be transformed into when they finish reading your novel, Oddz?

    • Oddznns

      They’re going to see that whatever you’ve done with your life, it’s never too late to forgive and love yourself!

    • Yvette Carol

      Powerful message, Oddznns

  20. Themagicviolinist


              The shrieks of my baby were loud,
    possibly even louder then the police sirens and gunshots.

              I rushed into her room and scooped her
    up. She cried more quietly as I rocked her and sang to her in a shaking voice.

              I closed all of the curtains and
    turned off the lights. I peered around a curtain and through a window. Two men
    carrying guns were trying to escape the police attempting to handcuff them. My
    heart pounded.

              Being a single mother and not having a
    very good job, Cassie and I couldn’t afford to live in a good neighborhood.
    Robberies happened weekly and telephone poles and bulletin boards were covered
    in posters of missing children.

              I was hungry every day and Cassie had
    one toy; her beloved teddy bear. She would have imaginary tea parties with
    plastic cups filled with orange juice.

              “Mama,” she’d say.
    “Come do our tea party with me and Teddy!”

              “Not now,” I’d reply with a
    sad smile. “Mama needs to do the bills.”

              Then I would go into my room and cry
    so Cassie couldn’t see.

              Cassie sniffed into my shoulder and
    wrapped her arms around my neck.

              “Shhh,” I said in a hushed
    voice, bouncing her up and down. “It’s okay. All of the bad noises are

              The two armed men were pushed roughly
    into a police car. I let out a sigh of relief.

              “Do you think you can go back to

              Cassie shook her head no.

              I smiled weakly.

              “What if I sang to you?”

              Cassie nodded.

              I took her back to her room and set
    her down in the second-hand crib.

              “Which song do you want?” I
    asked her, stroking her blonde curls.

              “Sing the happy song!”

              I took a deep breath.

    can hurt you, nothing can scare you, as long as we have each other. Everything
    is a rainbow, everything’s yellow, everything’s happy now. This is the happy
    song, and we’ll be happy all day long, this is the happy song, now go to

    • Mariaanne

      That was different from you usual action fantasy stuff and although I liked the other, I really like this.  It must be horrible to live in fear every day.  

    • Themagicviolinist

       I enjoyed writing something different. I actually wrote this story based on other stories I’ve read about people living in a tough neighborhood.

    • Mariaanne

      It’s very well done.  

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thank you! 😀

    • Zoe Beech

      I love your happy song!  ‘Everything is a rainbow, everything’s yellow’ – my heart leaps when I read that! 

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thank you! 😀

    • Mirelba

       Kudos to Themagicwriter.  Oops, I meant Themagicviolonist.

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thanks! 😀

    • Alisha Knight

       This broke my heart and made me smile at the same time.  Fabulous.  Loved the song at the end… maybe my bluebirds can learn to sing that while they weep into soup bowls.   =)  Wouldn’t that be poetic!!

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thank you! 😀 And yes, that would be very poetic. 😉

    • Yvette Carol

      You are going strong, girl!

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thanks! 😀

    • Antonia

      Wow. This is amazing. I think you captured all the emotions really well. The happy song is great!

    • Themagicviolinist

       Thank you! 😀

  21. Suzie Gallagher

    She couldn’t face church. She couldn’t face all those concerned looks, the sympathy, the empathy, the pity, the “I know how you feel”, the “let me tell you about my pain”. She just could not be amongst people who cared.

    Instead she drove to the lake. 

    Silence isn’t silent at the lake, the waves gently break onto the stones, Choughs and Wood Warblers sing to each other, grasshoppers and crickets make their moves. There is something quieting in the non-silence of the lake.

    Her breathing forms a pattern, first designed thousands and thousands of years before, nature calming human. She cries out to God in the stillness, in the silence of her wrenched heart, she roars her name and the simply monosyllabic question “Why?”

    She sits on a rock staring at the lake, her tears fall silently, splashing onto jeans. The dog appears suddenly, knocking her off the granite perch.

    “Oh, sorry, she’s a bit clumsy, let me help you up, oh you’ve been crying, we have intruded, I’m sorry, we’ll leave you. Oh you’re Sylvie Breakman. I am sorry for your loss. Would you like to talk?”

    The man had appeared as quickly as the dog that she could now see was an over-exuberant chocolate brown Labrador about a year old, still full of puppiness. The guy was talking, she heard very little, sorry something something sorry talk. Did she want to talk? She hadn’t spoken to anyone in five days.

    The funeral had been on Thursday, two days after it was called in the operating theatre. It was called, that was how the insensitive doctor had told them. But maybe she needed that coldness to pierce the absolute stony silence in her heart, as it melted, as she melted into a mushy puddle.

    For twenty one years she had been nursemaid, nurse, maid, food provider, medicine giver, physiotherapist, therapist, speech therapist, taxi, ambulance, so many roles but mostly mother, mostly love giver.

    Her daughter, Elise, was famous locally as the girl who could. The doctors had given her zero chance of a life but Elise and Sylvie played by a different tune, they sang in harmony in life and loved living. 

    Sylvie hadn’t just lost a daughter but had lost her job. It was called. So she sat on a rock grieving instead of being with people and found one guy she could talk to. She even got offered a job that she might consider. First though she must go to church and meet all her friends, all Elise’ friends, all the friends of the family and be comforted, each new day will bring new joy, she knew but still she grieved.

