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    I’ve had many excuses lately for why I haven’t written. Some of them are pretty legitimate and some are not. For me, even the legitimate excuses are not good enough and I have been mentally beating myself up over them. There’s no reason that I can’t find time to write at least 500 words per day. It doesn’t have to be good.

    So, like C.J., I am setting a goal for myself, and that is to write at least 500 words every day, whether by hand or by keyboard. What has helped me achieve this in the past is by writing how many words I’ve written each day on a calendar. I like to look back at the end of the week and feel that I accomplished something.

    The key is to just tell your inner critic and your ridiculous excuses to shut up and JUST WRITE. C.J. leads a writing group in which she starts the evening off with three writing prompts before setting us off to write for 45 or so minutes. We either choose one, all three, or write whatever else is taking our attention. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. Once we all make a habit of writing, it’ll become a little more like breathing.

    Now, exit out of your browser and write.

    We want to know: what are your worst excuses? What works for you when you’re stumped? What are your goals?

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    Writing About Place

    When I read, I often read for fun. Sometimes, though, you get inspired by what you’re reading. I’m reading the Divergent series, and because of this, I am inspired to write about my city, Chicago, more. It is hugely prominent in the novels, and it makes me want to use it to my benefit. How do you you write about a city you live in, though, if you know it well?

    • Write about the places you don’t know. Take a journal to somewhere within your place that you aren’t yet familiar. Take notes, talk to people there, and use all of your senses in the place to describe it.
    • Listen to vernacular. How are people talking? What makes it different than how you speak? What makes it similar? Listen to voices and see how you can use them.
    • Steal. Take people’s actual dialogue, and then see how you can use it for your characters. Is there a line that you like? Is there something you like in particular that a certain person says?
    • Look at body movement. How do people use the spaces? What are they doing? How do they move?
    • Soak in the place. Sit for half an hour and just observe. Try not to think. Then, see how what you observed inspired you. Free write some.

    These are just some ideas for how to use space and place, taken from an inspiration I got when reading. How are you inspired when you read? How do you use space?

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    Promises, Promises

    Reader beware. I don’t believe I’ve managed to keep very many New Year’s resolutions. I claim very little expertise. Nevertheless, I make resolutions every year, eager for the opportunity to evaluate myself, set goals, and perhaps even to surprise myself by following through on at least one of them. Taking a moment to visualize what I want from the coming year is valuable to me, even if I fail. Last year, I pledged to write more often and to form a new writing group with a generative focus. I am happy to report I actually did both. I had other goals as well, but why dwell on what didn’t come to pass? Each year offers me a blank page of possibility.

    I resolve to do three things to support my writing life this year. First, I will write daily. Revision and editing doesn’t count for me here, though I obviously need to make time for those activities as well. Even if my writing sessions are as short as twenty minutes, I pledge to write new material every single day.

    Second, I will create that writing space I’ve been dreaming about. I have the perfect room for it. I also have the furniture. What am I waiting for?

    Finally, I will commit more energy and time to sending my work out for publication. I had a nice little streak for awhile in 2013. Then the school year started, and as usual, it swallowed me whole. One of the first things to go in the crush of my teaching load was submitting writing for publication. I plan to set aside Saturday mornings in 2014 as dedicated time for seeking publication opportunities.

    My goals are simple by design. I know myself. I am more likely to keep my resolutions if I focus on just three small ways that have the potential to make the most impact on my writing life.

    Did you set writing goals for 2014? We would love to hear about them. Perhaps a few of you will resolve to write a piece for us this year. Click on”submit” for information about the elements for the March 1st deadline. We’d be honored if you wrote something for 3Elements Review in 2014. Happy New Year!

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