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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hurdles-Recognizing the Obstacles in Your Writing

       What are your hurdles? To writing I mean. Do you have family obligations? Are you working a full time job? Giving care to a loved one? Or are there more, esoteric ones, like your mind? This last one is the biggest hurdle of all. The others already listed are basically surmountable odds. Creative scheduling, having a spouse or grandparent take care of your kids, or any “Down time,”becomes writing time.
       I wrote at night after putting my adult 'baby' to bed when I was taking care of my mother. I'd write and then get to bed around 2 a.m. Getting up around 9 a.m. to start her day. Those are the surmountable odds.
       The hurdles that are not so easy to go over, are the ones your mind puts into place. This is, as Natalie Goldberg has called, “Monkey Mind.” The internal critic we all struggle against, and yes even me. I am always getting input in from it. I just say, “Yea, I see that, but this is first draft, go away.” This years National Novel Writing Month critics favorite saying was, “This is not any good, it is crap.” To which I would reply, “It may be, but this is first draft, I can fix it later.”
     So I have developed my way of getting around them. Those internal critics, they can be defeated. How? You ask with skepticism in every look you give me. By doing warm ups, writing practices, which use the rules of writing practice that I learned from Natalie.

  1. Keep your hand moving. Do not stop, except at the end of the line, but go immediately back to the left margin and repeat.
  2. Do not edit or cross out. Just keep the pen moving (1).
  3. Go with first thoughts: much like first impressions, just write them down, and move on without doing 2, but doing 1.
  4. Go for the jugular: don't play it safe, if you think “I can't write that?” you are giving into that pesky simian.
  5. You are free to write the worst crap in the World/Universe/Galaxy. And this is my favorite of all the rules. I exemplify this rule EVERY DAY! :)

       Writing is much like any other exercise, it needs to have stretching and warm ups are the way to do it.
So try this. Here is a prompt. Use it. Use a timer, set it for 10 minutes, and have a comfy writing pen, and paper to hand. Then go to it. You may use the comment section below to post it if you wish. I'll do it with you.

“I remember....” If you get stuck, just use this prompt again.


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