Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Can’t Write? Use It To Your Advantage

painting of writer

Hello writer! Happy end of the first week of 2016!

Has your holiday hang over ended yet?

Are you void of writing ideas? Even if you have time to write, just doing a stream of conscious dump text of writing for the day makes you recoil?

I hear you.

But let’s make this clear. You’re not “blocked”. There is no such thing as being “blocked”.  Believing you’re “blocked” will only perpetuate your inability to write.  So don’t say it because you’re not. You’re a creative being that is an open conduit to a creative source. You don’t “block” anything. You want the flow of words and ideas to come. (And I place quotes on the word “blocked” because “blocked” is a highly used word that is a supposed reason for not writing. Seriously. Lose that word. Screw that word.)

But sometimes we write and write and write for days, weeks and months – and like any worker who works hard – you need a break.

Yes, every regular worker takes a vacation to step away from the daily grind and replenish their energy. That includes the writer.

If you can’t find the motivation to write because you don’t want to sit still and think for an hour or two – or even ten minutes, then don’t beat yourself up over it.  Use it. This is your time to explore the world for new ideas, for new visions and new words to express your story in ways no one else can.

Take a break, but take it with the knowledge that you’re going to return to the page.

Fill the void by reading books, seeing movies, seeing friends, traveling, sleeping, and living.  Get out of your wordy, imaginative head.

And as you do these things, try to take down notes of what you’re feeling.

View the world from the perspective of a writer. Explore the senses. How does the book you’re reading make you feel? What do you see? Smell? Taste?

Do you want your reader to feel the same when they read your work? Do you want them to feel,see, smell and taste the same way?

What does that film or that online series you’re binge watching tell you about humanity? How can you infiltrate that creative energy toward the manuscript sitting all lonely on the shelf waiting for you to return?

Allow for quiet time. (If you can!)

Meditate on why you feel stumped.

Marinate on what is stopping you from even wanting to seek out writing prompts and goals. It tends to be a deep reason that goes beyond lack of time or just not feeling it. It could just mean you’re tank is empty and it’s time to fill up with super unleaded creative gas.

Is it Fear? 

Fear is our enemy. I feel it everyday and battle it with Thor-like strength. But instead of swords, I use the mental technique of ignoring fear.

In a few weeks, and hopefully it won’t take longer than that, go back to your work. Or, go back to your exercise of daily journaling and see what you’ve got. You will likely come back refreshed with new ideas and outlook.

There is truth to the writer’s adage to always be writing. But sometimes, no matter what my personal writing gurus,  Stephen Pressfield or Elizabeth Gilbert will say, taking a break from writing after a long year of dedicated work is needed.

Letting go of writing when you are empty is part of the process.

Putting it aside, and giving it a rest (like you would do with any paying job) allows you to step back and return with a better vision.

The only thing you have to do is make a commitment to this process and know you will return to face the page to write and write and write like a “motherf&*ker”, as the phenomenal Cheryl Strayed, aka ‘Sugar”, once wrote.

You didn’t think you were getting off THAT easy, did you? Yes, take a break, but you have to keep your promise to write. If you don’t, then your story – your words – your thoughts meant to go forth will never be read or heard.

Come on, don’t do that to us! We want to read you!

Take a breath.

Now write!

 

 


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Why We Shoud Write Like MotherF**kers

floc on writingA few weeks ago, I finally saw the film “Wild”, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed starring Reese Witherspoon. The work is an account of Strayed’s solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trial after the death of her mother. The film, as well as her own story, was raw, disturbing, heart wrenching, scary and brave. Despite her struggles, both emotionally and (due to the hardships of the hike) physically, she wrote her story.

On a day like today – MONDAY – the writing demons like to prod me with their weekend talons.  Although I love to write, I struggle finding words on the first day of the week with Sunday cobwebs on my mind.

Much like Flannery O’Connor’s quote above, I do not always know what I’m thinking until I focus into the zone of creative flow, where words come from a subconscious portal in my brain.  I never really understand the impact of the work until I come back a few hours later and realize what I was trying to express.

It’s a condition I strive to find myself in everyday – despite the self doubt, the negative whispers and the tempting feeling of laziness. That trance-like place. In fact, I’m feeling it now as I write this.

In order to gain that flow, I have to show up to the desk and do the damn deed. Write like, as Cheryl Stayed has said, like a motherfucker.

Strayed wrote for a blog called The Rumpus under the nom de plume  “Sugar” where she provided advice to writers. Back in 2010, a very frustrated lady writer named Elissa wrote about how she constantly compared herself to published writers. She lamented on how difficult it was to measure up to a David Foster Wallace or anyone who published before the age of 30. She was 26 and thought she was “pathetic”, “confused”, and “scared”. So self defeating. So unnecessary.  She claimed she wrote like a girl – about lady things with no experience on life.

Pisses me off just thinking about it.

It pisses me off because I was just like Elissa, thinking you’re being so open and honest about how you think you’re a loser – when the only thing you’re doing is self fulfilling some dumb ass useless proficy.

Cheryl Strayed went straight and to the point with her reply.

Cheryl Strayed:

How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.

You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug. That you’re so bound up about writing tells me that writing is what you’re here to do. And when people are here to do that they almost always tell us something we need to hear. I want to know what you have inside you. I want to see the contours of your second beating heart.

So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.

Yours,
Sugar

Writing isn’t pretty. I hate to get all pretentious, because the following can be construed as such – – but writing is guts and toil. Writing is getting thoughts on paper even if you have nothing on your brain because life is getting in your way. Writing is putting ideas and creation down on paper or  the computer screen despite what silly comparisons you’ve made to others.

I’m not Flannery O’Connor. I’m not Cheryl Strayed. I am me.

Writing is a constant struggle of self discipline and the fight against “resistant”. Writing is war.

Show up to the fight everyday. Be a motherfucker.

The main text of Cheryl Stayed’s “Sugar” column is here.