Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weekly writing coach: 8 inspirations from the wayback machine

You don't need Mr. Peabody's wayback machine to do this week's exercise. Just dig into your files (online or otherwise) and unearth some writing from your wayback machine.  If you're like me, you save, or savor, writings you encountered in your past, and they are one great way to wake up your writing today, if only to remind yourself why you write. Look for these types of inspiration:
  1. Your first article, essay, published anything. See how far you've come.
  2. Something written and published for you and about you. Today, read it to understand how your readers of today feel when you've targeted them just right. Remember what it feels like. How can you replicate that for others? There's a 30-year-old essay written about me that makes me recalibrate every time I read it.
  3. The opening pages of a novel that set your hair on fire, or the near equivalent--the thing that made you want to keep reading. Learn from a master.
  4. A letter from someone who loves you without qualification.  Surely you've saved that.  Again, think about why it feels great.  How do you make that happen in your writing today?
  5. Something that you struggled to write, that came out right. Why did it work?
  6. Writing that woke you up to a new topic.  What turned your head and why?
  7. Something you despised.  Figure out why and what it can teach you today.
  8. Something so good, you wish you'd written it.  How can you try that?
Once you've scanned the pages of history, make a list of what you can appropriate for your writing today. How will you put your inspirations to work?  What were they?  Share your list of wayback inspired writings in the comments.

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