    • Mirelba

       so true.  the desire to run from all those “I know just how you feel”.  Who really knows how anyone else feels?  Didn’t want to be sad tonight, but you got the feeling across.

    • Zoe Beech

       Absolutely beautiful.

  22. Tom Wideman

    I understand perfectionism is a no-no, but just wondering if #3 is supposed to say, “It’s MORE likely to get into Harvard.” 

    • Joe Bunting

      Ha, quite right, Tom. Thanks for making my post perfect. 🙂

  23. Mirelba

    Congrats on the book, Joe.  Friends or not, it’s well deserved.

    Not much good with the free flow, no work of art.  I actually experimented with keyboard and paper and pencil, and it felt different.   Fewer white space/pauses with pencil other than that, do they seem different to you?   The writing was almost nonstop with the pencil, but even so, word count was higher on the computer.


    Writing to write.  Feels
    good, relaxes. Don’t feel like thinking want to flow.  Let my hands go and fly across the page,
    watching the words taking shape, sometimes surprising me.

    It’s hot, hot and sticky. 
    Night time is here things still to do. 
    Tomorrow another day, full of promise and hope but so much to do in so
    little time.  Work obligations, helping
    M.L.  The grandkids coming home, seeing
    the baby after a month! Can’t wait.


    Writing.  Have to do
    my writing for today.  Have to work on developing
    my half-baked ideas.  Oh to be able to
    catch a reader and enchant them with my words. 
    To have them read something and feel still.  Have them read something and feel whole. 


    Share gratitude, bring comfort.  Bring wisdom to those flailing without knowing
    why.  Maybe find some wisdom for myself.

    Nothing really coming, just my fingers moving.  Move a bit more, fingers, keep it up, you can
    do it.  Too much rest today, too much
    reading, not into write mode yet?  Or should
    that be right mode?  Right write mode?  Peter picked a peck of pickled pepper- oh
    more like sixth sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick. 
    Yuck.  Not just my tongue that
    can’t get around that one.   Where’s that
    time?  I guess more fun to think of
    something first and then let myself go, not let myself go and then think.   Do I like to think too much?  I think therefore I am.  Or I think therefore I write?  I think I like to write.  I think I like to flow, but I prefer to think
    with my flow.  Too much thinking not
    enough ?  Flow flow flow, hi ho hi  ho hi ho.


    HI ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go.    Now I’ve got the seven dwarfs in my
    head.   Sign that it’s fairy tale

    Oh m’gosh.  Way too
    much time left on the timer.  Help!  Stuck now. 
    Good chance to laugh at myself, don’t think any pearls are coming
    through, but I got myself to laugh at myself, always a good thing to do.  Now that I’m smiling now what?  Are you smiling too?  Just let a smile be your umbrella…  Talking in song again, of all the habits I
    had to pick up from my mother, this one takes the cake.  And I end up doing it even more than she
    does.  Annoying how you find yourself
    doing the things you hated when your mother did them.   Is editing
    here cheating? 

    15 minutes with pen and paper.



    Just for the record, trying freeflow with paper and
    pencil.  Let’s see if it’s any
    different.  Feels different, hope I can read
    it later.

    …Brain feels empty tonight, white white white white. Write
    on white.  Blank lines on white page
    letting thoughts out of their cage.  More
    words than thoughts.  Thoughts take
    flight across the lines, leaving me far behind. 
    Tings rhyming now—computer keys for prose, pens for rhymes?  Hope that happens all the time?  Oy, nothing worse than bad poetry.  Not a poet and I know it.

    Not a writer but a fighter? 
    God forbid!  Fighting days are
    over? Was I ever a fighter?  Naah.


    Running out of page—where’s my notebook when I need it?  Will the switch to  line to line make me stop with all these

    Yikes!  Hope I’ll be
    able to decipher my scrawl.  Why the heck
    do I write at all?  Good question, Joe.


    I write because I do, always have, altho not always stories,
    but scraps of writing all over.  Open
    old notebooks and find notes and stories and scraps all over.  Write on whatever is available.  Not the writing that is the problem, It’s the
    pursuing and following through.  The fear
    of submitting.  Why?  To thine own self be true.  Why does one need courage to do it?  Have to think it through.

    Double trouble boil bubble. 
    Uh oh, feel Shakespeare coming on. 
    I think I’ve ruined that quote, though. 
    Double Trouble—wasn’t that a film years ago when I was a kid?


    All over the place today, not very literary and no
    gems.  But the point has been proven, more
    gets written by hand.  Should I dump the
    computer (gasp)?  DH would love that J


    Rustle of paper as the page turns.  Noise intruding or merging with the scratch of
    pencil on page?  Scratch and rustle,
    rustle and scratch.  Shall we rustle up
    some eggs, pardner?  Can just see the cowboys walking by.  More like strutting,
    with their ‘dorbanim’ and chaps. 
    HELP!  I’m losing my English.  End up writing about a Hebrew speaking cowboy
    or back to the cowboy in Israel.  Like so


    Bonanza.  Hoss and
    Little Joe. TV is too enmeshed in our culture. 
    And the bong is soon going to sound. 


