Cross My Heart and Hope to Blog
Peer pressure isn’t a bad thing if you pick your peers wisely. For the past five years, I’ve belonged to a writing group and if not for their encouragement, you wouldn’t be reading these words right now. In fact, this piece was presented to the group just last night and they made some great suggestions for improvement.
Five of us shifted into high gear to form the Thursday Night Writes blog as a vehicle for our writing. Like the teenager who listened to his friends’ pleas to prove how fast his father’s car would go, I succumbed and put the pedal to the metal. Like all who venture out on the open road, we hope to end up somewhere good, and with this blog we invite you, our readers, to come along. Let us know if we’re firing on all eight cylinders or we’re off in a ditch somewhere. Don’t worry, with all the experience we have critiquing each other, we’re finely tuned to bang out dings and dents from crashes.
We regularly face the question of why we write. Just because some unknown person out there can read it doesn’t mean that they will and if they do, it doesn’t mean they will like, understand, or profit by it.
Before anything can happen, we have to get over our fears and blocks of putting words to paper. There are bumps, if not solid jersey barriers, at every turn in the road, made up of embarrassment, shyness, and self-consciousness (thank God for spell check on that last one), and some straight sections where ambition, hubris and maybe even arrogance, accelerate unchecked with no regard to speed limits.
If we were driving real cars on this trip, we could follow some cut and dried rules of the road like the ones found in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidance documents. There are plenty of rules for writers too, but good luck making them work. For example, books and magazines for writers, as well as certain leaders of writing groups, do advocate a rule of “Set aside a time every day and sit down and write.” Yeah, well, sounds great unless you don’t have anything in mind to write. “The ideas will flow once you try.” Someone tell the Muses; they don’t always notice when a keyboard is under hand. Sitting down to write without a writing goal is to ignore that huge orange diamond “Road Closed” sign and take the turn down that dirt road anyway. A short time spinning wheels in soft sand and hot sun will leave the unprepared parched with a shriveled up creative-juice gland.
If there should be an idea knocking around in the garage between your ears …
Enough of the motorist metaphor. Next time, I will address the concept of The Blank Page. I’ve had a lot of great ideas on profound things to say about it, let’s see what happens.