Getting Back Into the Groove
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
My summer idyll is over and I’m back to that daily grind – schedules and alarm clocks and rushed, 60-minute lunch breaks. Life just shrank from an expansive shoreline dappled in warm, afternoon sunlight to an 8’x8’ cubicle cell, with dim lighting and a fan droning endlessly in the background. My to-do list is growing again, and my evenings are full of errands (grocery store, pharmacy, car wash!) and short spasm of obligatory workouts (all that wine, all that bread!).
And in the midst of it all, that nagging little angel on my shoulder devils me with the constant plea to “write, write, write!”
Today all my prompts and tools failed me. I leafed through Writers [on Writing], but all the essays I happened upon seemed irrelevant and uninspiring. I tried a bit of poetry, but Robert Browning just seemed to go on and on for pages (“Fra Lippo Lippi” has always been my poetry nadir and remains the main reason Browning never tops my list of favorites) – “the slave that holds John Baptist’s head” indeed. Then I browsed my little book of quotes, trying to tease out some starting point…but suddenly I felt l was – in Stephen Fry’s words – “more interested in the process than the product.”
In his essay, “Forget Ideas, Mr. Author. What Kind of Pen Do You Use?” Fry details the modern reader’s focus on the “how” of writing instead of the “what” or “why.”
“No matter how well-read the audience may be,” Fry explains, “when it comes to the Q&A, it is always the same. After a few polite interrogatory skirmishes for form’s sake come the only questions that matter to the reader. ‘Do you write in longhand or on a computer?’” And on and on and on the questions roll – pen or paper, PC or Mac.
These questions plague the writer more than other artists because we all share language, making reading and writing feel more accessible than – say – a sonata or still life.
“It is almost as if some people feel that they were off sick or at the dentist’s the day the rest of the class was told how to write a book, and that it isn’t fair of authors to keep the mystery to themselves,” says Fry.
Fry acknowledges that writers are just as curious about the craft of their colleagues as readers (this very blog attests to that truth). We all want to know what works, even if we aren’t necessarily interested in why. Any tip will do, and we are always waiting breathlessly for the next peek behind the curtain: should we stand at a desk like Hemingway? Write straight through the night on a Benzene high like Keroauc? Will copious amounts of vodka do the trick? Near death experiences? Sky diving?
I will admit I would have tried just about any trick or failsafe today…I couldn’t muster the nerve or the enthusiasm to write. I’d already bled out as many words as I could on my professional blogs, and I actually kind of resented the requirement that I show up here and write again.
But in the end I showed. Not because I felt inspired, but because I feel committed. And I think that is probably the biggest trick, the most obvious solution and the hardest act to complete: writing in order to write.
If we want to be writers, if we aspire to be authors, if we yearn for our stories to be told, then we must find a way to switch on that laptop or flip open that notebook and put down the words, one at a time. Let the sentences emerge; let the ideas flow.
If I could make it to the page today, you can too. Just start out with something, anything.
Even the sentence: “I don’t want to be here, but I am.”
- Are You a Mind-Centered or Spirit-Centered Writer? (thehealedwriter.com)
- AME Blog Carnival: Tips and Tricks for Writers and Authors July 9, 2012 (amarketingexpert.com)
- Knowing Your Writer’s Self (thedailycreativewriter.wordpress.com)
- Writer’s Block (teaseainc.com)
- Can’t Anyone be a Writer? (cianphelan.wordpress.com)
- The Writer Identity Epiphany (laurenashleymusings.wordpress.com)