For any of you who are writers, the best advice I can give you is: WRITE.
I give myself the same advice every single day. It’s something I learned from the best-friend-I’ve-never-met, Natalie Goldberg. For those of you who are not familiar with Natalie, she is the author of the book “Writing Down the Bones.” It is the best book on writing I have ever read (and believe me, I have a lot of favorites!). I have two copies of the book–one in a regular size and the other a mini that I keep in my purse when I go to writing conferences. Somehow, the book has always given me a little bit of extra confidence. It’s my lucky charm. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. The way Natalie writes, you feel like she is a friend, teacher and coach, all rolled into one. And her advice not only inspires you to do what you love–write–but it gives you the encouragement to believe you can do it.
So, with Natalie Goldberg as my inspiration, today I am going to give you a writing exercise. I want you to love writing. And I want you to believe you can do it.
The key to this exercise is to spend only a few minutes on it. Let the exercise warm you up before you open your work-in-progress. Maybe it will jump start a new story idea. Or maybe it will let you journal something personal. But give yourself the permission to write without judgment.
Think of an emotion. Happiness, sadness, grief, anger–choose the first one that pops into your head. Don’t think about it too much. It’s an exercise, not an assignment. No one will ever see it but you. Then create a character you would never expect to display that emotion. Is it a tiny shelter dog who exudes joy, even though its fur is matted down, and it hasn’t had a real home in years? Is it the girl who just won prom queen and has been asked to dance by the football star, but can’t stop the tears from running down her face? Write out your description. Sketch it if you want. Really picture this character. Set your imagination free and see what you can come up with.
Don’t forget to let me know how it goes!