When I began writing my novel I dedicated myself to writing 2000 words per day. While I have not always met my goal (ahh if I were only the inhuman machine I believe myself to be) I do make an effort and write every day. It isn’t always easy but one thing does make the task easier. If I am not inspired to write about my novel (or current project) I don’t have to; I just have to write.
Give myself permission to write without a topic? I know the idea was shocking to me at first as well. I am a type A control freak and freedom is not always my friend. However the freedom to write off-topic can sometimes help me turn off my controlling thoughts and silence my inner critic. I always have a goal but a topic isn’t always necessary.
My goal is the 2000 words to which I dedicated myself. Some days they are 2000 words that I never want to see again. Some days those 2000 words are the gift of a new story that was waiting behind a closed door in my mind for a moment when I was not busy thinking about a deadline or a section of work that just had to be done. Either way I am building my writing habit. If you have trouble working without a topic the following exercise might help you focus.
Open a dictionary to a random page, just open the cover and flip pages until you feel like stopping. Then scan the page. The first defined word that you read will become your inspiration. Don’t cheat, the first word you see is the first word you see whether you know it or not; whether it seems inspiring or dull. Some days you will end up writing about torus (a large molding of convex protuberance) and some days dry-rot (a decay of seasoned timber caused by fungi). That word is now yours. Think about the word. How can you use it? Is the word the subject of the story? Is the word used in a line of dialogue? Now it’s time to write, put pen to paper and don’t stop until you have 1000 words.
NB. I just had a great idea for a story that was inspired by the word dry rot. I love it when inspiration strikes.
“A fungus ruined me. That sounds dramatic doesn’t it? The sort of thing you might expect to hear from a professional toenail-polish model. I’m not trying to be dramatic, just to state a fact. Equally I’m not trying to place blame. If I had lived in a moist climate I suppose I may have been ruined by something else; it was bound to happen eventually. But as it turns out it was dry rot, a simple fungal decay that caused the wood to weaken; allowing the Sheriff’s boot to plunge through the floor and the rib cage of Samuel.”