Write 15 Minutes a Day Challenge (WFMAD) – 4th of July Edition

Today Americans celebrate the courage of the men and women of 1776 who, after a generation of frustration with British economic policies and military heavy-handedness, declared this land to be free and independent, and fought a war to make it so. Yes, I said “and women.” My newest book, INDEPENDENT DAMES: WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT THE WOMEN AND GIRLS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION examines the roles that women and girls played during the war. Please read the Declaration of Independence out loud. Read it to your kids or your partner or your cats. This document is the beginning of our promise to ourselves: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The men who wrote this document fell short of their own dreams, of course. They could not find the courage to grant freedom to people of color, or to recognize that women were equal and able partners. See my forthcoming book, CHAINS, (pub date 10/21) for my take on how the Revolution looked to a slave from Rhode Island. But the Declaration was a magnificent start. We still have lots of growing to do, as a nation, but as a very smart man said, “America is the sum of our dreams. And what binds us together, what makes us one American family, is that we stand up and fight for each other’s dreams…” What does this have to do with out writing challenge? Everything. Today’s goal: Write for fifteen minutes. Don’t judge, don’t edit (yet!), just let the words chase each other onto the page. Today’s non-fiction prompt: Write your own Declaration of Independence. Declare to yourself and the world which old, unsatisfactory notions and habits (relating to your writing) that you are freeing yourself from. Write down how your former mindset was hurting you; stifling your creativity and strangling your dream. Post some of it in the comments section, if you want. Today’s fiction prompt: Historical fiction alert! Write down a scene from the interior of the Pennsylvania State House where the men of the Continental Congress were gathered to debate the Declaration, and possibly sign it, thus committing themselves and their families and fortunes to high treason against the King. (Don’t worry about getting the historical details right (YET!). If you were to turn this into a polished piece, you would find all of those while researching.) Try to jump back and forth between the exterior action and dialog (the debate about the document and its consequences) and the interior thoughts of your main character. Today’s motivation: A lot of people died so that you and I could have the right to write and say what we want. Write for the ones who sacrificed themselves for our freedom. You can do it for fifteen minutes. Think of me while you’re eating potato salad today. Scribblescribble….
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15 Comments

  1. Posted July 4, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    May you have a GLORIOUS 4th! I’m from Canada, so our Big Day was Tuesday. But I accept the potato salad challenge, and will think of you with THANKS. My 15 minutes turned into 45 last night — love when that happens!

    • Posted July 4, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Hail Canada! Let’s strengthen the bonds between our two nations by exchanging giant vats of potato salad across the border!

  2. Posted July 4, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    The Declaration was a guiding document, and the Constitution is the contract that creates and controls our government. It is our patriotic duty to demand our political leaders follow it, even if means holding their feet to the fire when it is uncomfortable to do so.

    • Posted July 4, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Ab-so-vote-in-November-lutely!

      • Posted July 4, 2008 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        Speaking of feet to the fire: 272 minutes today, enough to finish the first act, which is the shortest but I’ll take it.

  3. Posted July 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Heard the Declaration of Independence on NPR this morning, as I do most years. You are so right. It is a document to read aloud. And remember.

    On to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which does include barbecued chicken.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I managed to get my 15 minutes in early this morning, seeing as it’s a holiday and we’ve got house guests. I will try to get in another 15 minutes before bedtime.

    Yesterday was my son’s birthday, and I explained to him that today is our country’s birthday. He thought it was really cool that his birthday was the day before our country’s. :) When he’s old enough to comprehend the Declaration of Independence, I will most definitely read it to him.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 5, 2008 at 2:03 am | Permalink

      Woohoo! 15 more minutes today. :) *yawn* Off to bed now…

  5. Posted July 4, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got some catching up to do on my novel, so fifteen minutes is miniscule compared to what I have already planned for the weekend anyway-

    Everybody have a safe and happy 4th

  6. Posted July 4, 2008 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Scribblescribbling here too.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Happy 4th!

    Just back from the bald eagle exhibit at the county zoo—they were enjoying a 4th of July snack. I’m inspired to write!

  8. Posted July 4, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Checking in…over fifteen minutes and two hundred words so far…am making more progress than I ever dreamed I would make, even though 200 words does not seem like much.

  9. Posted July 4, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Despite being Canadian, I went with the non-fiction prompt. I didn’t count it toward my fifteen minutes so I don’t know how long it took (and in fact I have to do my fifteen minutes after I type this) but I thought I would share two paragraphs. They’re unedited, unprettyfied, but I think I actually did need to say it–er, type it.

    “I will not allow my emotions to dictate my writing, and I will not allow my writing to dictate my emotions. I will allow myself to slip into a certain mood only for the duration of my work, and only to the extent that it aids my creativity, but does not damage it, or damage my own life.

    I will not be bound by fear. Writing is frightening, and I will face that. I have the power to see myself in my words without giving in to them or running away. I am strong and I am capable of writing my truth. For even in fiction, writing is personal truth.”

  10. Posted July 5, 2008 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    I’m Canadian, but happy Independence Day nonetheless!

    I made use of my fifteen minutes today by taking one of your prompts from earlier in the week and following it. I have now started the novel that I promised myself I would write in 2008. Thank you for giving me the motivation to get going on it, Laurie.

  11. Posted July 5, 2008 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    In my local newspaper this week was a poem written by a community member about the devout Christian men who founded our country. No mention of women. Or anyone who isn’t Christian (as there is a fair amount of debate over whether some of the founding fathers identified with any particular faith!). It was incredibly irritating! Thank you SO MUCH for contributing a great piece of literature to the world that explicitly points out that there were women who were absolutely integral to the formation of our country :-)

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