    P.S.  wrong, higher word count by computer but fewer pauses when writing with pen.  Got the quote right once I finished, but I thought it would be cheating to fix it.  And of course, once I typed in  the handwritten part, the word “spurs” immediately came back to mind.  Don’t think I’ve ever used ‘dorbanim’ in Hebrew for anything other than a crossword puzzle. 

    • Mariaanne

      That was lovely.  “To have them read something and feel still”.  It is just a great way to communicate.  I write with an ink pen most of the time but I work faster on a computer too.  

    • Mirelba

       Thanks!  Somehow that seems to sum it up the feeling I have when finishing a good book.

    • Mariaanne

      I know exactly what you mean.  

  24. Deb Atwood

    Congratulations, Joe, on your stellar feat! I “liked” you on Amazon and wish you great success. 

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks, Deb 🙂

  25. Tom Wideman

    Mike walked into the room and immediately beads of sweat formed on his upper lip, and it wasn’t because of the summer heat, as one of the men had lowered the thermostat down to 65 degrees in the lodge. The sweating was actually due to the anxiety of being in a room full of Christian men.

    Mike had a history, a very private history, a deep dark secret that didn’t jive with church teachings. If these men knew his story, there was a good chance he would be run off the campground by a mob carrying torches and pitchforks. At least that’s how he envisioned it. He felt like a monster compared to these godly men.

    The meeting began with boisterous singing of unfamiliar songs and some fiery preaching by a sweaty overweight man who looked rather uncomfortable in his shorts and camp t-shirt. When the preaching was done, the men were split up into groups. Mike tried to escape to the restroom, but found himself being directed to a circle of men sitting next to the snack table.

    The group leader started the discussion by introducing himself and telling his story. He was recently divorced. The next guy shared that he was celebrating one year of sobriety. The next guy asked for prayer as his wife had caught him looking at porn and was threatening to leave him.

    Mike fought back the unmanly tears as one by one these men who he assumed were a bunch of Ned Flanders clones admitted they were screw-ups just like him.

    “Hi, my name is Mike,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, but…”

    • Mariaanne

      This is an interesting start.  You always have good form to your stories.  The message that we are always among other people who do bad things is very clear here and told in very easy to read simple language.  If you develop this one, you might say what his secret is ahead of time or develop the other characters stories and show his response to them so that we can get a better idea of who he is, get at the people and not just what they did.  I think a more layered approach to this could be provoking. 

  26. soulstops

    Congrats, Joe, on the success of your book. What a fascinating fact @ Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder…and encouraging 🙂 Thank you.

  27. Jack Dowden

    I rediscovered my love for writing in the summer of 2007. In just about every way imaginable, I was a wreck.

    Fortunately enough, my job didn’t require my mind to be present, so it would drift elsewhere and dream little dreams of far off places and interesting people. I kept these things bottled up in my head for a long time, until I decided to just write them down on my computer.

    It was theraputic (spelling?), and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I didn’t write for money or for fame or whatever, I just wrote because writing felt good and it was something I really loved.

    I think a lot of people go through something like that, writing to fix themselves. It’s pretty much the one thing I’ve stuck with over the years. Writing is awesome.

    • Antonia

      I agree. I spend months just thinking, creating characters and worlds. Then suddenly, I feel that I need to write it down right now. I start writing, and because I’ve been thinking about it for so long, the words just flow. It’s the most amazing feeling.
      Also, seconded. Writing is awesome.

  28. Yvette Carol

    Joe, I like #15 Balance is overrated. I admire your quirky thoughts that come out sometimes in things like this, where you don’t just jump on the same bandwagon as everyone else, simply because its the fashionable train of thought. I agree. But it’s only been a very recent change of heart that makes me say that.
    I just bought your book, Let’s Write a Short Story, this morning. I’m looking forward to reading it 🙂

  29. Puffy

    (Uh…this is extremely imperfect. BUT I HAD THE MOST FUN WRITING IT :D)

    I wonder why volcanoes erupt.
    Is it because they’re angry? Their wife tells them to stop watching golf tournaments, lose weight, and get a decent job. And the volcano refuses and gets mad. Is that why they erupt?

    Or is it because they ate a rotten mud pie and they just had to erupt to puke it out?

     “Dear, I made this just for you,” its wife said soothingly, tossing it a huge stone casserole dish.

     “Is this safe?” the volcano asked sheepishly, sniffing the sour-smelling pie.

     “Safe as a bottle of dermatologist-tested baby powder.” (She was lying.)

    Maybe it’s because the volcano had diarrhea. 

    “Martha, there was DEFINITELY something wrong with that mud pie,” it groaned. 

    “Nonsense, darling,” she replied, “Now, I’m gonna, uh, go get you some toilet paper and the newspaper while you do your business at the loo.”

    Science DOES say why volcanoes erupt. The heat from the Earth’s core cooks up the melted stone and it erupts…blah, blah, blah. Those textbooks pretend that volcanoes have no feelings! The nerve!

    “Martha!” the volcano exclaimed, cheerfully walking into the living room, “I had the best time today!”

    “Why, honeybunches?”

    “Well, it’s because I finally realized why we volcanoes erupt!”

    “Oh, that’s great, Harold!” she cried, standing up and hugging her triumphant husband, “Why DO we erupt?”

    “It’s because of–”

    A boy came in with a weird ball thing. The top was red, the bottom was grey. “PIKACHU, I CHOOSE YOU!!!” he shouted.

    Suddenly, out from the ball thing came a yellow rat. An extremely cute yellow rat.

