Happy solstice, dear Writer.
This is the darkest time of the year, which is, of course, perfect for writing. It’s traditionally the time to be quiet and reflect on all the things we are grateful for over the past year, and to think about what we want to manifest in the upcoming year.
To honour the close of 2015 and set intentions for 2016, I will be sending my subscribers six special winter letters. They’ll come once a week, over the next six weeks.
In each letter, you’ll receive a Winter Writing Assignment that will help you reconnect with your writing practice during this dark, sparkly time of year.
This is a writing reset — a clarifying, introspective, quiet way to get in touch with who you are as a writer again. I hope you enjoy the series.
I will be doing these Winter Writing Assignments as they come out each week, too. Want to do them together?
The first one starts today. All you need is a notebook and a good pen. And ten minutes.
Have a happy and glimmering holiday,
Winter Writing Assignment 1
“This year I’m going to write a whole book on an old typewriter. I’m sick of computers and all their bleeps and updates and their terrible openness to interruptions. As I write this, I’m alone in a cabin by the sea in Scotland, and half an hour ago I typed a letter to my daughter. It was a silly note about a seal puppy and I could have sent her a text or an e-mail. But no. I am resolved. I rolled a sheet of paper into my beautiful, blue Litton Imperial, I typed a paragraph, pulled it out and signed it and folded the paper and typed an envelope and attached a stamp. In a minute I will walk down the coast to the hotel and kiss the envelope and drop it into the red box. Writing is an action, not an afterthought, it is a job of love and faith, not a sneeze, and this year I am determined to slow everything down to the careful old thump, the beat of the heart. Why are we so determined to take the effort out of everything and save time? The fun of getting it right is the joy of work. And increasingly you really want to live in that joy, establishing the spring and punch of your style, sending your readers something they might want to keep. That is how it felt writing parts of my new novel on an old typewriter and realizing everything was present.”
— Andrew O’Hagan
Set a timer for 10 minutes, and write a list of words that start with the letter B. Write by hand, in your notebook. Slow down. Give yourself permission to have fun waiting for a word to arrive, and when it does, catch it on the paper. While you wait for a word to come to you, doodle on your page and keep your hand moving, so you don’t start thinking about it too much. When a new word comes to you as a surprise, relish the feeling of having something come to you out of nowhere. Hang out in that feeling for a bit, as you write the word down. Repeat this, writing word after word in a list form, until your timer rings.