The Morning Brain Dump – An Exercise In Writing

It is the start of a new year so I decided to go ahead with a project I’ve had in mind.

The key to being a good writer is to write every day. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be done. That is part of what NaNoWriMo is about, getting you into the habit of writing daily.

There is the prevailing wisdom in the writing world that your first million words are crap. Yet it is important that you write them because in doing so you become a better writer. Or it could just be that you have to get all the crap out of your head until you get to the good shtuff. I’ve written quite a few words over the years but not all of it directly with the purpose of getting better at telling a good tale. This will get me toward the goal of getting that first million words out of the way.

Anne Lamott, in her book The Artist’s Way, has an exercise that she calls the Morning Pages. The idea is that when you first roll out of bed you write three pages of whatever is rolling around in you noggin at the time. It might be the dreams you had the previous night, your shopping list, your fears and anxieties over being a bad writer – whatever.

What I’m planning to do is what I call the ‘morning brain dump’. This will be an exercise in writing and instead of just putting down whatever is in my head I’m going to try to write a continuing story. Monday through Friday I’ll get up, set the timer for twenty minutes, and write. Whatever I end up with I’ll post on the blog. I may end in the middle of a sentence. I may end on a cliffhanger, which would be good because then I’ll want to find out what happens next and have something to write about. I may have only one word, or a single sentence. As long as I have something from each session I’ll consider it a win.

This is not going to be great writing. This will probably be more Sharknado than Shakespeare. This will contain the raw unedited writing that spews forth from my fingers onto the keyboard. I don’t plan to do anything with the stories here, unless this becomes the most popular thing I write. In that case I’m going to find a way to milk it for every penny I can squeeze out of it. 🙂

I’ll be drawing inspiration from (read, liberally stealing ideas for plots) from other media – books, TV, movies, radio plays, and comics or whatever I can find. It is said that there hasn’t been anything original written since Homer hacked out the Iliad and the Odyssey. Just think of it as my part of the recycling effort. I look at this as a way to hone my craft by practicing writing. It is sort of like an artist’s sketchbook, filled with studies and experiments, not really with finished products ready for consumption.

I’ve got some characters that I don’t know what to do with, and some vague ideas for a plot line. I’ve got stories that are goofy that I don’t think will ever be ready for publication but I could still be fun in a guilty pleasure sort of way (much like Sharknado.) I can use this process to develop the characters and ideas which might eventually spin off into their own projects after they have incubated here.

And I hope to have some fun with this. Because, again, if it isn’t fun, why bother?

So, there’s the idea. Hopefully you’ll follow along and find it entertaining, either in the ‘general goofy fun’ sense, or in the ‘horrible train wreck you can’t tear your eyes away from’ sense. Or possibly both.

Let’s get started.

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