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Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’

On this free writing day, remember the words of author Anne Lamott: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

I want you to let it all hang out. So does writer Anne Lamott. At the risk of turning The Daily Post into an Anne Lamott fangirl blog, no one motivates me the way she does. Every time you sit down to write and think your idea is too stupid, too uninteresting, too random, or too unoriginal to be committed to the page, let Anne give you a gentle but firm nudge:

The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.

Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.

I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.

You’ll never feel so good about writing down every half-baked non-sequitur that comes out of the recesses of your lizard brain. And if you’re tempted to reply, “That’s easy for her to say, she’s a famous writer!” I give you:

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.

Four-hundred words. One at a time. Go.

Need a friendly word or helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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  1. Excited for this challenge! Thanks for the words of encouragement. I think we all get fearful of the quality of our writing, only to find ourselves not writing at all.

  2. Wow this is actually really cool, and I want to do it and be able to publish it on my blog but I’m also afraid of what my brain is going to spill out! I’m determined to try this before summer is over though! I’ll be sure to tag you in it haha thanks for the insight!
    http://www.thoutletunplugged.com

  3. I like challenges like this one. Although I’m not writing now (it’s all from 1996) I enjoy reading posts from others that aren’t perfectly thought out and seeing what you all come up with. Mine are rarely perfect but I have the excuse of being 13 at the time…

  4. I guess I wonder whether anyone would really want to read 400 words I just spilled out–my best writing seems to be stuff I’ve thought about and crafted, but this would be a great way to get past a blocked day.

  5. Day Nineteen everyone. Enjoy!

    “This crushing self-pity is all I have, and what’s sad is that I’m letting it consume me to bits, until there’s nothing left but a wandering soul, who’s chosen to leave and find a body that will accept the fact that sometimes we are all victims of circumstance, or that we’re just making up excuses and we’re constantly feeding ourselves that kind of excuse so that for once, we can feel good about ourselves.”

    http://mmariagano.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/free-writing-my-brains-out-part-2/

  6. Can anyone tell me why all of a sudden, everyone’s responses to the writing 101 course is showing up in my reader? People I don’t follow are on there, making me have to search for the people I do follow. Is anyone else having this problem? My entire reader is full of writing 101 [Private] responses. Everything people post in here on the Writing 101 site is FILLING up my reader. How do I fix this??

    1. Hi Kate, I’ve asked one of the Happiness Engineers to take a look and see whether there’s a box checked somewhere that needs to be un-checked.

    2. Hi Kate, I’m a WordPress.com staffer, and when I checked, I’m not seeing this issue in your Reader. Could it be you were viewing the “Comments I Made” tab? Please check again, and if you still are having issues with this, please shoot us an email at help@wordpress.com, and we can look into this further for you. Make sure to mention you’re doing Writing 101.

  7. Broke a few rules today. Started and stopped. Had to. I have a toddler. Went back and edited. Couldn’t help myself. I hate errors.
    Good thing these rules are meant to be broken.