Above is a book that I have been using as I have been thinking more and more about writing.
I've been thinking a lot about writing lately. And I'm trying to figure out where it is coming from. I've always considered myself to be a pretty competent writer. I did well-enough in school writing papers, etc. I didn't particularly enjoy writing endless research papers, but I did enjoy sometimes creating a truly great sentence. Since I have no research or term papers in my foreseeable future, I've begun to think about other types of writing-and taking the time to improve my own abilities.
Perhaps some of these thoughts are coming from my blogging. It's been a fabulous experience of putting thoughts in words and sentences for friends and strangers alike to read. The whole process has been like an exercise in writing and communication. For example, I have come to notice that I use certain words and phrases entirely too much. The biggest offender is "interesting". I use it all the time. But what does it really convey? Surely if I am writing about a book or experience, you can assume that it's interesting, or I wouldn't bother to mention it in the first place. It kind of reminds me of the word that starts to drive me up the wall during every major political campaign: "compelling". Whenever someone brings up a marginally controversial issue, the candidates inevitably refer to the question, problem, information, answer, or proposed solution as "compelling". It's a handy word to show interest and concern without actually committing yourself to either side. I noticed the use of this word in at least the last two presidential elections by candidates of both parties.
I think it was Holly Becker that suggested making a list of overused words and to begin to look for replacements for them. I need to start doing that. My other overworked words and phrases include some of the usual suspects: "a lot" "it" and other words that lack both pizzazz and adequate description.
So the blog has caused me to think about improving my words, but other exercises have shed light on other writing aspirations. As I mentioned before, I am working through The Artist's Way and I am already gaining some clarity. Although I enjoy traditional art activities-such as painting and sculpture-I don't think I have the heart or the talent to really pursue it in any capacity beyond "fun stress-relieving play" (which is certainly valid and wonderful). But The Artist's Way has left me desiring a creative pursuit of my own to nurture and cultivate. Since I am already such a lover of books and words, what about writing? The Morning Pages associated with The Artist's Way have been extremely instrumental in this process. Even after only a week (with a day or two skipped), I am already seeing ideas and dreams emerge. Come to think of it, this "unfiltered" blogging feels a lot like Morning Pages.
There are certain things in your life that it just never occurs to you to try. At least for me. I have no desire to run for public office, try for a record deal, or star in a movie (although I enjoy politics, music, and film respectively). Writing a book was always right up there with competing in the Olympics or getting a PhD (the former I could clearly never do-I didn't make the 7th grade volleyball team-and the latter is something others have suggested, but it's never been a goal or desire of mine. I think I'll stick with the Masters). I don't mean this to seem like a lack of ambition, just a different channeling of it. There are still many fairly lofty goals that I have for my life, just not in these particular areas. (I realize these accomplishments aren't all really on par with one another, but it's the best I could do without breaking my "unfiltered" aim for this post). All of this to say it never occurred to me that I wanted to or could write a book and actually get it published. I'm still working on the "could" part, I am starting to think that this is something I really want to do. I included it on my "bucket list" a few months ago, much to my own surprise. At this point I have no idea what kind of book I want to write or what it would be about. I don't think a novel appeals to me, but maybe something non-fiction? Or a children's book?!? That would be outstanding! (outstanding is one of my new pet words- I'm still trying it out). On side note, another goal I never thought I'd have for myself is forming: to start an organization, specifically a non-profit. Again, I don't know exactly what it would be yet, but it's making its way onto some lists. Thoughts for another day and another post...
Well, now I have shared this idea with real people, so I can't really forget about it. It's not something I'm planning on pursuing immediately, but I'm definitely going to let the concept percolate as I work on some ideas. I already have a couple of characters in mind for a children's book.
P.S. Another huge word of thanks to Carolyn for the idea of unfiltered blogging. It's already led to some interesting-gah!-surprising places. And for the record, this accomplished woman has started a successful non-profit, written a book that is on track to be published this summer, and is working toward a PhD. What an inspiration.