A Year Of Writing: Month 1

So, as mentioned before, I’m taking an online “class” of sorts with Alice Bradley. She writes very funny things and then people buy them – two things I have yet to do (write funny things OR have people pay me to write … anything). So far in my history I find myself paying other people for me to write… hello grad school! (Hello this moment.)

This month is all about: Ideas!

Last week’s “assignment” (I am using air-quotes, or REAL quotes if you’re getting technical, because these assignments are just for me. I don’t turn them in and no one is holding me accountable. So assignment, yes, but mostly it is inspiration in a structured form so I can get my shit together again) was to come up with 20 new ideas.

Oh god, I thought, this is my biggest issue right now. I feel empty! And right off the bat I am supposed to come up with MY OWN ideas. Hello! This is why I am paying money for this class! I am idea-less! And now, “amazing” (air quotes) Alice Bradley wants me to come up with 20. Oh GREAT.

So I sat down during me evening of writing that I get once a week on purpose, and I started. I started with the ideas I was kind of annoyed at myself for having (the ideas that are redundant and I am sick of) and then I just started writing whatever popped into my mind, whatever I felt like maybe I could write about. After that fun things started to come out, silly things, things I would love to write and thought weren’t academic enough. I got 18 ideas. I didn’t get 20. My brain stopped functioning at 18 and I had to go to bed, my 2 hours were up, but 18!! That is excellent. That is 18 more than I had the week before. Go me.

Then this week the assignment was to go back and review my ideas, what do I think of them now? Which ideas stood out to me? Etc etc, ruminate! And then start writing on one. Just do it. And you know what? I actually had been thinking about 1 idea I’d written down all week, and I was kind of excited to get started on it. And I was also kind of excited to re-remember the other ideas and use them as writing props for later down the road. So I sat down with my notebook (where I use an actual pen and paper) and my laptop and got ready to read through this wonderful ideas of mine.

Guess what happened? Well… some of my ideas were so what-the-fuck that I just had to share some of them with you. Plus, this is all part of my “assignment,” right? I’m ruminating. And laughing at myself. So, pretty standard.

Ok here we go. Lauren’s great ideas for writing the next story to clearly land in Best American Short Stories:

  • Tales From a Maid: The After Party
  • A Nude Model
  • Magical Realism: Someone doing something totally normal when suddenly they stumble across a pocket-sized unicorn. All this time they were just tiny.
  • A new Christmas classic

… because that’s not setting the bar high or anything.

So it’s 15 days into the new year, how are your goals coming? Have you started in on a new routine? Do you have plans for any (big or small) risk taking? I’ll be checking in on this and letting you know how I’m doing on my goals (successfully asked my parents to watch Gabe a few times so we could unpack! Made grown up dinner plans for Saturday for the first time in months!) here and there throughout the year. Thank you in advance for holding me accountable!

20 thoughts on “A Year Of Writing: Month 1”

  1. I love your Magical Realism idea! It makes me so happy that you’re going after this goal. I’ve been reading a lot more, and writing a little more, so that’s pretty good. Baby steps!

  2. So I haven’t said this to anyone yet (not even Jami!), but I’m trying to blog more regularly in 2014. Twice a week to be specific. And I’m trying to develop regular “features” so that I will have things to blog about. So far I’ve started a feature on Caldecott Medal winners – only one published so far, and one coming next week, and I’ve come up with the idea for a couple others that I’m working on (a regular post of Toddler Reads, and one on Illustrators that I love). I even bought myself a little Moleskine notebook with a calendar and have been planning what I’ll post when. I feel very official! It’s really just for me – because I enjoy it and I like having a project, but there you go… my no-longer secret goal!

  3. I started writing more on my self-proclaimed “shitty lifestyle blog” A Cup of Shit. It feels cathartic because it is about more frivolous, less-feelingsy and heavy things than my personal blog. I am having fun with it without worrying “where exactly I’m going with it”, which is great.

  4. Those are so funny and silly! I am so impressed with the new goal and so far you’re doing great, way to go!!

    I really like the 20 ideas assignment. I think I may try to do a non-writing version of that for myself. I’ve been feeling stuck and uninspired lately, maybe what I need is to just sit and write 20 life ideas, and run with the one that leaves me thinking about it?

  5. I actually want to read anything and everything you come up with on those prompts. Especially the maid one … so much fun!

    But on a serious note … if you really want to write on the nude model prompt, I can help with research. Having done some myself (for both photography and figure classes) I have some first hand experience, but even more helpful … friends who make a living at it. And boy, do they have STORIES. If you want me to introduce you, I’m on it. πŸ˜‰

    1. Ooo yes! I would love to have them tell me all the stories they have! I actually started on 2 ideas last night and one of them was the nude model prompt. Mostly because I have wanted to be one for years!!

  6. I finished my first book of 2014 yesterday! I’m 1/15 of my way to my goal! I’ve also settled into a good-for-me exercise routine. Still trying to find a good yoga studio in my new neighborhood though.

    I love you unicorn idea.

  7. I would totally pay for a book about nude models’ stories! Just imagine! What a cool experience.

    I’m going to write a post this week about my goals for the year, but it is all about being BOLD, trying new things, and challenging myself. And then writing about it. So there’s that πŸ™‚

  8. I feel really proud of you that you’re giving this a go. I’ve felt empty of ideas since I finished my undergrad studies- and part of that was that you have more ideas the more you work at it, when you’re forced to have ideas. I’d like to do NaNoWriMo at least once maybe this year, maybe not. This year is about a last push at getting a good job at a uni(long contract or ongoing after my current work decided they wanted to only offer me casual hours) before enacting my back up plan and retraining as a high school English teacher.

  9. I’m trying to figure out how to tackle my 2014 goal of leading a more balanced life, creatively… I wrote a lot in 2013, BUT most of it was in short, intense bursts — which just leave me exhausted and drained, and then it takes me time to recuperate. Not sustainable at all. I need to figure out how to balance it all out.

    I just finished reading “Writing Down the Bones” — if you’re in need of writerly inspiration, HIGHLY recommended. I can’t stop thinking about it.

  10. Lauren, you have to write about those tiny unicorns. And also I am finding a translated version of Julio Cortazar’s short stories to send to you. But for now you can start with “Letter to a young lady in Paris”, I hope you like it.
    Reading this also made me think of Roald Dahl’s biography. His life was fascinating, but at some point the author talks about his writing process and this post reminded me of that (actually I thought of you since I read that part in the actual book , so I am saving it for you).
    This has inspired me to get organized and write… maybe also some medical stuff, just for the practice,like explaining science in simple terms that everyone can understand (for example thinking of chemical reactions in terms of crowded parties and effective shocks as dancing) . I think it is something I could do well, and maybe also somehow turn it into something (teaching? magazines?)

  11. I’m really looking forward to hearing where this class takes you! I tried to avoid setting official 2014 goals, but the spirit of the new year moved me, so I’ve started waking up at 6 a.m. (with the help of a lamp on a timer), and writing 1,000 words/day in a manuscript draft I’ve been working on. So far I’ve only missed a few days, and I love seeing the words add up. We’ll see what they add up to in the end, but I really like the routine, and the 1,000 word limit makes it seem so much more do-able and sustainable. Looks like 2014 is shaping up to be a year of writing for lots of people, and I love it. MOAR WORDS FOR EVERYONE.

    1. I interviewed a bunch of published writers for my PhD – and most of them do this sort of thing – getting up early and/or setting a daily word goal. Hope it goes well for you!

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