A few years ago I read Stephen King’s On Writing, which I recommend to anyone with any passing interest in writing. King’s basic advice is this: If you want to be a good writer, you have to read a lot, and you have to write a lot.
Since then, I’ve certainly done a lot of both reading and writing—but almost entirely for the sake of academia. When dreaming about my future, I’ve always wondered how writing will play a part. Will it be my job? Hobby? Claim to fame? Some day I’d love to teach high school English, and I’ve had fantasies about what my syllabus would look like. But my ultimate lesson plan was this: The Friday 500. Every week, my students would turn in 500 words of original writing on anything they wanted. Naturally, certain parameters would keep the smart-alecks from turning in 500 words of, “I’m looking at a tree. Now at a desk. Am I at 500 words yet?” They’d need a topic, or at least a cohesive theme, and I would outlaw the word “very”. Other than that, it could be fiction or non-fiction; it could be an individual product each week or part of an all-encompassing work. For kids struggling to come up with something to write, I’d have a fishbowl filled with paper slips of ideas.
As you’ll find below and in the Archive to the right side, I kept a blog while in Oxford but quit upon returning to the States. To start again, I need some kind of purpose or challenge, one that will stretch me as a writer, but that will also be enjoyable for my readers. If I’m serious about wanting to be a writer, I need to get serious about writing.
The idea: Why don’t I be my own writing student? If theoretical 16-year-olds could turn in 500 words every week, so could I.
The catch: I need a fishbowl of ideas. I want people to enjoy reading my blog, and what better way to do that than to ask you what you want to read? I’m asking you to send me your challenge for the Friday 500. It could be a topic you want to know more about—I’ll do the necessary research and come up with 500 words on the basics of the topic. You could ask me my opinion on something (current event, book, movie, fashion fad), and I’ll give it to you. You could challenge me to a short story or personal anecdote.
Whatever you want to read, I’ll write. I promise you at least 500 words every Friday.
Leave your challenge in the comments section, or get in touch with me at melodyrowell [at] gmail.com or on Facebook. You could send this link to a few people who could have good material to throw at me. But even if I don’t hear from anyone, I’ll continue to write 500 words every week—your help will just make this much more interesting for everyone.
You can find King’s On Writing here.