I find myself more in the writing mood lately, than in the creating outfits mood. Good! After all, I started this journey about two years ago with this particular goal, or better say, dream in mind - start living the life I've been dreaming of for many years, a writing life. In many ways, I've done it. Now, looking back at these two years, I can definitely say that I've done it. I started with reading books about writing (I might make a post about them in the future) - encouraging books, kind books, books that became not only my mentors, but also my friends. I've been writing stories (mostly in my native language). And I also started writing in English - a language that I do not know very well, as I am basically self-taught in it, and it was a huge leap of trust to just dive in and start writing my first blog in English. I remember when Justin mentioned the possibility for me to write a blog in English, I thought he went mad. Me? Writing in English? Never! And yet, now, almost two years later, I write in English practically every day, still with errors, of course, but getting stronger with every post - and most importantly writing with true joy and freedom, and that's exactly what it's all about... about liberating your soul from fears. And as another leap of trust, I started writing fiction, short stories in English, and even initiated a link-up that is going very well. At first, I worried a little about the idea of limiting myself with an "opening phrase" for each story. But in the end, I find that it actually helps and I have no problem at all to start writing, to feel inspired, to work with the particular phrase, let it tell me a story - the story that would probably not happen, if not for that phrase.
So all of my almost two years of experience of becoming a writer (in English - because I've already been a writer in my native language, writing since a very early age, and published since the age of 12) lead me to a new idea. One of the things I've done in the past, in one of my Russian blogs, was daily writing sketches (or exercises, if you will). Initially, I wanted to do them every day for a year, but in the end, I've accomplished a little over a month of such daily sketches (34, I believe). Some of them became short stories or flash fiction, others became essays, while still other remained simply that - sketches. The idea behind them was to get in the habit of writing daily, and I still consider that project a success, even though I did not complete the whole year of writing them. But they did their job - after a long period of not writing regularly, they brought me back to my true love of writing... After that, I found a book by Barbara Abercrombie called Kicking In the Wall - A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts and Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals. Again, I've completed over a month's worth of prompts, and it helped me to keep my pencil sharp. I love the main idea - keep your exercises 5 minutes short! If you happen to want to write more, then go ahead and do it, and if not - then that's it. Do not stop and edit yourself, write for the whole 5 minutes - that's Barbara's approach. Some of your 5-minute exercises will lead you to creating essays, stories or even novels - who knows where they'll take you. And others, well, they will be just that - exercises.
So I've decided to combine these two ideas, my old idea of daily sketches, and Barbara's idea of 5-minute prompts, and start a new link-up here, on the blog that I started last year for this particular reason, to get into a writing life. The rules are simple. Every morning, I will offer a theme (prompt), most probably random, borrowed from the outside world, from my dream, from a dictionary or a random book on my bookshelf, and post it here on this blog. If you, like me, want to get into writing habits and feel that such exercises help you, by all means, create a post in your blog, write for 5-10 minutes whatever comes to mind (you can edit it after all, but not during those few minutes of writing a sketch) - and link it to my post. I also will write and post my sketch on the same day. So we can share, encourage and hopefully help each other. I call it Rise and Write - meaning, get up, have your first cup of coffee, and somewhere between that cup of coffee and brushing your teeth, sit down to write. Just for 5 or 10 minutes. I think we all can manage it, can't we? And if you don't find my prompt inspiring (it happens!), then come up with your own, or change mine to the form that inspires you - and write. Only 5-10 minutes, no more. Don't worry about it being perfect, finished or polished. They are sketches! They are not meant to be finished or polished - they are meant to be improvisations, free form, imperfect! We'll take it a short block at a time, not the whole year (seems like forever when you think that you'll be doing it for 365 days in a row). We'll start on August 1st. Deal? :)
PS And Justin and I paid for participating in the Writer's conference today - two full days of classes in October!