Friday, October 25, 2013
The Write Stuff
When I'm not writing, I'm playing hide and go seek with myself and it creates some symptoms that tend to get worse the longer I ignore them. The first symptom is sloth. I get lazy. I don't ride my bike. I don't eat like I'm supposed to. I don't completely quit anything, I'm just not doing enough to improve. I'm not heaping on any pounds but I'm not losing either and historically this means, "What's the use anyway?" is just around the corner. Clutter begins to take over my home. I make grocery lists but I just don't know if I have the will to actually go to the store to buy the food because if I buy it, I'm obligated to cook it. Sigh.
The next symptom is decreased tolerance. I find myself reading links on Facebook that I KNOW are going to annoy me and then I remove the person who posted the link from my news feed. I become Jen the Great and Powerful in my own living room. I rant internally. I roll my eyes. I start diagnosing folks. I do a lot of arm chair quarterbacking other people's problems. Sometimes during this phase I take on a cause, like straightening out Walmart's price match policy, or I set out to debunk every inaccurate link I can find. (Snopes people, just check snopes before you post!)
If the sloth and the intolerance don't get me, the next phase will because this one sort of demands attention. This is the catastrophic meltdown phase. Sometimes this manifests in a full on fight with someone else and sometimes it's just a one-woman weepfest. At this point, I'm not even pretending to function. I'm mad, I'm wounded, and life is terrible. Sniffle, sniffle. I use a lot of absolute statements during this phase--it's always been this way, this never changes, I can't, I just can't do this...sniffle, sniffle.
So I take out my composition notebook and a good pen. I sit down with a cup of coffee and I begin confessing my sins to some blue parallel lines. I begin, "I haven't written in a while. I don't know why. Well, yes, I do. There are things I don't want to look at. There are things I don't think I'm ready to take action on. There are things about me that I don't want to face. I'm angry. I'm afraid..." And the healing begins again. I write down the BS and then I write out the truth. I discover that I am angry and it's not fair. That's the truth and it's okay. I still have to participate. I still need to contribute. I still ought to try. After I write all of this down, I know that I can do what needs to be done. I don't have to want to. I don't have to like it. I don't have to do it forever, but I need to do something today. I'm going to do something today.
If you need to do some writing to get unstuck, I have a few suggestions:
1. Write in a cheap notebook. There's entirely too much pressure when one buys a $75 leather bound journal. The kind of writing one does to get unstuck is messy. It's not a bunch of $75 deep thoughts it's a bit more barf baggish. Buy a notebook you don't mind being sick in.
2. Write fast. Write faster than the little perfectionist in your head can critique. Get rid of all the rules of grammar and punctuation. This is not an essay. This is "the plane is going down and I have five minutes to get this on paper" writing.
3. Keep the pen moving. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and keep writing no matter what. When you get stuck, write, "I am stuck. This is dumb. I don't want to do this. What is the point. I am stuck. So what. I don't care. My hand hurts but I'm going to keep writing even though I don't want to..." Eventually something is going to splash out. If you don't have a timer at hand decide to write two pages front and back. Push yourself farther than you want to go.
4. Feel free to be angry. It's okay to curse. Seriously. If you feel it, write it! Let it out. You can burn the notebook later but for now, just tell the truth! There are people growing tumors because they aren't letting their anger out--don't make yourself sick. Use your cheap notebook as your personal padded cell. Bounce off the walls. There are no rules in here.
5. If you are afraid of someone else reading your notebook put it away. Lock it in your glove box or put it in a box in the garage. Slip it under a mattress. You can find a hiding place. I believe in you. (Big Daddy used to read my journals but I don't think he does anymore. They really aren't that exciting.)
I hope this silly blog helps someone. I really do. Maybe it just helps me and that's enough. Ya'll have a good weekend and if you get stuck, get to writing! Peace, love & fountain pens!