Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1 Letter a Day + 1,000 Words = A Writing Life

That's according to author Carolyn See. Her suggestion to write 1,000 words per day isn't a new one, but what I hadn't heard before was this advice: every weekday, drop a "charming note" (she's talking good old-fashioned snail mail) to one author/editor/publishing agent whose work you admire, thanking them for their piece, or touching on an aspect of their work that you appreciate. Nothing long or involved, just a light 'hello' and compliment.

She even suggests sending balloons or other small gifts in appreciation - though I don't know if I'm that brave, or eccentric - to go that far. The idea is not to 'network' or 'kiss up,' to other people in the writing community, but just to get involved so that you feel more a part of it, and in the process give other writers the support and encouragement that we all need.

And, if her and her students' experiences are the norm, there's a very good chance that those writers you idolize will write back. Carolyn's received hand-written responses from the likes of John Updike (he wrote on postcards with a typewriter, so the lines ran into one another) and Joan Didion (who suggested a wonderful but budget-crushing hotel when she learned where Carolyn was going on vacation).

What could beat a personalized note from a favorite author? Or, possibly, even more. Talk about motivation. This is a great habit I plan to get into, although five letters per week might be asking a bit much.

No comments: