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.”

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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.

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  1. 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…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. 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.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 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??

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kate, I’m a 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, and we can look into this further for you. Make sure to mention you’re doing Writing 101.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. 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.


  5. Here’s my entry for today! Although I have thought of what to write before writing and have made a few edits, which happened to be my habit and I stopped myself all I could from editing.

    I wrote it as a short story, because that’s my comfort zone. (Well, you didn’t give any other twist today not asking us to come out of our comfort zone, so…)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Four-hundred words. One at a time. Go.” …Nice! Reminds me of what Stephen King wrote in the foreward to the uncut edition of The Stand. People would ask him how he wrote such a long, rich brick of a book, and his response was “one word at a time.”


  7. I am a foreigner and always worry about my writing, but today I posted my first blog with a little funny disclaimer : I write with the Russian accent. Worked for me and my reader :)


  8. I wonder if tyranny, or jealousy, or vengeance has a useful purpose? and if it has a purpose what is it?

    The Bing online dictionary defines tyranny as “cruelty and injustice in the exercise of power or authority over others”. However, what is cruelty and injustice? How can an act be measured in terms of whether or not it is cruel or unjust? defines cruel as “wilfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others”. Again, how much cruelty – pain- should be allowed? Pain is some contexts is good. We have heard about, “no pain, no gain” and the need “to be cruel to be kind”. An interesting insight here is who has the right to inflict cruelty and pain?

    If we consider for a moment the basic physical law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, one might perceive the use of cruelty and inflicting pain on two opposing dimensions which relies heavily on the person inflicting the pain. One dimension views cruelty and pain as inflicted by one person on another person. This is often justified as, “it’s for their own good” or “they deserve it”. A priest once told me that human beings tend to justify their actions; for example, if a woman is jealous of an attractive, talented woman, she may seethe with jealousy and express and justify the jealousy by referring to the woman as a “whore”.

    This cruel act may be unleashed to the victim directly or indirectly, such as when rumours about the “whore” spread. The effect of the direct attack has two possible reactions: the victim unleashes attack back. This may result in violence and verbal abuse. On a lighter note, the confrontation may elicit a check on one’s behaviour, arousing shame. Positively, one or both parties may become aware of the consequences of their actions: “how could I have done or said that?” If the conscience is strong, this insight brings regret, recheck and transformed behaviour (even if just slightly). The danger is if the behaviour is justified or other self-seeking dynamics exist such as vengeance.

    The second dimension where cruelty can exist is when it is self-inflicted. This can be for positive or negative outcomes. Negative outcomes stem from a flawed self-concept, such as “I don’t deserve to feel good; I am bad and need to be punished”. This can be remedied through love and requires another being to intervene and shine light on the dark and sad ideas. It is really important that the intervening being can communicate love through kind words, thoughts and actions. This will counteract the negative forces. However, cruelty for positive outcomes is a much happier state and is closely related to effort. It involves pushing oneself beyond known comfortable limits – which can induce pain – in order to produce a higher state of body or mind.

    I think I have gone over my 400 words, so let me round up now .

    Cruelty is a negative action which must be equated with a positive reaction in order to consider it a useful behaviour. When cruelty or tyranny or pain is inflicted to reinforce a negative reaction, such as when jealousy is used to damage someone’s reputation, or guilt is used to inflict self-harm, then cruelty has no useful place and there is a need to intervene a transforming light.

    No proofread. Thanks folks!


    1. This should be posted on your own blog, or kept as private writing practice — please don’t post full responses here, as it makes the comments difficult to navigate. Thanks!


  9. Before I had even read this blog, I had already written my 400+ words today. The subject? My own self-doubt about my writing abilities.

    Maybe some of you could learn something from my own discoveries of being a self-doubting writer – It feels like a weight has been lifted!

    I’m 2-3 weeks out from self-publishing my first novel & this post could not have come at a better time!


  10. idea of quitting writing came much before writing, thats called pessimist writing..
    i have been doing this since 9 years but still have not got over it…………..
    somehow i believe that i don’t write for myself i write for others & what i like will be not liked by others……..