WHAT TO DO (WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO)

It happens to all of us.  We are going along – everything is smooth sailing – and then something happens that brings our creative flow to a screeching halt!  It can something simple.  It can be something that knocks us to our knees.  Whatever it is, we suddenly find ourselves stuck behind that seemingly insurmountable wall known as writer’s block – it suddenly seems as if our creative muse has left the building, leaving us floundering around just trying to stay afloat.  That’s exactly where I’ve found myself for the last couple of weeks.  I just couldn’t find my inspiration.  My passion seemed to have faded away.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make sense of my ideas.  I felt lost.

It’s almost as if the “powers that be” must have been watching – knowing exactly what I needed to hear – or read, that is – because I ordered a book for an upcoming class I’m registered for, and as I sat, thumbing through the first few pages, those words I needed to hear jumped out at me:

“While I’m sure you can think of good reasons to procrastinate, I very much doubt there’s much real merit in any of them.  There is no need to wait for inspiration; no need to find your confidence; no need to know exactly why or what you’re writing; no need to read wise and thoughtful books about how to write; no need to understand your characters; no need to be sure you’re on the right track; no need even for your research to be complete.  No need now.  Later on, it will be very nice indeed to have some or all of these fine things.  You will of course eventually want inspiration and confidence and self-knowledge in your project…But every single one of these things -even the research – comes to you only in the process of writing.  They are the result of writing.  If you let any one of them immobilize you before you write, I can guarantee that a year from now you will still be waiting to begin.”  Koch goes on to say that “[s]o instead of waiting until everything is perfect, begin anyhow, anywhere, and any way.  The result probably won’t be exactly right.  It might not even be close.  So what?  You’re going to persist until you get it right” (pg 4)

~Stephen Kock, The Modern Library Writer’s   Workshop

As soon as I read those words, I got up, went to my computer, opened a new Word document, and wrote the opening paragraph for a new story idea I’d been toying around with in my mind.  In that one paragraph, I pulled together every concept I’d been taught over the course of my MA program.  I opened myself up and wrote from the heart.  And, surprisingly enough, even I thought it sounded okay.  The gratitude I felt towards Mr. Kock overwhelmed me in that moment because his wise words helped me scale the wall of whatever it was that blocked me – that made me feel like I simply couldn’t do it.  It is my sincere hope that his words will touch the heart of other writers who are going through the same thing.  Just remember – you don’t have to be perfect – you just have to start!

Happy Writing, Everyone!

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THE QUOTE THAT EXPLAINS WHY I WRITE

If asked what it is I want to accomplish with my writing, I would have to sum it by saying that my goal is to make people feel something.  That being said, I’ve got one quote in particular from author, David Foster Wallace, that says it so much better:

“We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible.  But if a piece of fiction can allow us to imaginatively identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own.  This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside.”  (qtd in Charters 1048)

I know that writing is therapeutic for me, almost as much as listening to my favorite songs, with the only difference being that those songs make me feel something, while my writing is my way of putting that feeling into words.  So, I tend to write for my heart and then worry about revising it to suit the audience expectations of my genre.  To do it any other way would render a work that lacks feeling –

 

Works Cited

Charters, Ann. “Appendix Two: The Elements of Fiction.” The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. MA: Bedford/St. Martins. 2015. pp. 1048.

 

 

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A DAY IN THE LIFE…

I like to think that I’m a writer.  But just what exactly does being a writer entail?  What’s a typical day supposed to consist of?  I guess for those lucky, successful writers, their day consists of, well, writing.  That’s how they make their living.  Then there’s the rest of us, who work hard to squeeze in time for our writing amidst all of our other daily demands.  Some of us work full-time, demanding jobs.  Some of us are in school, capturing every spare moment just to keep up with our assignments.  Regardless of the situation, one thing I can say for certain: you can’t be a writer if you don’t write.  You can talk about being a writer, but unless you carve out time to sit down and actually put words on the page, becoming one of those successful authors we all envy probably won’t be in your future.

So, just how can you fit writing into your day?  I think it’s important to schedule the time and go out of your way to keep that appointment!  I can attest first-hand that that’s not always an easy thing to do.  But like the old saying goes, nothing worthwhile is easy.  Isn’t that the understatement of the year!  So, while I’m certainly not the best at following my own advice, the routine I developed over the course of completing my Master’s degree is one I’ve done a pretty good job of following even now.  I spend a couple of hours each night shut away in my little “writing room,” where I try to write as many words as I can…or, at the very least, I try to write something.  I also use the time on those mornings when I’ve got to go to work early to sit in the dark, coffee in hand, just thinking about the next scene in my manuscript, or how I can revise an existing scene to make it better.  It’s quite nice actually.  I also find myself lost in my manuscript when I head outside for a 4-mile walk.  Just listening to my favorite music usually gets the creative juices flowing!  When all attempts fail, I give myself permission to turn my focus elsewhere to try again later.  But one thing is for sure: I always write something each and every day.

I guess there really isn’t a “typical” day in the life of a writer.  We all approach our craft in different ways.  What works for some won’t for others.  I think what matters most is that we rise up and keep trying.  Don’t quit!  Don’t give up!  By all means, write!

Happy Writing, Everyone!

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