500 words

Morning Pages

Timed Writing

500 Words

It’s all the same. All attempts to provide some structure and productivity to creativity.

At Inkygirl, Debbie Ridpath Ohi offers a word-count challenge. I balked at first.

500 words. Do I really need a gimmick to get me to write? Do I really need a regime, a routine, an edict to create?

As a writer, I shouldn’t need structure or rules to make me produce. If I’m a writer, I will write. Do painters say, I must paint for 10 minutes today. Or I have a painting schedule ?

As a writer, do I really need rules and schedules?

Yes, sadly, yes.

Because, unlike painters, dancers and others artists, I avoid what I love. I avoid writing even when writing is what I love most.

It’s perverse, and over the years I’ve filled days and journals writing too much about not writing.

There’s no shortage of get-to-it books: The Artist’s Way, The War of Art, Writing the Life Poetic, and scores of online workshops and retreats.

They are good and helpful and I always feel grateful for the boost. The trouble is the writer-high is too darn short. I fall back and away. Like my morning jog, it never feels easy.

I think it will. Every morning I run (well, a slow jog, really), I expect to feel better, go faster, have more endurance. But everyday I am just grateful to get through it. As I slog to the end, I feel a buzz of accomplishment and that’s what gets me going again the next morning.

Here's the kernel of truth stuck in my stubborn back molar: Writing is an exercise. Like my jogging, writing may never get easier but my creative muscles do get tuned and ready each time I show up. And the sense of accomplishment does always arrive at the end.

500 words. Yes! I showed up. I wrote.

It’s a routine. A schedule. A commitment. And it keeps me going.

How about you?