Stephen King wrote On Writing, a beautiful book about the writing process. It is always inspiring for me to read about how other writers put words on paper.
I want to share my ideas on writing with you, but I almost didn’t. I didn’t think I was experienced enough, or good enough. Then I remembered that while this blog is only 18 months old, I’ve been writing my whole life.
- homework assignments
- in journals and diaries
- on other blogs
- love letters to my husband and daughter
You’ve probably been writing your whole life too.
Here are a few things I’d like to say on writing …
Write until you can’t, then move. When you have writer’s block or words don’t fall onto paper, move. Many experts suggest that the way through a block is to keep writing. I disagree. When you can’t write, stop and then move. Walk, stretch, do yoga, or cartwheels and don’t have pen and paper near by. I know all of you Moleskine addicts just shivered, but the brain works in mysterious ways. If you don’t have a way to jot down ideas, your brain will deliver them on a silver platter and dare you to remember your flash of genius.
Write alone, and only write. Sometimes I write while drinking a cup of tea, or while a meal is cooking, but my best writing is when that is the only thing I’m thinking about. The magic happens when I show up and get lost in the words.
Write to feel. There are times when I put words on paper and it feels like work. Interestingly, that is never my good work. It’s when words start to move me that I know I’m onto something. Listen to yourself and trust how you feel. Oh, and if it doesn’t move someone else, it might still be your best work because it made you feel something.
Write upside down. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was a text book I used in an art school drawing class. Included is an assignment to draw a self-portrait from a photograph. You have to draw it upside down. The exercise makes your brain think differently. You have to draw shapes instead of an eye or a nose. Why not write upside down? Start at the end. Draw the conclusion and then figure out how you got there.
Write everyday. Put words on paper every day. Drop perfectionism when it comes to grammar and spelling and just spill your thoughts and ideas. Use 750words.com, a journal or even scrap paper.
Write and let go. Just because you put something on paper doesn’t mean it’s good writing for you or anyone else. Don’t get hung up on holding onto something that isn’t working. Delete or crumple and toss and start again. You will have another brilliant idea.
Write and ask for feedback. It’s ok to write privately, in fact I highly recommend it. I also think it’s important, especially if you love to write, to ask for feedback from friends or people that you trust. Take the feedback as information, not good or bad, just information to guide you moving forward. You will always be your harshest critic. If you love to write, don’t be afraid to love what you write.
And now, for your homework…
Write something about a detail of your childhood. Describe your 3rd grade lunchbox, the perfume your mom wore, or how you fell and scraped your knees running for the ice cream truck. Anything that you remember in vivid detail, write about it. Then post it on your blog if you have one to inspire your readers to do the same, or send it to me through email or in comments below, or post somewhere else publicly. If that doesn’t work for you, write it down, fold it up and sleep on it. Remember how writing what you know makes you feel.
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