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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Write On! by New World Library Cofounder Marc Allen

My father once gave me a great piece of advice: “If you can talk,” he said, “you can write.”

Almost all of us can talk, so almost all of us can write. Why don’t more of us do it? It’s certainly one of the most fulfilling, rewarding things we can do.

My mother once sent me a poem she had written. That’s all of her writing I have: one poem. I treasure that poem. I put it in a frame. She revealed a side of herself — a depth, an insight — I never imagined was there. It made me wish my parents had written more.

I would like to challenge you to write something. It doesn’t matter what it is. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction. An essay. A remembrance of things past. Reflections on something that interests you. A blog. Anything. I would like to challenge you to leave behind some writing for your friends and family to remember you by.

As with all other creative acts, we’ve turned writing into a big, complicated problem. We take the finest writers out of billions of people and read, study, and idolize them — and the result is that almost all of us feel, subconsciously, that we’ll never be as great as the great writers of the ages.

It may be unlikely that you’ll ever be as accomplished as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or other successful writers you can name. But I guarantee you this: Your writing is absolutely unique; no one in the world will write the creative combination of words that you do.

If you can talk, you can write. If you need help, there are courses and teachers everywhere. And there are countless great books on writing. We’ve just published one that I’ve found really helpful: Kicking In the Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts, and Quotes to Help You Break through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals by Barbara Abercrombie.

It can help you get your words on paper with simple prompts like this: “Write three sentences. They don’t have to connect. They don’t have to make sense. Just three sentences.”

Barbara suggests giving yourself “a five-minute time limit for each writing prompt.” She goes on to explain:

“If you get on a roll, you can always keep writing, of course. And if you don’t, so what? You’ve only spent five minutes on it. You can tear it up; it’s just an exercise. . . .

“The only rule is that you have to keep your pen moving for the whole five minutes, no stopping to correct what you’ve written or to think about what to write. When you do this, you get out of your own way; you let the process of writing take over. Amazing things can happen; I’ve seen novels, memoirs, and many essays get started with the five-minute exercises.”

Keep it simple. Just write about anything at all for five minutes. If you can talk, you can write. And it’s one of the most gratifying things in the world to do.


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