While writing in the studio on Friday, my critic began to rear her ugly head (why is my critic a woman?!) and I worked hard to overcome her. I let her have her say, I didn’t try to repress or ignore her. I gave her only 5 minutes to say everything that she could in those 5 minutes, but then I cut her off. In those 5 minutes she reminded me of my big fear of actually putting words to paper — the permanence of such an act–and being judged for those words. She then proceeded to tell me that I had nothing new to say. She then didn’t hold any punches and reminded me that there is always going to be someone smarter, better, and wittier than me…so why even try.
I then reminded myself that all the great writers say to write what you know…and so I did. And what follows is what came to mind…
I did it! I wrote for 28-days in a row — first thing in the morning. Like I said before, the public accountability certainly helped a little, but really, I just wanted to do it. I love setting small goals and accomplishing them. And a 28-day goal seemed completely do-able. And it was.
I am as you might say, a bit of a cynic at times. I thought I would do this little “exercise” 1.) to make sure that I stayed focused on something that has something to do with writing and 2.) there’s a tiny little off chance that something might come of it.
Well, put egg all over my face because those pages were magic. All 103 pages of long-form, hand-written pages. I’m glad that I didn’t do the quick math in my head on day 1 because the thought of filling 84 pages would have been too much. So, I only thought of writing three…which turned into six. And there were a few more days just like that. And as I counted my filled pages last night, I couldn’t believe that I got passed 100.
I did just as Julia recommends and so many of my first words were about how grumpy, sleepy, and inconsolably frustrated I was at our cat. But somehow as my pen kept moving words would string together to form thoughts that I didn’t know I had still swimming around up there. A lot of it was just processing my dreams. I’ve got crazy vivid dreams (which I love). But somewhere around day 19 something clicked and a story began to form. Something I have been processing in my personal life started to take shape in the form of a story — a bit of creative non-fiction (with heavy emphasis on the fiction). But stranger still is that I was developing this story with vivid images, scenes if you will. I kept bouncing from scene to scene. It felt shaky, raw…like I was standing on fishes. On day 26 the hubs had to almost pull my journal from my hands as he ran around the house frantic that I had only 10 minutes left to get ready for the day.
And that my friends is the sweet spot — getting lost in time and space because the words are pouring out. What I wouldn’t have given to just continue to sit and write for hours more.
If I am honest, I am fearful that it is just a spark, one that will not turn into a flame. However, I am somewhat afraid of that flame. And afraid that I will put it out. I want to face it and find the courage to continue this creative pursuit.
If there’s one thing that I’ve gleaned from this, it’s that these morning pages seemed to have freed me from my usual “paralysis by analysis” and that I would like to keep my hand moving.
I like everything about this idea. I’ve even thought about doing something similar. This is the power of story + people, connecting. One of the things I like most about a typewriter is that it is immediate gratification, while ironically, slowing down time. What I mean by that is that I cannot type on a typewriter near as fast as I can my computer and I have to be more deliberate because once that key pounds the page, there is no going back. No delete. No Spellcheck. Thus, it slows my process — but just like the Polaroid, I get to have it in my hot little hands immediately after I rip it out from the carriage. The words don’t just sit on a digital page, never meeting the 8.5 by 11 white space they should call home. And this guy gets that. (Oh, and how brave to engage with strangers!!!)
There is also a great little bit on the website about cyber bullying and the author’s attempt to navigate those rough waters.
I can’t believe it’s only been 11 days since I started my morning pages challenge. However, out of the other side of my mouth, I can’t believe I’ve stuck with it for 11 days! As predicted, writing in the morning is TOUGH for me. It seems that my first few words are always: sleepy. tired. grumpy. It has also served as a great place to record my dreams. They have been active and weird lately. But I’ve found a bit of a rhythm and it’s always hard to cut myself off in order to get ready for the day. Saturday morning’s pages were great because I could write as long as I wanted. I hate racing the morning clock. I have learned that it takes me about 15 to write the three pages. You would think that I could get up earlier, but it’s just not possible. But a clock does make me get right to it, spit out what I want to say. I started on the first day with an unexpected genre (or theme rather?) and I have continued building on it each day — even if it’s only one of the three pages. We’ll see if it turns into something more. For now, I’m just sticking to the plan — three pages, first thing in the morning.
P.S. So this weekend I discovered this new app that turns your photos into watercolor portraits… Umm, maybe I spent too much time playing with it!
I’m doing it! There is no putting it off any longer — I’m finally starting this new year (a month late) with a new personal challenge. Have you ever read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? My writing facilitator from years ago recommended it to me and I have continually referred back to it throughout the years. At the heart of The Artist’s Way is the practice of “Morning Pages.” Cameron suggests, no matter what your creative discipline, taking the time to fill three pages first thing in the morning is at the heart of freeing our artistic self. These words need not be taken too seriously. The three pages can be stream of consciousness, lists, feelings, thoughts…whatever is in your mind first thing in the morning.
Yes, this will be difficult for yours truly. I am NOT a morning person. At all. I am more of a write-until-my-eyes-water-at-night kind of lady. And this means waking up to allow extra time — whaaat?!! However, I want to give this an honest go. And one way to do that is with public accountability. (I can always shame myself into writing!) I figured since the new month starts on Saturday, it’s as good a time as any to start something new. (And it’s super helpful that this is the shortest month!) This practice will also be difficult because February is a month full of visitors, parties, and working 3 jobs (two day-time gigs and the studio); but I am going to commit! Who’s with me?!
original photo here
Today is Novermber 1 and it is NaNoWriMo — or rather, National Novel Writing Month. This is a community of writers committed to hammering out 50,000 words by November 30. You can track your progess, connect with other writers, and tap into their ever expanding resources. If a novel isn’t quite your thing, WordPress is doing NaBloPoMo — National Blog Posting Month. It’s simple, just do one post a day for the month of November. The format is open, the content is yours for the choosing. You can read more about it here. And the goal always is to get your pen moving! Why wait until January to start on a new goal? Go for it!
(print for purchase here)
The Salt Water Writers met again last night and pushed up against (and with) poetry. I am by no means a poet, or even a well-read one. But just like with modern art, I continue to engage and try to better understand why it is that I like something. I can’t explain why I like some poetry (and some art), but my hope is that if I continue to experience it and try to figure out what it is that I like about it, then I will be able to emulate and/or create something of my own.
It could have been the bright moon or the fact that we’re close to Halloween, but last night was decidedly strange as we were all in a peculiar (read: dark/tired/snarky) mood. One of our writers created a haunting tale of a hospital scene that was so spot on and used merely 14 words (or thereabouts). Another wrote about an inhumane practice from a foreign culture; another about the tiny wounds we inflict on one another; and another about a foggy morning and a butcher knife. Although a lot of what we created was “dark”, the
writing poetry was good — and that is still my metric for success. I love writing with these people. Maybe I should read a little E.A.Poe this weekend to continue our dark path…
[scene from the film — Blood of a Poet]