Sometimes, it is just practice

a bright idea, a rush of enthusiasm…these spark you and you begin to write and then…nothing…flat…blah…halt.  a false start.  the flow is gone and you put the poem or manuscript in the bottom drawer of your file cabinet…the shame pile…more unfinished work!

what if it was just a momentary thing.  not meant to be a love affair of any note or a long term relationship.  can you accept that?  could you even shred it?

For me, these false starts are a way of moving the energy.  As a writer, especially one who writes almost daily, I am open and available to ideas that zoom in…and then often they zoom out without coming to fruition and completion.  Not every idea has to be developed.

One question to ask of yourself is…”Do I always need a product?”

Sometimes, writing is just practice to facilitate your process.  You jot down the bright ideas, but you’re already working on something that is going somewhere. When you get to a stuck place in your life’s work writing, you can get easily distracted by yet another brilliant idea.   You then get waylaid from your story that has to be told, the one that you deeply desire to complete in this lifetime.  These engaging nova star ideas that race across your mind are a way to keep the channels open while you wait for what’s next in your great work.  You follow the star–and then, it plummets.  Nothing.  Nowhere to go with it.  Oh yes, where were you with the project at hand?  Get back to it.

These fleeting ideas show me that I’m in the flow, receptive and available.  I wrote it down, followed its lead and then realized that it is going to land in the bottom drawer of my file cabinet.  Perhaps I’m going to pick it up again one day and follow it further.  Or, I’m going to shred it immediately after I write it although the temptation to keep it is there as what I’ve written so far is, to my thinking, splendid.  These little writing flings…sigh.

 

 

if you write it, will they read it?

I do write for myself first.  I admit it.  It’s my process.  As I write for myself, if it feels “right on” in some way, I then have a desire to refine and share it with others.  I can’t keep it to myself if I discover something exciting, intriguing or fun.

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Beyond writing for yourself, do you write for an audience…then, who is your audience? If you are writing a book, an essay, a poem, a trilogy, a novel or nonfiction, do you have someone in mind? By envisioning your readers, might you have a better idea of what and how your writing unfolds?

If you write it, will they read it?
A writer’s voice–it’s tone and cadence, it’s inherent poetry, the subject matter and author’s perspective–are some of the aspects of writing that gather an audience, a following of readers.  Then, there are less obvious things that make a reader choose your book off a bookshelf and take it home.  A connection that is felt…sometimes it’s the book title or cover.  A flip through the pages and a catchphrase that makes a reader curious to know more. Or it could be what you’ve written on the back cover of the book.  Or even the reviews from other authors.

I remember the slogan of a cement truck company in San Francisco from years ago “Find a need and fill it.”  That’s what writers strive to do.  Then, when all the other elements of a book are “in place,”  our audience grows up around this need and the author’s inferred promise of offering a solution.  Even if that solution is solely for the reader’s entertainment.

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Remember this scene from Field of Dreams?  If only we had such a mentor as James Earl Jones when we are procrastinating on writing or hesitant to put it out there.

 

 

 

Incubation and Looking for a Flow

Incubation:  It means literally to provide body warmth so eggs
can hatch.  For a writer, it means giving yourself the time and
space to grow to your full potential; to build strength, gain your
power and define your voice.

nest

Writers desire to be in the zone where their writing flows; they show up as the willing scribe, following where they are lead.  This is a wonderful state for a creative being.    It’s also a state that we have to, in a sense, earn.  Paying dues is something we hear about in other professions…the ice skating champion who practices endless hours to perfect his/her performance; the marathon runner who runs daily to improve stamina; the painter who paints endless hours to perfect certain techniques, etc.  While an artist or writer may appear to be born to it, they also have to practice their craft in order to capture the flow. And flows can be interrupted by many things.

Daily life has its own responsibilities and responses.  We get diverted.  We also may experience what has been termed writer’s block or dry spells.  I prefer to call these periods either incubation or the fertile void.  Within this pause in your creative expression, something is brewing.  You cannot force it.  You cannot prod, poke or otherwise push it.  The best you can do is wait with it and be attentive.  From this place, when the time is right, something is going to emerge.  Trusting your process isn’t easy at such times.

I’ve found that if you can put your creative energy into some other form, which could be rearranging your living room furniture, or planning a garden bed, even cleaning the house, things begin to move within.  The muse is never really far…she takes an occasional hiatus so that you can process and integrate in preparation for what is next.

WRITING PROMPT

What has been your experience of incubation and/or the fertile void?  Describe it in detail…this odd terrain that we’d rather circumnavigate.  How is it useful to you?