Week 1: An every-day discipline

On the cover of your book write a big number ‘1’ – meaning that this is the first of many books you will fill with your writing. [Or name your computer document: Week 1 – An every-day discipline.]

On the first page write the date. In full. As in Tuesday, 18 March 2014. If you don’t date your work properly you really will be sorry later! It’s great to also record whereabouts you are, or any particular happening. E.g. ‘Bainskloof Cottage’ or ‘Uncle John died today’. (It’s always helpful to fully date your writing, whether it’s a dairy, a letter, a bit of creative writing, an article, or notes of a talk. You will forget very easily.)

The next thing to drum into your head is that Writers WRITE! Writers write, write, write everyday something.

In a writing book such as this new one of yours you can record the events of your life, personal breakthroughs, insights, story ideas, affirmations from others, historic events, quotable quotes that grab your attention, new words you discover … the sky’s the limit. So long as you keep writing, every day something, your appetite and perseverance will grow as you go.

Start off with what you have –  your life and feelings as they are at the moment. Those are concrete things.

Following are seven ideas. Do your best to write every day, or at least try to accomplish five in a week. Each day re-read the above preamble, then follow the suggestions (in order),  always including the date! (If you find these exercises too elementary then go on reading my material until you reach the level that suits you. The exercises attempt to get you writing regularly but also to develop your style. If you are busy on a project already apply the style prompts to that.)

 Day 1:  In at least 12 lines record the main events of the day. Use the 5W&H questions as a guide: What? Where? When? Who? Why? And How?

Day 2: First write as many synonyms (words of similar meaning) as possible for the verbs ‘write’ and ‘work’. After re-reading the preamble record your day, using the 5W&H questions, and also paying attention to the verbs you use for the action. Make them as specific to your meaning as possible. E.g. ‘I ambled along the avenue’ says much more than ‘I walked down the road’.

Day 3: To start with write down synonyms for ‘walk’. Then, when you record your day (using 5W&H and strong verbs) try to write more description of the ‘who’ and ‘where’ of your story.

Day 4: Write down synonyms for ‘happy’ and ‘sad’. And in your record of the day describe what you most enjoyed and what you found difficult or challenging. 

Day 5: Write down some words to describe wind, sunshine, rain, e.g. raging wind, gentle sunshine, torrential rain. Then, as  part of your record describe what the weather was like today and how you related to it practically and in your feelings.

Day 6: Write your ever more-thought-about daily record, then describe your feelings about what has happened in the week. And how you feel about your writing. Be honest.

Day 7: Read through all you’ve written in the past week. Then think about this, from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “I could inform the dullest author how he might write an interesting book: let him relate the events of his own life with honesty, not disguising the feelings that accompanied them.”