    “What in tarnations?” the volcano yelled, “What you doing here, boy?”

    “I came to get you a foot massage, sir,” he replied simply.

    “With an electric rat?!”

    “Pikachu!” the rat piped up.

    “And it says its own name?” the volcano’s wife asked.

    “Yup,” the boy said, “I’m Ash, and that’s Pikachu. Actually, we’re from an anime called Pokemon, but we got fired by Satoshi Tajiri. Now we give volcanoes foot massages for work!”

    The two volcanoes were speechless.

    Ash asked, “So will it be the regular or the Super Pokemon massage?”

    “I’ll go with the Super Pokemon!” the volcano exclaimed.

    “Oh, that’s gonna cost you.”

    “Dang it.”

    • Antonia

      This is AWESOME. And also Legendary. Great job. Wait. Still laughing. Need to be calm enough to type.
      That is such a great topic to write about. Also, loving the random appearance of Ash and Pikachu.
      Dammit. *bounces up and down in chair in frustration* Now I want to know why volcanoes erupt.
      Well done!

  30. Marla Rose Brady

    For me, part of being a writer is accepting my strangeness.  Letting strangeness ooze out of me and onto the sidelines of society.  Who cares what and who we are and where we are going?  The greatest stories and myths society will ever hear could very well, one day, be forgotten.

    We will all be forgotten one day, even our stories, no matter how Hemmingway or Faulkner or however we are, we will all one day be forgotten.

    A lot people don’t even know who William Faulkner is.

    My husband is an artist, and I have commissioned him to make me watercolors for every chapter of my book.  It’s our thing to do together.  Creative thoughts heal ourselves.  It’s important for us all to remember this.

    • Ed Pena

      That’s awesome. 🙂

    • Sandra D

      Good point about being forgotten, it struck a cord.

  31. Marni Gallerneault

    Very encouraging! I like the point about not worrying about balance, haha! Anything I read is always about finding balance and I actually feel quite relieved about being unbalanced! Practical advice, too. I think I could practice my writing for 15 minutes a day.

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Marni! You totally can.

      And yes, balance is overrated. The best artists, musicians, and writers in the world have always been out of balance, completely focused on their one passionate pursuit. It’s about finding a center, not finding balance.

  32. Kate

    Ahhhh, thank you, Joe!!!!!!!! Just what I needed after a stressful weekend at work. Incidentally, I have been reading some of the 15 minute practice thingies, and OMG, you guys are GOOD…I’m going to have to get some serious practice in….

    • Sandra D

      Yeah their practices are supremely helpful in my opinion!

  33. Sela Toki

    Wow, thank you for just giving me a much needed boost to get back to writing. Have been sitting way too long. Got a children book published with a Publisher on Demand company a couple years back and the results didn’t turn out the way I expected so I got a little discouraged and have been wallowing ever since. It’s time to get back and you’ve been so motivating with this list. Thank you ever so much.

  34. Minecraft Games

    I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought
    out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts
    down so well.

  35. Jasmine R.

    There was this heat train coming and I panicked. The news
    stations didn’t help. Heat can be deadly, heat can kill you, heat is a killer –
    how many different ways could you describe the lethality of heat? I think they
    came up with at least five or six more, some involving pets and your elderly
    grandparents in Sun City. Now, we already know that Las Vegas is a steam bath
    without the steam in the summer. But this was a more virulent and threatening
    type of heat, and my first instinct was, of course, to run away. San Diego was
    cooler, as was any public library. The public pool would be a good choice – if 47 kids per square feet didn’t have the same idea. The library, well… yawn, and it’s the weekend, after all.

    It really started to bother me the most when I went out the
    walk the dog at 10 PM and it was still over 100 degrees. Bad sign. Now it was
    too late to get to higher ground or the beach, and besides, we had a party to
    go Saturday night at a very hospitable Guamanian friend’s house – authentic and abundant (and free) food too good to miss, and of course the party itself. But that food…

    The next morning I woke up strangely calm, and empowered by the in the air conditioning, hatched this devilish plan for what I decided would be one hell of a day. No getting mercilessly bumped in an overcrowded public pool, no pretending to be saturated by my novel in the library. I told my husband, who is equally or even more rebellious than I am, that we would be heading to the 7-11 for coffee and then to the Swap Meet. He looked up, with a gleam in his eye I am sure I haven’t seen since our wedding day a year ago, and said slowly, “The indoor one?” I waved my hand in a cavalier dismissal. “The outdoor one.” More gleaming. This must be what it feels like to pack your bags for Mt. Everest or rehearsing for a lead in a Shakespeare play. All right, maybe not that extreme, but it was already 110 and 116 was promised.

    After dawdling at the well-stocked 7-11 coffee area as long as we could without drawing attention to ourselves (“Do you recommend the iced coffee? Is it pre-sugared?”) we headed for the swap meet and found about half the
    place had already packed up, making us a little more of the superheroes we obviously were. We made it long enough to buy some multi-colored multi-flavored pistachios, peruse the many tools and Hello Kitty handbags, and of course check in on Facebook with a pithy line stolen from a bygone era: “We ain’t afraid of no heat!” By this time, though, I was getting very afraid of the heat so I casually suggested we head for Kmart, but I really meant anywhere that had walls and doors. We fought the heat… and yes, the heat won… but only after we gave it a good run for its money!

