Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Exercising the Mind and the Pen

Back in December, I discovered a wonderful site called “750 Words”. The whole premise of this site is to get people to write on a daily basis, preferably 750 words or more a day. You can read the whole story about the creation of the site on the site's home page (click the link above). And I thought it was a great idea, so I signed up for it (and it's free). Everyday you are given a blank white page in order to write whatever you want, and the site saves your writing automatically. You also get special points and badges for achieving certain goals and whatnot, but the important part is getting yourself writing. For the month of December, I did pretty well. I wrote an entry most of the days and most of the time meeting or surpassing the daily word goal. So I decided to enter the site's monthly challenge of writing 750 words (or more) every day for the entire month. If I "win," my name is placed on the "Wall of Awesome." But if I miss a day or daily word goal, my name is added to the "Wall of Shame" and it cannot be removed until I succeed on another month's challenge. I'm doing pretty good so far and am keeping myself motivated to write daily. I use the site like a journal to take down notes, story ideas, daily events, my blog entries...and now my new writing exercises!

You see, the other day I went to Half-Price Books with my family and I found these two interesting "writing reference" books. They are "The Daily Writer" and "The Daily Reader" by Fred White. Each book has an entry for every day of the year having to do with writing topics/ideas (former book) or short excerpts from books/poems/stories to read (latter book) followed by a writing exercise of sorts. I've only done the first few "daily assignments," but so far they seem to be interesting and useful. So now I’m toying around with the idea of using these “exercise entries” on my blog. I mean, they’re already helping me with my “write more” resolution…why couldn’t they do some double duty and help me with my “blog more” resolution? I’ll see how it works and how well I keep up with actually doing them. I have several other books and know of several writing sites that have exercises in them, but for some reason or another I have never been able to focus on exercise topic long enough to write something. In the past, they have always sounded interesting and/or started my brain thinking, but most of the time I would always forget or get distracted whenever I tried to write anything down (except for in the few writing classes I've taken). But I guess I'm willing to try them again since my perspective on writing and urge to write have slowly been changing. Now I know I need to just order to get my brain-juices flowing and to help me learn to finish things! Plus, practice makes "perfect" they say. So onto today's writing exercise from "The Daily Writer"...

January 5th -- Reverence for Books and Reading
"Think back to a childhood experience with one special book. How did it affect you? Which characters were the most memorable? What did you learn? What long-term influence has it had on your life?"

Hmm...the only book I can think of at this moment is a book called "The True Princess" by Angela Elwell Hunt. It was a beautifully illustrated book done in rich and bright colors that spoke to me visually. (It's one of the reasons I took up drawing and painting (along with my writing obsession) as a kid.) And the book was a fairy tale like story, so it appealed to my love of fantasy stories as well. The story was about a princess who had to go "uncover" as a baker's granddaughter while her father (the King) went off on some journey or something. Then when he came back several years later, she had to prove that she was the real princess along with all the other girls in the kingdom who were pretending to be the princess. I won't give away the ending, but it was a heart warming tale that taught a moral about family and love and being true to yourself. I read the book as a child and I understood the message behind the main story, but I mostly enjoyed the pretty pictures and the fairy tale atmosphere of the book. The character that I remember the most from the book is actually the princess' nanny who pretends to be her grandmother or something while they live at the bakery, teaching the girl how to be "normal" and keeping her safe. The nanny always reminded me of my own grandmother who was a little silly and loved working in her kitchen cooking things. I don't know where exactly the book is now since most of my childhood possessions are packed away in boxes in my closet or attic, but I know I still have it. I plan on reading that book to my future children and I hope they enjoy it as much as I did when I was young.

What about you? What's a special book from your childhood? Do you still have that book?

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