01 July 2013

A New Writing Challenge: 31 Days of Letters

Writing is like breathing, it's possible to learn to do it well,
but the point is to do it no matter what.
~ Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

ll great works of art have boundaries.

For painters, it is the edge of the canvas.  For composers, the treble and bass clefs.  For dancers, the edge of the stage.  Potters, the wheel. 

And for writers, it is the edge of the blank page.

Boundaries provide context and a point of origin.  In child development, boundaries are important in providing a sense of safety and a sense of self:  I am me, and you are you, and we are here at Point A.  Take that away, blur the lines, and bad things can happen.

The Freedom to Explore
Now, where the art goes from its origin, from its home base ~ that is limited only by the artist’s imagination.  But we are not Hawaii and we don’t live in Hoovers: we must have some context in which to create, some point from which to begin.

One of the great benefits of the Blogathon was the built in structure.  As a writer, I didn’t have to think about whether I was going to write every day.  I knew I had to in order to meet my goals for the Blogathon, and yes, so that I could possibly win cool stuff.  But mostly so I could hone the daily writing habit.  I had made a commitment to not only write but to post every day for thirty freakin’ days.  And I didn’t want to disappoint my readers. 

Or myself.

Old Boundaries, New Boundaries
Now that the Blogathon is over, I know I can write every day.  I can even post every day if I want to.  But the structure itself is no longer there.  And with the boundary gone, the temptation to slack off slouches in to take its place.  What’s a writer to do?

Find a new challenge of course!

Image credit: © Laurent Renault

With all the reading material out there today, I didn’t want to blog every day.  Posting every day is draining for the writer, and overwhelming for the reader ~ neither of us can keep up!  Plus, if you posted every day all the time, you run the risk of the posts reading like a Facebook newsfeed and I really don’t think you want to know what I had for dinner last night (it was quite pathetic actually) unless it was a ten course dinner with the Queen.  So I wanted to find a challenge that forced me to write every day, but not necessarily post every day.

In my exploration of the techie debate, I came across an article that talked about cursive writing.  As an avid fan of the epistolary art form, I found it fascinating. (You can read about the article and my thoughts on it in tomorrow’s Spock vs. John Muir post.)  As a writer, I was excited.

I had found my new writing challenge!

The Challenge
The art of letter writing is, sadly, a dying one.  But like most dying arts, you can find pockets of aficionados who are doing their part in keeping it alive.  I’ve mentioned LEX before, as well as books on letter writing.  Now I want to keep it alive by doing.

A handwritten letter is much more intimate and special than an email or a phone call.  It can be re-read, pondered, wrapped with ribbon, and re-read by another generation after both the receiver and sender are long gone. 

So for the next 31 Days of July, I am committed to handwriting a letter every day.  Some I will send to living friends.  Some I will pen to “dead friends” ~ i.e. favorite authors, poets, etc.  Some will be dramatic.  Some will be comedic.  But all will be handwritten.

Whatever your new artistic challenge is, find a new boundary, and then push out from it.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Would you like to join me?  Sign up at Email me your snail mail address at mdeigh (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll send you a letter!
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