  36. Kerri

    I love thinking about how you’re never too young to write. I think we should encourage young people to start a writing habit early – especially if they show a passion for Here’s another post about why to start writing…there are actually a lot of literal health benefits! http://www.storyshelter.com/blog/start-writing/

  37. Ed Pena

    It began with an itch. A tiny, inconsequential itch. Right between the shoulder blades where no amount of physical contortion could reach. An itch that started as a passing annoyance, but that grew and grew until it burrowed into his mind, deep through his flesh, into his very bones. An itch like a million mosquito bites that no amount of scratching could stop. An angry, insistent, infintisimal monstrosity of an itch, and nothing was ever the same again.


    The whispy fog of pine scented disinfectant drifted over the smell of urine, feces, old people, and death, somehow managing to actually accentuate their odors. Danny Silvas wrinkled his nose in the bathroom mirror as he examined his face for any new or deepening signs of aging. This place, he thought, was where life tired of living came to fade away into nothingness, forgotten and meaningless. Old, flaccid, wrinkled bodies each day less substantial than the day before, lumped like so many sacks of bones and flesh on hospital beds and wheelchairs, left to rot away.

    At thirty seven, Danny was intimately familiar with every mole, line, wrinkle, and crevasse of what women once called beautifully masculine features. Satisfied he could still pass for early thirty, he turned his attention back to gathering the remnants of his grandmother’s life, the bottles of pills and tubes of ointments, an old fashioned tortoise shell brush, a few strands of grey-white hair stuck in the bristles, lavender scented soaps and lotions. Sweeping motions of his hand sent them all cascading into the small garbage pail he had found by the toilet. It was bad enough the old woman had left him with a mountain of debt, and no income, but he hadn’t found so much as a single worthwhile piece of jewelry or cash. Probably stolen by the staff, he thought sourly.

    The bedroom contained a twin bed, two chairs, a small table, a bureau, and an old tube style television strapped to a swivel platform mounted to a wall. Scattered about the room were half a dozen pictures Danny had brought from home early in her illness when he had still bothered to visit. On the bureau he noted a family portrait of his grandparents, parents, and himself as a toddler of two or three. Danny didn’t have many memories of his parents, anymore. They had died in an automobile accident when he was seven, and his grandfather had passed ten years later of a heart attack. The only child of only children, he had gone to his grandmother by default. She had done what she could, her husband’s small life insurance paid off the mortgage, and his meager pension kept the lights and heat on, while her social security check put food in his belly and shoes on his feet. There hadn’t been much left over for frills. With her dead, there wasn’t anything at all, the pension and social security went with her, and all that remained was the cost of her slow dying. At least he had the house.

    His gaze moved to a picture of the two of them at his high school graduation. A small, spare woman in her Sunday best looked at the camera with tired eyes full of pride and hope in the tall, handsome young man by her side. Like a flipbook, later photographs taken over the years showed those eyes become increasingly dull with resignation as she realized that handsome boy would never live up to the potential she believed he had. With a snort of derisive bitterness, Danny threw the pictures into a plastic trash bag. Thank God it only took two trips to haul her crap out to the dumpster behind the building. The gauntlet of old people made his skin crawl as he hurried out the door.

    • Sandra D

      Wow that is really good. I don’t know what to say, I’m impressed.

    • Katherine Nederlof

      Wow! I’m really impressed by this! Although, if the first part is supposed to tie in with the second part I don’t see how.

    • Ed Pena

      It’s part of what should be a 2000 word short for a writing assignment I’m working on. Hoping to have the rest done by dinner. Ugh, lol.

  38. Sandra D

    I just bought your book, “Let’s Write A Short Story.” I am very excited. I hope it helps me write some short stories! 🙂

  39. Katherine Nederlof

    5, 6, 9, 10, 12 and 15 really helped me, so I though I would write a poem, don’t usually do poetry. It doesn’t have a name yet, and It’s kind of depressing but I hope you like it!

    I’ve dug your grave.
    Ripped the pages from the end of the book.
    I’m raising up the bridge.

    You tried,
    You failed.
    Now it’s too late, did you really think we could?
    You know you’ll never forget.

    We were just pretending.
    Come morning you’ll see,
    That our love wasn’t enough.

    So watch the gap widen,
    And flip the last page I left.
    I’ll hold your hand the whole way down.

    I tried,
    I failed.
    I was too late, I really thought I could.
    And I’ll never forget.

    No, I’ll just pretend.
    That the silence doesn’t scream,
    That it was you not me.

    I’ll bury my truth,
    And burn all those words.
    Then lock the gate, because,

    I gave up,
    I knocked it down.
    It wasn’t too late, and yes we really could.
    And now I wish I could forget.

  40. Juan

    So i just wrote this, and i lliked the story in general, so i’m planning to expand it to a full-fledged short story when i can:

    I’m running amidst the dark. I don’t
    know where I am. I don’t know who long it’s been since the chase started, but I
    do not dare stop running. I feel it.
    Lurking, never too far behind, like my shadow. I hear it now. That dreadful
    crackling noise. It is bones, teeth, or something else entirely, I don’t know.
    Who but the devil himself has that answer anyway? It follows me. Crack, crack,
    crack, crack. It’s getting louder. I know it’s that thing. It can’t be anything
    else. The forest is dead silent, even the wind has left this forgotten land.
    The only sounds are the creature and my own ragged breath and fast-pumping
    heart. I keep on running. I reach a small, wooden house. I bash my way in and
    lock myself inside. I ache all over. I put my head between my knees and weep. I
    don’t know what to do, I can’t fight it.

