(This post was originally written on 750words.com. It has been edited.)
Another day, another 750 words. Or rather, another 800, which I’ve managed the last few days. It’s that last push to the end. I’ve already made it to 750, why not take another 30 seconds and make it an even 800? It’s good practice. In a couple of more days, I’ll push it to 850 every day. Then, after that, 900. After I get to 1000 words of rambling every day, writing 1000 words of real writing every day won’t seem so hard. I’ve already got myself pretty trained to know what a hundred word paragraph looks like. There it is.
Well, 101. More is always better. Especially when it comes to writing. It’s always better to have more words than you need to work with because then, when you go back to cut out the bad stuff, there’s still enough good stuff to work with. That’s always been my problem. Not enough good stuff to work with. Because I’m the kind of writer that works mostly in my head. By the time stuff gets written out on paper or on screen, it’s already undergone a couple of revisions. It’s already whittled down to something I like. On paper or on screen, all I’m doing is tweaking.
Which is why 750 words is such a great exercise. It’s an exercise in gluttony. It is permission to go overboard, to wander, to indulge in oft-used and rarely used words. To write fragments. Or run-on sentences that never seem to wind down to an ending, only ramp up to the next sentence that comes afterwards, carrying the momentum to the end of the paragraph. Thinking about things that get thought about in my head, but never see the light of day. That never get spoken aloud. 750 words is permission to be a writer.
Writing on paper isn’t limiting, per se, but it’s restrained. There’s a particular way to do it. To do it right, at least. Pages always end. Pens run out of ink. Pads are big and bulky and sometimes they don’t fit in your bag. You can’t always be sure you have the right words with you because there are so many words. But when those words are pixels, they’re easier to access. I haven’t yet gone back to read my 750 words. I think I might not until I get the Phoenix. Until I hit 100 days in a row, then I might go back to the beginning.
But, right now, I’m content to just ramble. Like I’ve always said of diaries and journals, I don’t like doing it every day, but I know I should and I know I’ll enjoy the archives once I have them. That’s the funny thing: I like the archives, but not so much the making of the archives. I just want to be able to look back and read. Because I love the reading more than the writing. I’ve always been that way. My act of creating is writing, but more than that, it’s researching. It’s the putting together of ideas that the only way I know how to make manifest is through writing.
If I were a documentary filmmaker, I would put my ideas together that way. But as much as you can hide behind a camera, you still need to interact with the world, to make movies, in a way that I don’t like. That I know I can’t do. Writing is how I know to put my ideas out there. It’s why I don’t know how to publish. Because my ideas are all over the place, and sometimes they’re bigger than words, but words are all I know.
These paragraphs are getting shorter somehow. The same way my writing keeps getting shorter. I know how people malign Hemingway’s six word story, but that’s my dream. I don’t remember who said that they wished to convey in a sentence what others took a book to say. That’s what I want to. That’s why I was excited about Twitter, but it’s devolved as everything else has devolved. Especially everything else on the internet. Even Tumblr, though I still love Tumblr. I don’t know why it’s escaped. I think it’s just less connected to the community than Twitter.
Twitter is about conversations where Tumblr is about publishing. It’s easy to isolate a Tumblr from the rest of the infrastructure. Twitter, not so much. That’s what I found in those early days. All my days on Twitter, really. I was publishing, but nobody was listening, because they were all having conversations amongst themselves. I like Tumblr much better for what I want to do. I want to put my ideas out there, and it doesn’t matter if people are listening, but if they are, it’s nice. If they want to say something back, it’s nicer. But I don’t need them. I don’t need the audience. I just need the space.