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Writing 101, Day One: Unlock the Mind

Welcome to Writing 101. In this inaugural assignment, let’s loosen up and just write. We’re so excited you’ve joined us — let’s get started!

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

— Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic

On The Daily Post, we try to instill a daily blogging habit in each of our readers. We’ve gotten to know many of you — your avatars, your blogs — and are reminded each day that our community is full of many different stories and voices.

Some of you want to take your craft of writing to the next level — you might be a seasoned daily prompter ready for something more, or want to experiment with different aspects of storytelling, from considering your setting and point of view, to developing your characters and dialogue.

So, welcome to Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit. In these twenty days, we’ll dive into the elements of storytelling, help you cut through writer’s block and — as Natalie Goldberg teaches — access the pure thoughts and ideas of your wild mind.

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

Also, here’s the official Writing 101 badge for your June 2014 course (original size / small size) to display on your blog. If you need instructions, check out this image widget support page.

Happy writing!

Remember: if you choose to publish what you write today, do so on your own blog. Feel free to leave a link on The Commons, seek feedback there, or just visit to chat and make friends, but your challenge posts should go on your blog.

If you registered on Friday or over the weekend, you’ll receive your welcome email and Commons access today.

 

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    1. My blog is in German … so is it ok if I post it in German, or should I translate it – or write in English? I’m really not sure … I’ll just write and see what comes.

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      1. You should write in the language you wish to — though if you want feedback from fellow participants, you’ll probably want to write in English so they can follow along.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Zarah 🙂 I am German too, but I am writing my blog in two languages 🙂 I am not sure, so you should probably see and wait for what the Writing101-Team says but I personally do like the idea that responding posts can be in a different lanugage. I also don’t see why they shouldn’t. I mean… this is all for fun and an offer to help to create a writing habit, isn’t it?

        If you decide to write in German – would you send me the link, please? I am curious as to how that would be like 🙂

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  1. Funnily enough as a preparation to this course I followed my stream of consciousness already yesterday. I was trying to find the right way of saying what we are looking for in our arts project on “what-ifblog.net” in regard to our community. The post has been on my mind for some time. Please, have a read and let me know what you think.

    http://what-ifblog.net/2014/06/02/5-questions-that-are-important-to-us/

    Our topic is “identity” in an artistic, personal, cultural and social sense. There are so many angles to it, that I find it a challenge to reveal all the options of it. Especially since the audience I talk to is not personally known to me.
    If you like to share anything about what makes you the person you are, or how you want to develop, please, let us know. Thank you and happy blogging everybody!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how this post is so welcoming — the questions should spawn some good discussion on the site and oftentimes, getting a conversation going can be tough. You’ve offered a lot of food for thought.

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      1. Thank you, Krista, the blog has been an adventure so far.
        By the way, I follwed the blogging 201 challenge before which was very rewarding. I’ve already got a lot of good hints by The Daily Post.
        And I am continuously roaming the many posts on wordpress, gathering inspiration.

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  2. I tend to use free writing when I am stuck for ideas. Sometimes, nonsense comes out but I will nearly always find something useful in there 🙂

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    1. Sometimes, I think that when I’m stuck, it’s my internal editor getting in the way. Letting go, and letting that internal editor take a vacation, seems to help a lot.

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      1. This is the frst time I tried ti write this way..
        But this is the best hint I ever got for my writing! Thank you much for that and for this assignment! This is only the first day and I am already taking a new step! I am glad I joined this challenge.

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    2. I agree! I try to free write for 10 minutes each day, and if I’m stuck for ideas later, I look back in my journal files. 🙂

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      1. That seems useful. I’m always inpresed when I look back at my old ideas! They provide a significant amount of inspiration and if you use it right your broblem is solved!

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  3. I can’t access the commons either, I did sign up a week or so ago and again today (in case I’d done it wrong) – what should I do?

    On a separate note, I really like the tip about ‘loosening up’ – trying to be too specific and prescribed used to be the cause of writer’s block for me! Hopefully I’m a little more relaxed now and just get started with writing a post instead of thinking too much!

