Why I Write

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The second part of the statement of poetics written many years ago included the reason I write.

Of the many reasons I write, comes the desire for order.

Life is chaotic. Many things are not only out of our control, which I can live with, but happen without explanation; the lack of reasoning is challenging for me to accept.

Sometimes I write stories to understand. Therefore, I write stories to order my universe. To put life in terms I can understand.

I read a story many years ago about a child who died from cancer. How does such a precious gift leave us so soon? I wrote a fairy tale called Seeds (never published). The story could never explain or give an answer to such a sad happening, but it did give life to a little girl I never knew.

Of all the reasons you write, can you narrow it down to one or two? Share here or one of the social media accounts.

A Statement of Poetics

newyearA few months ago, I found some things I wrote years ago. Among the stories and poetry hid my statement of poetics. As a requirement for one class, we needed to construct a formal (maybe semi-formal, we were all creative writers) statement of our values as integrated into our writing. That’s the simple definition. A statement needs to include your desire for your writing, your intention.

I resisted this assignment. It’s rather challenging to label yourself, pin your writing down. However, I knew I had to do it for myself – to discover what it was I believed of my creative abilities.

One of the things from that statement stuck with me, even when I thought I’d lost it.

“If left to my own devices, I would hermatize.

I would be the strange lady in the old shanty down the street

who wanders her Munster-looking yard by moonight kicking at sticks,

overturning last fall’s leaves in search of new ideas or an old peace of mine.”

Of course, it was not my intention to hermatize; it’s a part of my personality to want to be left alone to write.

What it reminds me of is Virginia Woolf’s proclamation in A Room of One’s Own in which she surmises, we need a room of our own in which to think, write, create.

That was written 90 years ago, but the statement is truer than ever.

Given social media, television, cell phones, kids, work, responsibility and life, we are newyearmore distracted than ever! Many of us writers need to actively seek out a quiet space where we will not be hunted down and found out.

And we need to learn to pry ourselves away from those other things which are so important to us – kids, family, work – to form a little space for ourselves.

My intention for 2019 is to seek out that space and to carve out some time for myself to write.

Happy New Year, writers.

What is your intention for 2019?

 

Writer Wednesday: Can the Can’t!

cantI don’t like the word “can’t.”

I don’t like people telling me I can’t do something. I’ve experienced some person  or another throughout my whole life telling me I can’t do this or I can’t do that. For too many years, I believed them.

Now, it just annoys me.

I made a goal to write six short stories in a month. Someone, another writer, said, “You can’t do that.” Their point: writing must organically develop from inspiration, forcing it unnaturally would create work which was unpublishable.

Three of those six stories have already been published. Can’t? HA!cant2

I spend time on photography, just because I like it. Unasked, another person inserted their opinion: “You can’t do that!” They had the idea that a person can only be good at one creative pursuit and I shouldn’t waste my time on another. I took up photography for the pure joy of capturing visual beauty, but I’ve had a number of photographs published now too!

Why are people so wrapped up in “can’t”?

Some people judge themselves based on how they know you. When you change or move forward or do something they never thought you would or could, it changes how they see you and, therefore, how they see themselves.

cant1Others have limited views of what they can accomplish and, therefore, what anyone can accomplish, so they believe their guiding you away from an upcoming failure.

Whatever their reasons, never let anyone keep you from spreading your wings, doing what you want, need, must do to achieve what you want.

Writers must be brave. Depart from the naysayers and live your fullest life. Travel. Love. Experience. Write. Try something new.

Do not listen to the “can’t”!

cant3

Not Writing is Not an Option: Rethinking Writer’s Block

I’ve been under the impression that writer’s block was actually procrastination; however, someone wrote recently “whoever doesn’t believe in writer’s block has never experienced the sheer frustration it can cause.”

This, and the comments that followed, made me reconsider my position on writer’s block.

Experts state that very few people actually experience the psychological issues that cause real writer’s block. That statement, and my observations of procrastination in action, have lead me to believe that most people who say they suffer from writer’s block aren’t actually suffering from deep mental disturbances but of more common problems that plague us all – distractions.

However, the advice this person received caused me to pause:

“Drink heavily.”

“Don’t force yourself to write, it’ll come.”

These seemed the least helpful. While I know there’s a stereotype that follows artists and writers – the best ones suffer, and suffer from addiction in many forms. I doubt very seriously whether getting drunk will help the person. And, if you don’t write at all, how will anything come?

Other advice went something like this:

“Just write.”

To which one person wrote a long response about the ridiculousness of this answer. I, however, disagree. When asked by my students “what if you get stuck on a part?” I answered, I go on to a different part, or I write something else. I usually have more than one project going at the same time. I know some writers don’t do this, and I understand their reasoning. At this point, it works for me.

“Go for a walk, do yoga, meditate.”

This is actually pretty good advice. Studies show going for a walk or exercise in any form can feed creativity. Yoga is meant to calm the energy in the body so one can focus and/or meditate.

Others said, “listen to music” or “write a character study.”

This could help. While writing one novel, I listened to blues and jazz to help me give the character depth and personality.

Finally, someone asked the person who’d posted they had writer’s block and needed a solution: “What’s bothering you?”

Now, that’s a damn good question. Most of my writer’s procrastination comes when some thing is bothering me.

The person’s answer was different than I expected.

“I can’t make the story go where I want it to go.”

OOOOHHHHH!

This is a whole different type of problem. I learned writing in two ways. One method was to write a formulaic story with beginning, middle, and the end in mind. Use an outline and stick to it. And I can do this. But it’s no fun for me. The second way I learned was to just write and see where the story wants to go or needs to go. Most of my writing comes this way. It’s natural, it’s organic, it’s unforced; maybe that’s why it flows.

Think of how much power water has. Human-made streams run over their banks, create their own pathways; in one way or another, they defy the path man made. Think of how much concrete and lead it takes to build a retaining wall to create a dam, and still they must have holes or release valves. How many still end up crumbling, breaking, or overflowing?

That’s what writing should be.

Ideas and words should flow. Let them live. Trust them. Trust yourself.

If they are dammed up, forced into an unreasonable plot or direction, then I can understand that type of writer’s block.

The advice offered for that was: “write the end, and work backward,” and “move on to another scene.”

This should probably work if the plot of the story is strong and the elements are all in place. However, the person maybe be stuck because a needed plot point is absent.

Before any solutions can be offered, the type of “block” the writer is facing must be addressed.  Is it really, “I’m stuck,” or is it “I’m distracted”? If there’s a phone in front of you, and facebook, twitter, or your blog open while you’re writing – that’s probably writer’s distraction. If the writer is stuck at a plot point, at a character arc, I’d suggest to meditate on it, sleep with it, think about it until it works itself out, but I also suggest skip ahead, write another scene, write that scene/character you tell yourself you’ll never use.

See – it’s still writing. NOT WRITING IS NOT AN OPTION. No one ever got better at something by NOT doing it. No one ever finished a project by not doing it. No one ever became successful by stopping what they were doing.