Unlock the Muse – August 29, 2018

It’s the last official week of summer. The loosely scheduled, free-wheeling days are coming to an end, and it’s time to get back to a solid routine. This is easier for some than for others. Maybe for you summer is no different than the rest of the year. For myself, my children will go back to school. We’ve started a new round of sports activities. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.

Your writing prompt for this week:

Buy a copy of your favorite magazine and write a letter to the editor about something you read in the issue.

Whether you send it or not is up to you. But it’s a nice opportunity to practice with a short piece of writing. Write, rewrite, edit, polish. Now go do it again!

Now that you’ve perfected a short piece of writing, let’s take a look at that sometimes troublesome monster, perfectionism. There is a time and a place for that perfectionist inner editor, but writing the first draft is certainly not one of them. In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott has this to say about perfectionism:

The bottom line is that if you want to write, you get to, but you probably won’t be able to get very far if you don’t start trying to get over your perfectionism. You set out to tell a story of some sort, to tell the truth as you feel it, because something is calling you to do so. It calls you like the beckoning finger of smoke in cartoons that rises off the pie cooling on the windowsill, slides under doors and into mouse holes or into the nostrils of the sleeping man or woman in the easy chair. Then the aromatic smoke crooks its finger, and the mouse or the man or woman rises and follows, nose in the air. But some days the smoke is faint and you just have to follow it as best you can, sniffing away. Still, even on those days, you might notice how great perseverance feels. And the next day the scent may seem stronger—or it may just be that you are developing a quiet doggedness. This is priceless. Perfectionism, on the other hand, will only drive you mad.

It’s the fifth Wednesday of August, and that means it’s bonus week! I’ve decided to make a small change in my usual monthly line-up. After today, this bonus week “play time” will be a regularly scheduled feature on the fourth week each month. Bonus week will now be reserved for inspiring quotes about writing related things.

That said, here’s new game from Rory’s Story Cubes. Let’s play!


Happy writing!

Please consider sharing a link to your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask!

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