    Helen

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    1. It is a fine line, because perfectionism can be the enemy of creativity. But restricting what you say can also enhance the creativity (ie with prompts). However, free writing is just for yourself if you want. 🙂 Don’t try to say every little thing right, I have been there and it isn’t worth it. When you write as much as possible in every way possible, you’ll start to figure out what works for you. Just a year ago I would be miffed at what to say for a whole 20 minutes. Today, the time just flew by! Write for yourself, too not just your audience. 🙂 Hope this helps a bit.

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  4. thank you for today’s challenge, what started with writing what was on my mind developed into a personal story to which I have not yet put an end to. It felt as a relieve to be able to express some of the hidden feelings and thoughts that were on my mind and gave me inspiration to one day tell the whole story of my past. love Hadewych

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  5. Since I am building a blogging habit prior to having a blog, there is no where to publish. Not that I am complaining, the exercise itself is helpful. Any tips appreciated.

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  6. Hahahah true I completely agree but a countineous effort changed it abt me it tool me 6 years to start and still I have not written anything new just rephrase which is written already by money people

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  7. I already started free writing last week (after I read Anne Lamott’s book), I thought it might help me to find something inside, some ideas etc., and I think it works, at least on psycological level, but I don’t understand what is the point to publish such raw material? Who would want to read it? And why would I like to share it?

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    1. It could help give you inspiration later, and give some of your readers more inspiration as well. To you it might seem pointless, but remember that some people find inspiration in the wierdest places.

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    2. I don’t understand what is the point to publish such raw material?

      Publishing your free thoughts and raw material is the post twist — and totally optional. But free writing in general is so important, I think, especially when left in draft form (as I’ve noticed in my own writing: http://writingthroughthefog.com/2013/05/09/found-poetry/).

      Sometimes, though, when you publish the raw, incomplete stuff, other writers might see patterns and gems where you *don’t*. That’s the beauty of writing online and the process of workshopping material.

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  8. I signed up a couple weeks ago (and again today in case there was an error or something), but have not gotten an email to access the Commons. Thanks for your help and for setting the challenge up!

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      1. Thank You for dropping by @coinsides. That was a lovely randomness by you too! Hoping for more interaction 🙂

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      1. Gee thanks! Actually, I found it lying somewhere in my computer. Thought I used it, since it made a nice header. Size and all.

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    1. Cool — thanks for diving in and accepting the “twist” part of the challenge. As mentioned to someone above, publishing even your “raw material” and free thoughts allows other pairs of eyes to offer feedback that might be helpful — readers can often see patterns and themes and ideas that you don’t. That’s the benefit of workshopping your writing material, if you’re up for it. 🙂

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  9. somebody please help me with my problem. Actually i wanted to know if we were to write where should we post the article and the second of all what is actually the topic as i am not able to understand..

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    1. Today’s assignment is to do a free writing exercise — that means just write whatever pops into your head for a period of time. Don’t censor yourself, keep writing until your time is up. You can choose to write for 5, 10, 15 minutes or as long as you want.

      Write posts on your own blog.

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    1. No worries — there is no set length for this!

      This line popped out at me:

      I tried to set a timer for 20 minutes but I felt like on some kind of exam, and my brain stopped working.

      I’ve felt this way before — I was asked to let go and just write what came to me, and I froze.

      Then I ended up writing about why I froze, and what that felt like, even though it felt like I was babbling to myself. I ended up somehow then writing about a time when I completely blanked in the middle of a job interview, and how I don’t like being put “on the spot,” and then before I knew I’d written over 1,000 words on feeling frozen.

      Anyway, thanks for joining us! Each day, just pick and choose how you’d like to participate. There is no exam at the end of the month 🙂

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      1. Yep, I know that there was no time restriction, but as an option it completely knocked me down. 😉 Thank you for your comment, today I hope I will do better.

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  10. Hello there I’m not quite sure where I suppose to share my blog post from today is it in here or is it in the commons? anyways just in case here it is =0D “Improving the photos of your furry best friend(s)” – [http://www.k9studiophotography.com/k9blog/?p=1281]

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    1. You’re more than welcome to share your link here or in the Commons. You might get more feedback on your work in the Commons, as it’s a private blog just for challenge participants, and people might be feeling a little more comfortable there.

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