    It doesn’t hurt. The cracking has
    stopped. I stay still, holding my breath, trying to focus, trying to hear even
    the softest of rustlings, but nothing. I lay down against a tree, catching my
    breath and resting my exhausted legs. I’m lost. I don’t know where I am or what
    do to. I don’t know what’s following me, how to stop it, I’m not even sure how
    I got into this situation anymore, or if I’m even awake. The whole thing just
    seems to be drifting away from me. I’m losing it.

    The forest is calm and I thank God
    for it, I think. It’s not dark, but the trees are high and the fog dense,
    making the sun but a memory in my leaking mind. It’s not hot, it’s not cold, it
    just is. The ground is soft, and so is the tree, I feel nothing. I sit there,
    and let time go by. Seconds, minutes, hours, the forest, surrounded by the
    abyss, doesn’t allow me to keep track.
    The fog doesn’t recede, so I can just about see a few trees ahead of me.

    I’m lost, completely lost. How did I
    get here? An infinite forest spreading towards nowhere. I see someone a few
    feet away from me. He’s staring at me, and I’m staring at him. He looks lost, I
    should try to help him. I try to shout for him, but I can’t do anything but
    whimper. I try to stand up, and I can’t either. So I start crawling, slowly
    making my way towards him. He sees me, and starts running opposite. I crawl
    faster, trying to warn him, he’s going to get lost, he should stop and listen.
    But he doesn’t stop. Crawling so fast is hurting me, and soon my bones start to
    crackle. I’m going faster and faster, but so is he. He’s running amidst the
    dark. He doesn’t know where he is.

  41. Barbara T.

    Have you seen the movie, “Children of a Lesser God”? The story is about two people from different worlds trying to figure out how to maneuver through strangeness to reach a comfortable love. For me, though, the real story is of a young deaf woman who functions in a hearing world, crying out for someone to understand who she is. She aches for someone to see her without deafness, courage, and all the titles people attach to her. Deep inside is a heart living in silence wanting to connect with a soul who knows, understands and loves her.
    I relate to the character because people label, categorize and create expectations based on my sitting in a wheelchair. Why do I write? I write to crack open a window into my soul, should anyone want to peek. I also write to encourage the millions who ache to be known and understood, even if they fit into the category of “normal.”

  42. Sandra D

    Today was the day I would look so proud to you Mammy. My principal will call me up on that stage, in his big blue uniform smiling, and all the people will look tiny down from where I stand, and they will look up at me and listen to me speak. They will listen and want to hear me because of what I have done. And I will know you are somewhere out there listening to everything, seeing everything. Maybe then you’ll realize I am more then you thought I was.

    However a child tries to grow and forget, memories burned in the brain like the searing of hot iron on left buttocks of a bull, keep coming up again and again. With my boyfriend caught myself yelling at him, not knowing where it came from and heat in cheeks, and remember. Countless times you pouring yourself burning whiskey and set it on a table next to you while pouring the news into your brain. I’d walk a little too hasty and spill the little cup all over the carpet. And you’d jump up and say, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” And I’d back away and say, “Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry.” And you’d stalk off and get a towel and some cleaner rubbing it away, back and forth, your muscles showing as you’d grind the towel into the carpet. And when I failed class, you’d prowl the outside of my dark room before poking your head in, your fur sleek and shimmering before the pounce, eyes glowing, seeing everything. I would try to be asleep as fast as possible so somehow I’d miss it. It never mattered. “Your a useless no good taker is all you are.” you say in bitter low tones. But it was only the beginning within five minutes it was a scream, your claws scratching and tearing in. You’d yell til you’d tire out and I lay still, play dead, closing my eyes tight waiting for it to end but it cut more deep then I could believe and I’d just try to hang tight like the last leaf on a tree in a wind storm, hanging hanging and then snap. Once I am sure some part of my body flew up one night and floated away forever. A happy part, the part that plays and skips, the part that other kids have when they play in the courtyard, free and unthinking.

    But today is a day of triumph. When you see me up there, successful, strong. I get an award and the principal will introduce me. People will clap as I walk up that stage. Hundreds of people clapping appreciatingly. And I will talk, and it don’t really matter if what I speak is that good, cause when I get there, it is there. And as I flash a winning smile large, so large a smile I never smiled before. No one would even know I had teeth that big. It will be a smile so full of treachery to know that you, dear mammy will see me up there, and I will be up there practically shouting in your face how dead wrong you were about me.

  43. AnnM

    To write for 15 minutes about any old thing isn’t difficult for a writer. However, to allow this to be read is a different matter altogether if you are a perfectionist.

    The perfectionist is never quite finished with their creation. It can always be improved upon: a word here, a punctuation here. Attaining perfection itself is as elusive as catching one’s shadow. Yet we writers don’t give up, we can’t! As writing for us is almost like breathing. It must be done! Its involuntary!

    We are an insecure lot however, needing the reassurance that our mind’s creation is not simply our own personal rambling but that which is able to stir emotion in others. Be it joy or sorrow, love or hate, we wish to impart some gift to our audience that might enhance the moment, the day, or dare we say, their life.

