Writing 101

A bit of a change for the next twenty days or so.

As I’m sure you know Learning from Dogs is written under WordPress. Right from the start, I took the decision to offer a daily post and am so glad I did. (This post is number 2,435!)

However, many bloggers do not subscribe to a daily publication of a post and WordPress, in an effort to encourage more bloggers to so do, have launched Writing 101.  Here’s what they sent out to those bloggers that signed up to Writing 101, as indeed did I.


Day One: Unlock the Mind

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

– Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic

On The Daily Post, we try to instill a daily blogging habit in each of our readers. We’ve gotten to know many of you — your avatars, your blogs — and are reminded each day that our community is full of many different stories and voices.

Some of you want to take your craft of writing to the next level — you might be a seasoned daily prompter ready for something more, or want to experiment with different aspects of storytelling, from considering your setting and point of view, to developing your characters and dialogue.

So welcome to Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit. In these twenty days, we’ll dive into the elements of storytelling, help you cut through writer’s block and — as Natalie Goldberg teaches — access the pure thoughts and ideas of your wild mind.

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons. Happy writing!


So apart from Sundays I shall be posting in accordance with the daily theme for the next twenty days.  On Sundays I shall revert to my usual Picture Parade.

So that’s enough of a preamble (or delaying tactic!) to today’s theme – here we go.


Just twenty minutes of free writing.

 (Time: 15:10 PDT)

Writing without thinking!

On the face of it that is an absurd notion … and yet? And yet, there is something fascinating in being totally free to let the words spill out without regard to the potential reader – I guess how one might approach writing a daily diary or journal.

Or try exploring the concept of consciousness!

It strikes me that it’s a little like those odd times when one is sitting in a passenger seat on a commercial airliner flight and one starts to ponder about what makes you and all your fellow passengers remain aloft! There is a difference however in that physics does understand the nature of lift that occurs when air flows across the upper and lower surfaces of a wing.

But consciousness!

I’m pretty sure in my guess that while the human brain is well-understood the precise process, for want of a better term, that explains consciousness is not perfectly understood. If I am wrong on that count then so be it. I hope I am not, for there is something incredibly wonderful, even ephemeral, about a conscious human wondering what it is that makes him or her that conscious human wondering just what it is that causes him or her to be that conscious person! (I sense the closeness of a circular argument appearing out of the mists of my own consciousness!)

The way the brain works in terms of thoughts and inner thoughts and even deeper subconscious thoughts is wonderful. Anyone who has had cause to use the services of a counsellor or therapist to delve into the inner workings of the mind could not fail to be in awe of the power of our brains, the way our brains are so deeply ‘wired-up’ during our formative childhood years, and the way that they conduct our behaviours during our years of adult life.

Which leads me nicely to a closing thought (my wrist-watch is telling me that my twenty minutes are up in six minutes time).

Here it is.

Writing is such a wonderful gift. Put no better than in the words of Khaled Hosseini as quoted in that opening of the Writing 101 item above. It strikes me that it is impossible to write on a regular basis without revealing a great deal about one’s own thoughts, inner thoughts and deeper subconscious thoughts.

That is why blogging is such an incredible way of making connections. Connections across countries, cultures, genders and creeds. In my years of writing this blog I feel an incredible family of friends out there.  Those that follow my humble scribblings and, in turn, those that attract my own following.

It would be wonderful to think that this new world of digital writing and the consequential sharing of the thoughts and ideas that drive our writing may one day make this world a very much better place.

And with those words, I stop.

(Time: 15:30 PDT)

4 thoughts on “Writing 101

  1. Interesting exercise, Paul, getting off to a flying start with this post. Your fire power assures interesting inputs every step of the way ahead…best wishes… Raj.

    1. Raj, that response means so much! Thank you!

      Reason is that I’m starting to realise that I may have let myself in for far more ‘creative’ writing than I normally undertake. Just hope I can stick to it and, more importantly, I can keep all my wonderful readers engaged in this ‘departure’.

  2. I think Paul when we free the mind and just let it flow we do our best writing..
    I have been pondering upon my part 3 and its just not coming together yet part one and 2 just flowed as I didn’t stop to think about it.. Just allowed my pen to flow…

    So I will be looking forward to your next 20 posts.. 🙂 Enjoy

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