When I search the web for THE ANSWER, often what I want is something that, just for today, will get me thinking and writing, and the words flowing out my fingertips.
If I’m not careful, it can take several hours – and many blogs and posts – to come up with something to get the juices flowing.
Today I remembered the file where I save quotations I find that have something to say, so I don’t want to lose them.
And I found something from Justine Musk which she has graciously allowed me to reblog.The parts that spoke to me were labeled as parts 2 and 3 of her post. I recommend the whole post.
“I was having trouble starting a new section of my novel-in-progress. I told myself it was because it needed some incubation, but the truth was: I wanted the draft to be perfect, and I was overwhelming myself with everything I wanted the novel to accomplish.
Never mind the fact that it was a first draft, which is supposed to be imperfect.
Never mind that I had forgotten one of the basic laws of creativity: there is always something in the box.
This is a phrase I took from the book IMPROV WISDOM – a great little book – which warns you not to overprepare, but to pay attention to the moment, to prepare only to be surprised. The book suggests an exercise in which you close your eyes and imagine a gift-wrapped box. Imagine yourself taking the lid off the box, reaching inside and finding – what? What do you find? What do you pull out of the box?
I myself found a statue of a Chinese horse, but that’s not the point. The point is this: there’s always something in the box. Your mind will offer up its gifts. Your mind won’t let you starve.
It will feed you richly.
You only have to start.”
“If you’re anxious – and what is beneath procrastination if not anxiety – it helps to do what Eric Maisel calls hushing the mind. Sloooooow everything down. Breathe deep. Downshift those brainwaves into creative mode. When you’re in thought overwhelm, it’s way too easy to freak yourself out and go watch Real Housewives instead.
Empty your mind.
Do a brain dump on paper of all the things that are bothering you, all those pesky tasks you still need to complete. Get them out of your head. Clear that mental space for other, more creative thoughts. There’s always something in the box, but it helps to get rid of the junk.
Create a ritual that will shift you from the everyday-state into creative-state. Rituals are powerful because of the way they wire certain actions together, so that once you start one thing (just start!), you’ll move automatically into the next action, into the next action, and then suddenly you’re working on your novel. No drama. A ritual is like a willpower shortcut. You only need the willpower to do that first, simple thing – lighting a candle, or putting on a certain playlist, or tidying your desk – and the ritual will flow you through the rest.
Small actions are important, because they cannily sidestep that primitive part of your mind that senses change, or difficult task ahead, and so slams on the brakes and spins you toward some stress-relieving activity. Like shopping. You can use the power of small by setting small goals for yourself. Micro-goals. Five words of your novel everyday for thirty days. Five words? The brain laughs, but sits at the desk and meets that goal and feels the thrill of satisfaction, closing the loop, and so does it again the next day, and the next day, until three, four weeks have slipped by and sitting down at your desk to write everyday has become a habit. The principle behind this is called kaizen, the Japanese word for progress through tiny but steady improvements.
If I know you – and I don’t, except I do – there’s that book you want to write, or need to finish, but you don’t think you know how. You tell yourself it’s not the right time. You tell yourself you’ll get around to it tomorrow. You tell yourself this because if you think too much about the book, your thoughts crowd your head until you can’t think at all.
But a good friend once told me this, and I pass it on to you:
Everything you need to know is already inside you.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It does have to get out of your head, to manifest, so that you can work it, and pay attention to it, and follow where it leads.
One small act of creativity begets another small act of creativity, like links in a chain leading all the way to a finished draft.
Breathe deep. Hush your mind.
Prepare to be surprised. You don’t know what could happen, or what you could start.
So go ahead.
Open the box.”
I set Freedom for 5 hours (it’s almost 9 – it will let me off the hook at almost 2 pm, a good length of time).
I say I want to write, to focus on finishing Pride’s Children, yet I surf the web.
I know the answer now: I am looking for inspiration.
Well, I found it. That file of quotes is full of amazing things I’ve saved as I found them, most from Anu Garg (Wordsmith).
And a few from blogs.
THAT’s why we quote from great writers – because they have the way of inspiration about them.
Today, by reading that – instead of surfing – I have put myself into a writing mood, even if I need to take a nap during my time.
To block the internet, I have to block – or satisfy – the REASON I surf the internet. I found THE ANSWER – inspiration. That is why I surf. Once I am primed with great words and great purpose, once I know that being a writer, a novelist, is what I aspire to, what I want to have done as I lay dying (scary thought – but it will come), what I won’t regret doing.
I will only regret it if I DON’T do it, if I don’t make the effort: because I know I CAN do it.
It has never been easy; writers can be a tortured bunch. The writers who toss it off, quality-wise, still work at it – butt in chair – for many hours every day. I CAN compete with that – by imitating their actions. I can’t compete by wishing.
I need to find, every morning, my inspiration to start writing THAT DAY. But I can channel that great need into something that feeds it, instead of hoping that the answer will come from random searching.
Today, by blocking the internet and struggling with the words, I am that much closer to my real goals.
Have you ever tried writing poetry as a gateway into novel writing? That has worked for me in the past. As has journaling from a character’s perspective. I guess anything to get warmed up and in the right frame of mind. 🙂
Alas, poetry is even harder for me than fiction. But writing from the character’s perspective – that definitely works. And sometimes leads into the scene from that character’s pov.
My problem is more biochemical: getting the brain to a usable place. Once the neurons are firing (an iffy thing every day), it isn’t that hard to point them in the right direction. Which is why I’m taking a nap in two minutes – the synapses refuse to jump.
But when I DO get an idea for poetry inspired by the WIP, it goes into the epigraphs at the beginning of chapters. There’s a haiku at the beginning of Chapter 4 I’m rather happy with. It’s about pain.
Thanks for reminding me – I SHOULD try more.
You know what? Now I’m inspired too! Thank you for this post 🙂