Tiny Writing Windows

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

 

I have been playing hooky from posting. Deliberately so. There has been an expansion in other areas of my creative and professional life which has accompanied the ebb of blogging. A flow of creativity towards novel writing, setting up a new office space, writing and designing inspirational cards and just generally enjoying the glorious summer, have sprung from this brief break.

 

I took a writing class offered by SARK called Write it Now with SARK (WINS) Just phenomenal. The results with my writing and my life were amazing. I highly recommend it to anyone drawn to pen and paper (or fingers to keys).ย  The support from the community of fellow writers was wonderful. Plus the fact that you get to ask SARK questions and receive support directly from a pure laser beam of love.

 

I am writing my novel in gathered minutes I gleaned while waiting for my son at the playground or over a morning coffee. So far I have over 3000 words written all from little slivers of time that have become tiny windows into this creative journey I am on with my characters.

 

Lotus HKU 2011

Lotus HKU 2011 (Photo credit: yuen_long)

 

The beauty of stepping back from the daily commitment of blogging has been as wonderful a process as the initial process of writing publicly daily. Ultimately both have been about side-stepping the inner critics which stall the flow of words and creative ideas. This is what I learned:

 

  • Make friends with your inner saboteur;
  • Fall in love with your own words;
  • Open up to the flow of words and let yourself be surprised;
  • Appreciation launches dreams, criticism crushes them;
  • Be unfailingly devoted to the spirit of the work;
  • Be willing to set aside your own need for approval to write that which wishes to be written;
  • Give yourself permission to fail, spectacularly;
  • Every work has an audience, honour your fans by keeping the pen moving;
  • Write from the heart and write often;
  • ย Tiny pieces of time are profound moments of writing.

 

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Answering the creative call

When I sit to write I feel a curious sensation fill me. I have pondered how to describe this feeling for quite some time now. It is a combination of plunging into cold water and the weightless lift at the top of a roller coaster. There is a twin pull and push on my centre than is at once motionless, yet full of movement, full of power. This is all before words fill me, or even a topic. Some days I wait there, poised, waiting, full of this powerful feeling, yet with no clear direction.

This is likely why writing bursts and writing prompts and free writes are all so beneficial. These are all techniques to get the wheels moving, to cause flow in an otherwise still process. Although there is also great joy to be found sitting in this stillness, this moving/ not-moving place. Letting the impulse to write arrive, knock, and knock once more.

There is great trust in this process, that the creative process can become stronger by not writing, not creating, but by waiting. It is like a deeply drawn breath, nourishing and clarifying. The out breath is the creation set in motion, full and vibrant. Both energies are needed, yin and yang, just as listening is required to craft a conversation.

Tea time

 

Cakes for tea??

Cakes for tea?? (Photo credit: joanneteh_32(loving Laduree))

 

I was reminded today of how much I loved teatime as a kid. Full with tiny cups and saucers and air for tea. I still love it. Though now I use actual tea and hot water instead of imagination. Today though, I used the playtime teatime to bring my imagination to my writing. Huzzah!

 

I often wonder if we are at our most creative when we are four or five. We would be old enough to have some pithy experiences in life, but young enough to not be ‘schooled’ out of our inherent imaginative play. Perhaps creativity as an adult is only based on tapping into the imaginative youngster you used to be.

 

Writer’s fuel

 

Body Mind

Body Mind (Photo credit: DanAllison)

 

Words.

 

Words fuel writers.

 

More than that, it is the direction of creative energy through the body mind of the writer to the page (or screen). Writing ‘in the flow’ is a blissful thing. Hooking into this transcendent state is the drug that a writer joneses over when they get ‘blocked’. The process of writing, any kind of writing, is the primer for the pump to get that flow going. Writing keeps you writing.

 

Finding the freedom from having to be perfect or pleasing or any other conformity is a primary process in generating a mind that can plug into this ethereal ‘flow’. Surrendering to the process of writing in its most simple form, pen and paper, and letting go of everything else can open you and sweep you toward the page, now filled, with juicy sentences and luscious paragraphs.

 

Writing life – consistent commitment

I took a tiny break from posting, thinking that I needed some relaxation/vacation time to recharge my writing muscles. It felt like I was skipping on brushing my teeth. I have been playing around with a writer’s identity for a while now. Trying on the archetypal clothes of what I think a writer is, what they do, how they think. I realize now that anyone who is literate is a writer. Everyone has a story. I crave these remarkable tales. I am curious about who people are and where they have been, even more, where they are going.

I am a writer. It fulfills a need within me to connect and express. I can document my experiences and perspective. I now know that if I crave the stories of others, the. Others crave my stories.

The Dot and The Outsider

I read two distinctly different books this week that are the opposite ends of one spectrum. “The Outsider” by Albert Camus and “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds are, on the surface, completely unconnected, one being a short novel about a condemned man and the other a children’s story about creativity. For me, these two books hold a different gaze on the same subject, being different.

In “The Outsider”, the main character is unapologetically odd, which leads to his fate, being condemned by society. In “The Dot”, the main character is encouraged to create her original art, a dot, by a teacher, which leads to acclaim. On one end, being different is despised, on the other it is praised.

