Day 9 of #1000wordsofsummer 2022
Today you will write 1000 words. Because you have dreams, perhaps, of getting these words published someday. And this is the only way to make it happen. Writing your way through it. There are no shortcuts. You must write these 1000 words. To get to the other side.
Today’s guest author is one of my dearest friends, Isaac Fitzgerald, who also happens to be the author of one of this summer’s hottest books, Dirtbag, Massachusetts, which comes out in one month. Roxane Gay says it’s “full of dirtbag swagger” and it’s on best-of-summer lists from Rolling Stone, Time, Publishers Weekly, and Esquire, to name a few. He appears frequently on The Today Show talking about books and is a very good time. His charitable donation goes to Literacy Partners.
Here’s Isaac on the power of moving:
“‘Can I move? I'm better when I move.’
That line is spoken by Robert Redford playing the Sundance Kid in the academy-award-winning 1969 film, ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.’
You can watch the clip here, if you want. I do recommend it (I recommend watching the whole movie—it's one of my favorites), but it's not necessary to follow what I'm about to lay out.
What I'm trying to say is, I, too, am better when I move. Writing for me comes easier when I'm not sitting still. When I'm not in one place. When I'm moving through the world, instead of trying to force the world to come to me.
Now, I am of course familiar with that old saying, ‘Get your ass in the chair and write.’ I don't know who said it first, and it's not bad advice. The catch is, for me, if my ass has already been sitting in a chair—or on the couch, or in bed, or on a barstool—not writing, well... not much is going to come from my ass being in the chair when it is time to write.
But if I've been walking. If I've taken some time to move my body, which more importantly is about opening my mind up to the outside world, then when it comes time to write I find that the words come more easily.
So try this on for size, before you write your thousand words today, maybe take one thousand steps. Or do that yoga video you've been putting off. Or even simply meditate—which is to say allow your mind to move if you ain't so interested in movement of the body.
Or maybe it's less, ‘you ain't so interested,’ and more, ‘due to health reasons you can't.’
Writer and walker extraordinaire Garnette Cadogan once said to me, ‘I think of walking as much more than “one step in front of the other,” I think of people moving in wheelchairs as walkers. What I fundamentally mean when I say “walking” is “moving at human pace.” Moving through the world and absorbing the world in its rich detail. At human pace. At human scale."
We're all better when we move, whatever ‘move’ means to you. We're all better when we absorb the world at a ‘human pace.’
So if you have the time, get out into the world a bit today. Or simply break up your routine. Try not writing at your desk. Or write at a different time of day than you usually do. My way of doing this is to go for a walk, during which I always have a notebook stuck in my back pocket. That way, I can sit on a park bench and write. Or in a bar. Or a restaurant. Or on the beach. Or in a field. Anywhere, really. A new place to sit and scribble always helps me put words down on the page.
Which reminds me, while I have you, another bit of advice—at least something that works for me—is writing longhand. When I'm staring at a blank computer screen, the enormity of filling that screen with perfectly placed words can be overwhelming. I stop at every single mistake (there are so many) and try to correct it immediately. I can't move on from the sentence I just wrote without doing my damnedest to make it impeccable, which really just means I don't get much writing done at all. But when I start scratching a pen on a piece of paper, my spelling mistakes don't matter, my switch of tenses can be fixed later, my grammar remains horrendous, but that's ok. There's a forward movement, one word after the other. Then, when I transcribe my chicken scratch from the written page to my computer, that's when I can get some editing done. When I can start fixing my mistakes. But the words are there, thank goodness. The words are already there.
But I digress.
No matter what you decide to do, no matter how you write your words, mix it up a little bit today, that's all I ask. Move. Move through the world—or your apartment or simply your mind—as Garnette put it, ‘at a human pace.’ Then put your ass in the chair and write, wherever that chair may be.
Happy hunting. Maybe I'll see you out there.”
Good luck on this ninth day.