How many pieces of unfinished writing do you have filling up your hard-drive? Don’t get me wrong, I love flipping through My Documents to find snippets of prose that I forgot existed. I think I’d be happier, though, to find these snippets put together, as a part of something on my bookshelf.

This isn’t self-publishing advice, but instead a call to combine your crafty urges with your own writing. Making little books or ‘zines that you can look at lovingly or give to others may bring new life to your creativity. So those writing projects that you started after my last post? Why not add some pictures, print it out, and make a ‘zine (or awesome e-book like Julie did)?

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In short, a ‘zine is a small, self-made publication. It may involve anything from photocopied found-objects to multiple writers to a fanfiction story. ‘Zines have been central to many subcultures, including punk rock, science fiction fandom, and the Riot Grrrl feminism of the ’90s. A network of zinesters formed within these movements, members trading their ‘zines all over the world via snailmail. Today, our design-savvy generation has taken ‘zines online and in the direction of artist’s books. Where will yours go?

My boyfriend B and I have a million little [weirdo] projects going at once. For Christmas, I gave him the little book that inspired this blog post: “Eyelashes.” The book is a series of stories rooted in a fairy tale that B and I made up about a world in which eyelashes are stolen from children and sold. In the paragraph-long story that we scrawled out in bed, a little boy’s lashes are stolen, and years later he falls in love with the girl who was given them as a present.

In the two weeks before Christmas, I wrote every morning, developing the story, inventing characters, and taking them to places B and I hang out. I wove together non-fiction and magical realism, forgetting that I was writing a “cute little project,” instead just writing. Days before Christmas, I went to the craft store and bought nice paper and a soft green rectangular box. I printed the document and bound the pages with a stapler. I glue-gunned on a glossy gold cover featuring a photo of B’s lashes that I had him take for me.

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My cutesy writing project, and the idea that I had to finish and print it, spurred a week or two of very focused writing. Whether the “finished” piece has any relevance to anyone outside of our relationship doesn’t matter to me. But if I wanted to share the project with others, I could. I could print more and distribute them to friends or indie bookstores that have ‘zine sections. Or, I could design another project, maybe for another friend, write away for a couple of weeks, and have something new. Sounds like momentum to me. Just what my writing life was lacking.

While ‘zines are central to some contemporary writers, others feel they don’t quite mesh with goals of being a “real writer.” My advice? Just get over it and make something.

Here’s your homework for this week:

  1. Find all those old fragments of unfinished writing that you really like.
  2. Find the common thread and develop it further.
  3. Get crafty and put your book together. If you need it, here’s some help from Pinterest.
  4. Share your ‘zine with the world (if you want to)!

Your project could be photo-copied b&w and stapled, or a real art book, both beautifully written and beautifully bound. Oh! And when you’re done, be sure snap some photos and send them on over!

Have you ever made a printed ‘zine or book from your own work? Do you think it would help your creative process? Do you work with end goals in mind? Share with us :)

Struggling to find ideas for your work? Check out our free e-book, “A Year of Inspiration: 52 Writing Prompts from the Renegade Word.”