    It is a tall order that we wish for, therefore so much we ask of ourselves in the production. Can we offer less than perfection? Of course we must or it will remain in a notebook or computer file, perhaps to be thrown out or deleted or worse, read and enjoyed as our posterity.

    So be brave we must and share our worth. Consequence be damned!

    • Sandra D

      Thank you Ann. I agree with everything you say. Especially how we cannot ever give up.

    • AnnM

      Thanks Sandra, I’m still struggling with being a perfectionist. So, although I have things I’m writing, I haven’t gotten past the editing stage and on to being published. Here at the writing practice I’m gaining my confidence that I can be seen and heard by the reading public. That I do indeed have something to “say”. That I will survive the criticism that will ultimately come and still be happy with my work.

    • Sandra D

      Yes this website I think is sort of a healing website for writers teaching us to believe in ourselves and push our limits a little at a time through the regular practices> I wasn’t writing at all when I stumbled on this website.

    • Reagan

      Powerful! Being the EXTREME perfectionist that I am, I can completely relate! We are our own worst critic. But it is like breathing! Writing becomes a part of us unlike anything else!

    • LazyWriter

      Haven’t we all enjoyed the flawed, imperfect characters of what have become the best books ever? Ahab, he was flawed, and so was Scrooge. Just two excellent examples, so well known, that most everyone knows them by their first name with not even a mention of the book title from which they come. Those novels would not exist without their flawed stars who keep us in expectation and hope for their transformation and redemption. Why shouldn’t we embrace our own flaws as writers and get on with this art of writing? It is our flaws that make us see what we see and write what we write. Perfection–a flaw, true–can be such an asset. I think the trick is in knowing when to give into the flaw, and when to not do so. When to let it go for the freedom and energy that writing for the sake of writing allows the writer to write incredible and wonderful stuff. That’s where ‘free writing’ excels. It allows us to get past our self-imposed expectations of perfection and find something new in ourselves that is valuable. Free writing allows, begs for, demands mistakes, re-writes, and editing–later! It can, and usually is, when our best writing takes flight. Write fearlessly, Perfectionist! And, edit later. 😉

    • AnnM

      I guess my worry about my current project is that it is based upon a famous book and is historical fictional characters. I very much want to keep the feel of the period and I have done a lot of research into the period so I hope to keep it as authentic as possible.

      No one can please everyone I know, and the people I have allowed to read excerpts have enjoyed it. My husband thinks I should send it to a publisher (and make us a lot of money LOL) however I’m inclined to self publish. What I’ve read here is that if I’m rejected then I always have the option of self publishing just so I can say I finished the book and have published.

      By book is still ‘in the works, as I’m not sure I have all the story out yet, So this site and it’s readers are helping.

    • LazyWriter

      If the feelings portrayed by your characters are authentic, and can be grasped by your reader without effort, you will have connected with your readers. If you’ve done your research into the period, it will ring clear, and true, and not disappoint. What glares as incorrect, your editor, if good, will catch. Just get the writing done and find a history buff of that era to read it first (for fun). Let that person catch the out of era errors. All you need are the flavors of the history, a few details you know are correct historically, and you’re off and running.

    • AnnM

      Thanks so much for the encouragement… I do feel as if I have the emotions of the characters well in hand. I will keep at it.

  44. Sean Lance

    Well here I go. It begins. I’ve also posted this on my website: http://mr30days.com/challenge/2014/7/11/practice-writing

    I’m trying this to get my fingers moving on the keyboard. This type of exercise is much like what I try to do for 30 minutes each morning. I wake up before my son and my wife. About 6:30-ish. Then I go meditate for about 10-15 minutes. After that it is time to boil water for a french press of coffee and bring it upstairs to my office.

    The french press is set down next to my computer. The hot water infuses the ground coffee, turning the water near delicious black. I set my phone timer for 30 minutes and let loose. An interesting pattern has emerged in the last 8 days that I have been consistently doing this. I tend to describe my morning routine and then make paragraph/thought breaks like this…

    A sip of coffee. At this point I will transition to another train of thought or continue with what I was talking/typing about at the time. It is mostly a word vomit, brain droppings, morning pages ala The Artist’s Way type of almost journaling type sort of activity.

    A sip of coffee. Mmmm, coffee. Is there anything better than fresh in the quiet of the morning? (this is mostly for the sake of example since it is 7:35 pm while I am writing these words, and not drinking coffee at the moment)

    Describing my surroundings sometimes works. My 3.75 year old son is on the other side of my ofice at my desk playing Nick JR games on the computer. I’ve learned to sit over here and be able to read, or practice some guitar, and even write a little bit with only occasionally having to keep his bounciness in check.

    Then I can describe my writing set up. This is being typed using Simple Note on my iPad and a wireless bluetooth keyboard. This is because of my son dominating the laptop at the moment.

    Now I am looking at the phone timer thinking it must be closer to 15 minutes than it is now. Still have five minutes to spill my brain out on the keys. I’ve gotten quite good over the years at spilling my journalistic philisophic ramblings out on paper and the keyboard. I just haven’t been able to scratch a story out of the soil of my subconsious. At this point in my life I have finally decided that I am going to write.

