For quite a while this past year, I disappeared from this blog and kept court in another. Volunteering For Sisyphus was the combination of two ideas: First, a project I came up with where writers were given a random photo and tasked to write up to 1,000 words based on it; the second, my friend Joe’s desire to see if he could write every day for a year. With that, V4S was born! Every weekday for a year, we found pictures and wrote whatever they inspired us to write. It was excruciating at times and bliss at others. But we stuck it out and got through.
Now that it is all done, I have tried reflecting on the experience to see what came of it from my perspective. I am a full supporter of the idea that, if you want to write, do it every day…no matter how long or short, that sheer act of doing it will help to make you a better writer in the long run. That it did. It really helped me to think on my feet and look outside of the box for plot lines, things that I thought would be interesting from an audience’s perspective as well as things that would keep me creatively stimulated to see it through. While there are certainly things I wrote that I wish had never seen the light of day, there are others that I love and find inspiring. Overall, a fantastic success!
On the flip side of that, however, is the “quantity over quality” aspect of the endeavor. With a new photo coming in less than 24 hrs., it was never imperative that we fine-tune the stories and make them the best that they could be. Quite the opposite, in that it was an encouragement to get it down, get it out, and move on. This is a lot like the NaNoWriMo method of writing (which we included in our V4S days): Get out of your head and get it down on paper. Except in this instance, we never went back, ignoring the fundamental, “Writing is Re-Writing” adage. It was always bothersome to me that a lot of ideas were left half-formed due to necessity and I am a firm believer that a story isn’t something that just happens but is shaped and worked on over time. It was a struggle to move on each day and, towards the end, it almost became to much and affected the initial creative process for me. No longer did I want to create something fully formed, but started to take an easier route of just getting something down.
Overall, I feel the entire experiment was a success and is one that I am glad that Joe encouraged me to participate in. Despite some of the problems and struggles that I had with the process, I now have a year’s worth of material to go back and work on and, in the end, I am a stronger writer because of this journey.