Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Day 1493: A New Challenge


I write...a lot. 

For my wonderful regular readers here at Everyday Disney, this probably isn't much of a surprise anymore. You know quite well how I am capable of rambling on for what feels like days about some Disney-oriented topic that probably didn't require a five-page explanation. Alright, so perhaps my blog posts aren't that long, but in the four years I've been writing here, I have discussed my writing more than a few times, and really, things haven't changed much. I'm still writing for Everyday Disney, as well as The Odyssey Online, multiple classes, video scripts, in a personal journal and, for the most part, anywhere else I can find a spot to jot down a few ideas or a quick story. 

But as we start a new month and as I write the first in a new series of blog posts (which I'll explain in a moment), I've decided on a new challenge for the month of February that will encourage me to actually keep up with daily blog posts, tie in my coursework with Disney in a whole new way, and will be, I believe, rather interesting.

I'm going to count every word I write in the month of February, and here's the how and why: 

As I round out my final year at St. Norbert College, I've returned to working toward a degree in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis and am enrolled in a creative writing seminar. It's more or less an extension of a fiction workshop course I took last semester, which reminded me why I love writing in the first place. This semester, we're required to write a few blog posts in addition to our regular writing exercises, which I took as a brand new challenge, figuring it would be fun to really intertwine my coursework with what I'm already doing here. 

And as for the first blog post topic? You guessed it - writing. 

When I really sat down and thought about my writing though, I realized that much of my writing style has been, at least in some way, shape or form, influenced directly by Disney or through some connection to the company. In particular, through reading Anne Lamott's bird by bird, I've noticed a few direct examples of this. 

I write like I'm directing a film. Lamott notes that, when writing, she'll frequently imagine a scene as though it were on film. What would the background look like? How would the characters be situated in the scene? What would they be wearing? What would the lighting be like? In all reality - what would it look like if it were a movie instead of words on a page? When I read this, I couldn't help but smile because thank goodness someone else does this too. Working as a videographer and photographer on the side, I'm always picturing exactly how everything would look as though I were in the Disney studios creating a storyboard to make my work into a movie. 

I also rely on the details, similar to the way Disney-Pixar so carefully creates the shadows and reflections that make films such as Finding Nemo or Cars so realistic. I do my research and ground my works in reality, even if the characters and events of my writing are completely fictional. If I'm writing a piece I want to set in Ireland, I'll search the internet until I find the exact location I'm looking for. If I'm writing a piece on a car salesman in the 1950s, I'll search out that perfect name for his wife, what suit he probably would be wearing and what car he'd be likely to drive. I'll do research to the point where, if you read my piece, you'd probably believe that I'd been to Ireland or actually lived as a 1950s car salesman in a former life (spoiler alerts: I haven't been to Europe and I'm fairly certain I wasn't a car salesman...I think). Anne Lamott discusses this too, only for her the topic is gardening, and she works to insure that her writing is as accurate as the apples that are growing on a tree in the fictional backyard, despite the fact that she has fake flowers outside her own home. 

I write with the knowledge that it won't be the final product. Mickey Mouse, as you may or may not know, wasn't Walt Disney's first hit character, meaning Mickey Mouse wasn't the first draft. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was, and he was stolen from Walt along with his workers just before the creation of the mouse we know and love today. But Oswald taught Walt important lessons, and served a purpose of his own. Our first drafts don't have to work out, because they're just paving the way for the spectacular drafts yet to come. Reminding myself that even the creators of Tangled and The Lion King probably had, as Lamott notes, "shitty first drafts," keeps me going through the day. Maybe I won't get it right in the first draft, or the second, or the third, but if I keep working at it, eventually I'll find my own Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, although, perhaps I should aim for Mickey in this metaphor.

The point here is this, because this blog post is getting much longer than anticipated - my writing is constantly evolving, but no matter how far off track I get, I'm always grounded by the habits and strategies I've picked up along the way, the most important one of which is writing a lot. As I tally up the words that make up blog posts, articles, assignments, and journal entries throughout the month of February, I'm excited to see just how much I'm writing, and to reexamine what I'm writing as time goes on, because I'm sure that, as always, it will be quite the adventure.

Expect to see more blog posts from my Creative Writing Seminar in the future. Each will be tagged with #sncEngl425 if you want to hone in on just those posts - or if you're one of my classmates and don't feel the need to listen to my sometimes lengthy spiels about Spaceship Earth.

Have a magical day!