    That’s just it. I am going to write. In two weeks I will not be working and in the position where I don’t have to go back in the immediate future. I’ll be able to pull my son out of daycare and save money there. Sales of the jewelry that my wife makes are picking up. Our passive income streams are mostly solid. I will have the time to devote to writing seriously.

    Of course having the time to write and actually doing it are two completely diffferent things.

  45. Bill Holmes

    Thanks for reposting this article. I spent a good 45 minutes writing in my journal this evening. The seventeenth reason, writing for ourselves, is very necessary for any writer. During my journal writing, I recognized the transformation I am currently undertaking to release my fears and to not allow any negative thoughts interfere with my life, especially when it comes to my writing. This exercise was empowering for me because I believe I haven’t yet tapped into my creative potential.
    Have a good evening.

    • Joe Bunting

      Awesome, Bill. I’m glad it encouraged you.

    • Sandra D

      I liked that you said it has been a transformation to release your fears. I feel like I have been undergoing transformation in my writing in what I reveal. I feel like it is helping me to grow.

  46. Reagan

    Two years ago, (actually, almost three), I came up with an idea that, to me, would ‘make a great movie’. Someday. Then I scribbled it down and forgot about it. Three months later I was going through my notebooks(I have dozens) and found it. That day I started to write. I’ve been writing ever since.
    I write because I have been called to write. And If God can use a disorganized perfectionist who has absolutely no idea what she’s doing, I’m willing to go along for the ride.
    I write because I absolutely love it. You’re dead-on with absolutely everything you wrote here. You’re never too young(I’m 17, and btw, I love the posts by the magic violinist)

    And I so agree with wanting to stop being a consumer. Anyone can do the things you see everyone else doing, you just need to DO IT!
    This is my favorite post so far. Thanks!

  47. Miriam N

    Alright so I really liked this post. It got me writing some things I hadn’t worked on in a long time. It also helped me to write some haiku’s so I decided to post some of them here. Here goes nothing.

    Leaves turn into gold,
    slowly winds bring biting chill
    Hibernation starts

    Flowers start to bloom
    bee’s awake from their slumber
    a new start awaits

    I hope you like them.

  48. Peggy Carouthers

    Great points, Joe. I was going to include my favorite points, but as I was rereading the list, I realized that all of these points have been true for me at various points. There’s never going to be a better time to write, so we should all just sit down and do it. Thanks for the great post.

  49. LazyWriter

    After Midnight

    It is when the burly black drummers pound in my head, deep into the
    night, the oblivion of reality stands—no, looms—tall in the doorway to my small
    writing room. That’s when strange words and odd emotions, warped memories and
    twisted images come to sit by me.

    Jungles take over an otherwise sparse landscape of
    ordinariness and imagination leaps and runs like a wild animal or nimble
    ancient warrior into tall trees, tangles of strong vines and dark pathways not
    recently trodden.

    Do you hear whispers in the night? I am known as a sane and
    clear headed person. In the deep, wee hours, though, I wonder if I really know,
    really touch, insanity. A writer’s mind mysteriously goes places. One can never
    expect where the experience of the night will lead.

    Do you hear the invitation to slip out of your comfortable
    skin and into a one previously unknown? A skin that will allow you to visit
    places you would not ordinarily go? The spotted skin of a wild animal? The dark
    ebony skin of a white landowner’s prized slave? The tender flesh of a newborn
    child with the mind of a sage septuagenarian? Where will your mind take you on
    a stormy night? Or, a night of a sky laced with so many stars the sky looks
    like the floor of a bead worker whose collection of a billion beads got
    scattered on her dark floor with firelight shining through the many colored
    bits of glass and gems.

    To write is to give way to a little bit of what isn’t there,
    except in one’s own mind—a place full of strange delights, and sometimes not delights,
    but the unlikeable and fearful. Sometimes I don’t like what I find out about
    what is in my mind. But that is when, my self becomes exposed, stripped of all
    convention and becomes my teacher.

    What do you hear in the dark of night?

  50. Jamal J

    I sit here and think
    how has my life come to this. I am tired, bored and wanting a change. I have
    always felt like everyone is better than I am at everything! I can’t for the
    life of me put my finger on it. This has been crippling for me! I am at the end
    of my rope I just want to crawl under a rock. However, I cannot I have 3 small
    children and I wish to not just live but to thrive. I want to show them that impossible
    is nothing that dreams can and do come true. I live so that they may soar. Nothing
    matters more than that to me. I am so tempted to just quit before I meet the
    goal for this writing prompt. But I can’t not yet I want to finish what I start
    how can I expect them to be their best if I do not model persistence and if
    that is lacking then just good old fashion stubbornness. I hope someday to make
    a living writing but for now I will keep my head down and force myself to
    continue trying to write. I made it to the end of the prompt YEAH!!

  51. vivek

    Writing i feel comes with practice alone because many ideas people are filled with but they do not have the skills of writing to give a shape to it and make it presentable to target audience. In writing, the start is scary but one you get pass of it things become easy and words start flowing. I think the nagging feeling of being imperfect drives one to write more and more to reach to a level where in first draft itself he or she feel satisfied.

  52. Queen278

    If you want people to read ur book or if u would just like practice try going to the website: Wattpad. There are lots of beginner writers and many books have been published from Wattpad. You can write ur own stories and read other people stories. I think it is a great website to just start off on. It’s easy to use and you can take if on ur phone, kindle, ipad, etc.


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