Presents of Mind

On good days the Muse brings me "presents" for my writer's mind to play with. But those days are rare.

Provocations for Those Blah Writing Days

I’m leery of getting or giving any kind of advice, but sometimes, when confidence is lagging, it helps to keep a list of simple things to piss off that inner Grand Inquisitor that tells you that you can’t finish that project and who the hell are you for trying? Use this one or make your own list in a writer’s notebook. Collect provocations. Keep adding to them. Experiment with things that make sense, draw flow charts, throw darts, bake a cake, go fishing, whatever works. I listed ten provocations here.  Why 10 things? Something about the Arabic idea of numeric completion? I don’t know, because really, the list could be endless. But here are ten. Return to your list often and never give up.

1. WRITE ALL THE TIME

No matter where you are, write, even if it’s total shit. Just keep writing.griddy

2. READ WIDELY AND DEEPLY

Reading fuels writing. Read poems/stories/novels first like a reader, for content and entertainment. Then read them again like a writer to study the craft, to copy beautiful language into your notebook, to teach yourself about rhythm, voice, and anything that it has to offer.

3. WRITE WHATEVER YOU DAMN WELL WANT TO WRITE

Forget writing to please others or what you think they want or expect. Don’t let other people’s opinions shape those first drafts. Those are for you only.

4. COLLECT WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR  NOTEBOOK

What lights a fire in you? Whatever it is, keep it close, let it work inside your dreams and visions, because that’s where fiction is born. Write what happens in your life every day. For practice, choose one incident per day and write it as a vignette: Include details, dialogue, characters. Give it a beginning, middle and end, as if it were a short story or scene in a novel. Who knows? A novel might emerge.

5. DON’T GET IT RIGHT, GET IT DOWN

If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t a writer. Whatever you’re going through, use it. Get it out. Things get cleaned up and made right later.

6. MOVE YOUR BODY

Dance, get outside, walk, ride a bike, toss a frisbee, play, watch people and listen to them. Move through the world and feel it on your skin. Fill your senses and breathe and laugh. Then return with a clearer mind.

7. LISTEN TO MUSIC

Whatever you love, but music without lyrics is less distracting and will influence your writing in ways you can’t imagine.

8. DON’T ENTER CONTESTS

Just don’t. They aren’t good for you.  Better to ignore what other people are doing. When you compare yourself to others you can get discouraged and feel inadequate.

9. DO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER OR DO YOU WANT TO WRITE?

There’s a difference. Fame and fortune are seductive, but art is the business of the human soul. Be careful that you don’t confuse the two.

10. TRUST YOURSELF

There’s so much noise and distraction around us we forget that creativity comes from the silence inside our own beings. Learn how to trust being alone with that silence.

marie-pm

5 comments on “Provocations for Those Blah Writing Days

  1. The Girl in Trousers
    May 2, 2014

    Love number 9. Thanks for the reminder.

    • inkandpages
      May 2, 2014

      I do too. I’ve read about its magical properties :)

  2. writingtutortips
    April 29, 2014

    Great post! I really like the idea of reading things once as a reader and then again as a writer. I definitely believe that reading well can make you a better writer. I recently wrote a blog post about it: http://writingtutortips.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/good-writers-are-good-readers/

  3. Kate's Bookshelf
    April 29, 2014

    Really nice list. I am forever not doing number one. I tend to ‘think’ more about writing than actually accomplishing it. (I call it writing in my head, but rarely get it down) I really should write more. Every day or every other day would be good.

    • inkandpages
      April 29, 2014

      Right? Seems like writing is last on the “to do” list when I know it belongs in first place. I can’t write in my head, either, which is even more a reason to sit down and get my thoughts out (sometimes my head feels totally blank, too, but writing anything at all is a real accomplishment for me on any day).

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2014 by in Writing and tagged , .
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