Exercise… the Writing Muscles

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If you want to get fit, you exercise. You lift weights, you do cardio, you eat right, etc. But what do you do to hone your Craft? How do exercise your writing muscles, so to speak? I feel like there are four ways to improve:

1-Write

2-Writing Challenges

3-Read

4-School/Lessons

One: If you never write you’ll never improve. That’s just a simple fact. So writing this blog, writing for work, actually sitting down and puttering about with an outline, whatever it is, I just need to be writing. Without that, I’m not doing anything to actually, physically make progress.

Two: I bought a book a while back, 642 Things to Write About, and I’m not sure I’d ever cracked it open. Not really. So I’m going to start adding that in as a segment for this blog. I’ll just write in it, snap a photo, and Bob’s your uncle. Post done. Brain expanded. Challenge accepted.

Three: You have to read. If you aren’t reading, you aren’t learning from others. This may come in a variety of forms for me. I’m part of a tv writer’s group, Chicks with Scripts and I’m really enjoying it. We just increased the number of writers in our group, so every couple of weeks my reading may just be the reading for the group. But I also need to be reading the Trades like Variety and Deadline to stay abreast of current information. And I need to be reading books– how else will I research a new topic or discover something interesting?

Four: I don’t have all the answers. So right now I’m getting my screenwriting certificate at UCLA. The big writing class this quarter is Genre. So I’ll be learning about the different genres (hopefully more than just what they are, because that’s a check in the old box) and coming up with movie pitches for the different genres. So that’ll be an exciting one as well.

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Will You Be My Friend?

So I’m looking at some of these ‘writing prompt’ things and many of them have you harken back to school days.  Meh.

One of the things that always sticks with me when I think of some of the friends I’ve had is people’s willingness to share.  When I moved to a new city in 5th grade one of my first friends became so when she gave me a fancy pencil. (You know the kind, they had the lovely wrappers in colorful paper) It was such a strange act that I immediately wanted to be this girl’s friend.  Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest, but the idea of sharing something like that was unbelievable.

Another time I was having a really bad day and a friend gave me their last Oreo.  This was not a guy who was skinny or the sort who shared his Oreo’s to begin with, but to give someone your last Oreo, that’s friendship.  That, to me, is altruism. He got nothing but my thanks and the knowledge that he’d made my lousy day better.  It wasn’t that he’d shared something he had plenty of, or something that he didn’t want; no, he gave up his last Oreo.  Who does that?  Has anyone else out there gotten the last of a dessert because someone else saw that you were sad?