What these two books capture, in altogether contrasting mediums, is the influence of perspective in telling the story of our lives. In “The Dot”, a teacher’s praise of an early art attempt, leads the character to define herself as an artist and continue creating works of art. The teacher could have just as easily said the dot was ‘not art’ and the story would have reached a dismal conclusion. Not a typical move in a children’s book, granted. In “The Outsider”, the character is on trial, two portraits of his personality are presented to the jury. On one hand he could be an amoral, cold-blooded killer, on the other he could be a confused, weird man caught in a bad situation. The story that is believed is the one that seals his fate, but is it true?

A story can uplift, a story can kill. Words are powerful. Words are more than description of a fixed reality. Words and stories sculpt life itself. So, I wonder, what story are you telling about yourself? Is it the one you want to be true? This is the role of affirmations; they are specifically designed to counter unhelpful stories that we may have heard about ourselves. It takes a strong character to withstand a negative culture. Deliberately telling a different story about ourselves, as these two works show, can completely change our lives.

Tell a better story.

Nurturing Creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert. She rocks. I hope she always keeps writing. I hope she always lets the magic fairies that live in her walls sneeze their fairy snot all over her.

Watch. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Deliberate Insanity

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

I’m writing a novel. There. I said it. Now I have to follow through. Along with everything else. I have decided to write not just one book, but two. One novel, one non-fiction book. Before I’m 40. That gives me a year and a bit. Two drafts, one year. Hrmm.

Ok. That is not (yet) the crazy part. The crazy part is the exercise that my friend and writing mentor Samantha encouraged me to do as a way to connect to my main character. She suggested that I set aside, for a moment, working on the structure of the novel (which is essentially done anyway), and begin writing to the main character. An introduction. A discussion. Let her speak.

I did. What an odd experience. To have a character emerge from the shadows of my mind. Fully realized and feisty. It feels like deliberately choosing to have voices in your head that are from someone ‘not real’. Weird. Fun, but weird.

This character is not someone I like or would even want to meet. She is sullen, neurotic, foul. Easily angered she launched into berating me for the inexpensive journal I was writing her in. At least, for my first novel, I have a character that is demanding and loud. There is no mistaking her. Clear.

Also in the mix of impressions, of where she is taking me on this writing adventure, I got a peek of her shattered vulnerability and her wit. This will be interesting.

I have no plans for what will happen to these books once they are done. I guess the point is usually to publish. How that will happen. Who knows. First, write. Second, write. Third, write more. Then, maybe, I will figure the rest out. It is fun. Knitting with words.

Shadow and light, goodnight

I rhyme. Well, at least some of the time. At first, when I started, I found it really hard. It just took a bit of time, and now I can’t stop. ๐Ÿ˜€

Well I can of course, stop rhyming. But should I? It is surprisingly difficult to form complex rhymes that are more creative than cat, bat, hat, sat. Right now I think spontaneously in rhyme. It is weird.

The rhyming is one thing, but it is not consistent. It is stopping, starting, halting, like the wheels of a bike hitting mud. A rhythm forms and breaks, hitting the brakes I fly over the handle bars, and splat!

At this point I’m not sure if I want it to stop or start. Or just continue and hold on for the staccato ride. I do have immense compassion for Seuss; he must have had rhymes swimming through his head all day long. Fun, but difficult to have an adult-sized conversation.

Or perhaps not an affliction
More like and addiction
To the sing song of words
The love of the worlds.
The resonance
Of your consonants
Make my vowels
Wet their pants.

Ah ha hee ha ha

I’m done.

Cockney time
Goodbye rhyme.

Mmm maybe one more time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What is good writing?

What makes a writer good? What makes a written piece good? There is form, grammar, emotional content, clarity, so on. There are conventions of what makes any craft good. And there are pieces of written work that most people can agree are very, very well crafted and written. But then there are also the rule breakers and innovators that create whole new forms of expression just by following the impulse of creativity.

Even more, what is ‘good’? Who decides what good is? Publishers? Editors? Critics? The public? It seems more than a little subjective.

I get caught up sometimes in the sea of my own ego. I naturally want what I write to be good, great even. I want others to read and enjoy it. I think that is pretty normal. But I don’t want to be harshly criticized either. Who wants that? Where do you draw the line between helpful feedback and soul crushing criticism?

I think writing, all creative works really, has stages of growth. In the germination stage the work is percolating in the mind and the author is gathering information, writing drafts and testing ideas. Then is the sprout stage, where the work has taken shape and is moving along; the author is writing, rewriting and shaping, but there is more work to be done. Next is the plant stage, where the work has matured and is fully functioning, all the parts are there, it is all hanging together; most of the work is now done and the author has a pretty clear idea of what is important in the work and what is not. Finally there is the full flower, the work is complete and ready to be launched and published and polished.

I think editing and revisions, feedback and critiques, are best left until the plant stage. Jump too soon into the reviewing cycle and the creative juice can get squashed. Having spent far too much time thinking about writing than actually writing, I know how easy it is to get too far ahead of yourself, demanding that a seedling be a flower with no room for error. Creation is a process that is sensitive at the beginning. You are baring your soul and getting vulnerable. This is not a time to start asking anyone what they think. At this point, the only person that matters is you.

Later on, when the ideas and the work have matured, it might be wise to get unbiased helpful advice from a mentor or friend. Be clear about what kind of feedback you want. Are you curious about the clarity? Do you need help with grammar? What about structure and flow?

I have more questions than answers. What I do know is that I love this safe haven I have created for myself in this blog. I gave myself two rules: write from the heart; and write everyday. It has launched in me more ideas than I thought possible and I have witnessed my writing grow and develop. I seem to learn best by just doing it, just letting go of fear and starting where I am. I write.

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