The Pen is Mightier…

Writers, keep drama on the page! Writing it all down diffuses the bomb and clears up the minefields.
Photo by A.Davey via Flickr

Slay Those Dragons And Kill That Drama By Keeping It All On The Page*

Oh, what a week it’s been!  Broken promises.  Blooming friendships.  Betrayal. Passion. Revenge.

And I’m not even talking about the last episode of Game of Thrones.

The truth is, sometimes life can get in the way of your creative goals and endeavors.  It’s hard to sit down and write when arguments and expectations are whirling in your head, battling for attention.  It’s even worse when the ones you love drag you onto to their stage, shove a tin sword in your hand and push you out to challenge their dragons.

“I have learned through bitter experience that if I start engaging in personal dramas,” says Julia Cameron in The Right to Write, “I will be too tired, too distracted, too distraught to write – and I cannot afford that.”

When the Sturm-and-Drang of life threatens to morph into a whirlpool powerful enough to suck the pen and notebook (or trusty laptop) right out of your hands, you must pull back with all your might.  Of course, it’s not always a powerful whirlpool pushing you away from the desk, the table top, the keyboard.  Sometimes the sabotage is a bit more…subtle: The dubious commentary of a coworker (“long lunch, huh?”), your next-door neighbor’s possible eviction (furniture on the sidewalk, patrol car in the driveway – I actually saw this over the weekend), unexpected weather (why is it so windy?!), even running out of cat food.  The disruption…the chaos…the disorder.

As odd as it sounds, when the going gets tough, and the shit hits the fan the best tool you have is not denial or Kung Fu prowess…it’s your writing.

Get thee to the page and write it all down.  As Julia Cameron points out, drama is best left to computer screens and loose-leaf notebooks.

“For a writer, personal drama is a drink of creative poison, “ warns Cameron.  “For a writer, the willing engagement in power struggles is an act of active, creative sabotage.”

The more you disengage from the heightened tension and manufactured drama around you, the less addicted you’ll become to jumping into the fray.  The rush of adrenaline you get from unnecessary complication and confrontations will slowly morph so that it no longer feels like fuel for the fight and instead will agitate you with the sting and zing of an unexpected electrical charge; like when static builds up and bites your hand while you’re folding laundry or shuffling across a shag carpet in wool socks.

Writing it all down diffuses the bomb and clears up the minefields.

And I promise it’ll make you feel better.

“Keeping the drama on the page is ruthless, enlightened, self-interest.  It is a practice of creative self-containment,” declares Cameron, along with the warning, “I refuse to engage in any drama except the drama that serves me and my purposes.  I practice exactly what I preach: if you dump drama into my life, I will put it and you onto the page.”

You have been warned!


*Note from The Daily Creative Writer: This post was originally published June 2, 2012. After last week’s crazy-making drama with a disgruntled internet stranger, this four-year-old entry felt extremely relevant. I’m reposting it because it sums up not only the struggles we all face when we try to put “real life” aside to focus on our creative projects, but also because it’s a reminder to keep the drama on the page!
I’d also like to give a hearty THANK YOU to everyone who reached out and offered support last week when I was forced to remove blog content. It was so very heartening to know that I’m surrounded by a community of compassionate, understanding and fiercely protective writers and artists. Thanks so much for coming to my defense and letting me know you had my back!
Merci beaucoup my friends!

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