a guide to writing
Have you ever noticed that something you love to do takes very little effort and time seems to evaporate before you like mirage waves on the desert? Meanwhile, tasks that you’re not so eager about drag on and on and eternally on, like the distance between your body scraping across the desert and that oasis on the horizon?
But when it’s good, it’s hypnotic. Its almost like falling in love; and who doesn’t love love, for goodness sake? It feels good, it lowers your blood pressure, makes you feel lithe and alive, and boosts your endorphin levels. You love your writing, and oh, my stars and garters, your writing loves you back! It’s a total adoration fest. The words flow. Your descriptions sing. Your hand is a conduit for a genius stream of words as they spill and tumble through your mind, down your arm, to the very tips of the fingers that push your pen across the page. Each brilliant thought is a nebulous cloud of interstellar dust from which dozens of giant, dazzling stars are born. There has never been a journaler in the history of this whole watery planet who has managed to capture the essence of your subject the way you have, just now, and forever more, amen.
But when you don’t feel ‘on’ and there are pages to fill? That, mon amie, is the desert of the soul. Some might call it writer’s block, but I don’t believe in writer’s block. The only time you have said affliction is when you’re not writing.
Conversely, if you’re writing, you’re not blocked. Period. You just do it. You may not do it with enthusiasm, but just try going through the motions and before you know it, you’re not minding it so much, in fact you find that you’re actually enjoying yourself and if you let yourself be totally honest, you’re glad you forced yourself in to the fulfilling the journaling promise: just write. That’s all that’s I ask of you: just put a little effort into it.
I’ve had a painting project hanging over me for awhile now. The majority of the project is completed; now it’s just the detail work. Most people hate the painting chore; I don’t mind it. I actually find it to be a very relaxing activity that occupies my body and allows my wind to wander. At any rate, I had been putting off putting the finishing touches on my project, and finally decided to do it. I gave myself an hour to paint, “even if I don’t finish the job entirely.” I gave myself into it. I taped off the edges, stirred the paint, picked up the brush, and surrendered to the project. Before long, the hour was up, I was humming a happy little tune, and I continued to paint for a little while longer. I wrapped the project up for the day, put my tools away, and can I just tell you about the sense of satisfaction that I get each time I pass by the newly painted hall? It’s not a masterpiece, but it pleasures me to know that I create a little piece of beauty by not letting my resistance get the better of me, talk me out of doing something I promised myself that I’d do.
What do you do when you are obligated to journal and don’t much feel like it? Well, you can adjust your journaling goals and motivations, or you can break the project into bite size pieces. You don’t feel like writing? Write for ten minutes. Just write one page (I double-dog-dare you). Write about anything meaningless; what you ate, who was on the commuter train, the ten musical instruments that can make the sound of rain. If you can’t write about the big things, write about the small ones.
Write until you remember why you wanted to write in the first place and fall in love with the process. Because you never really get to that place you’re going. There is no absolute there, there – at least, no destination you can find on a map. Allow yourself to get lost in writing and let the writing remind you of who you are. Just give in to it, immerse yourself in it, let go of all the edges that you know, that you cling to, just let yourself get lost in it. I offer a double your genius back guarantee: you’ll fall in love with the place it takes you.
I love this.