Ligonier Country Market, summer 2007
This week's In The Word Cellar column is an interlude of inspiration. I almost titled this post "Things I've Been Telling Myself (which you may or may not find useful, too)." I had intended to write about the rules of writing this week, but apparently I needed an affirmation of my creative powers instead. Writing has been slow going for the past two weeks, even downright painful at times. So here's a little shot in the arm to keep you -- and me -- going. Come back in two weeks for what I hope will become a rousing discussion on the topic of when it's okay to break the rules of grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. Fun times!
- When you sit down to write and there are no words, listen.
- When you look at the blank page and panic, type the first ten words that come to mind, no matter what they are. Then type ten more. It might hurt, but keep typing until you find the thread of some story, even if it's not a story you knew you needed to tell.
- When you open a jumbled mess of a document to rewrite it and feel physically repulsed by what you are sure is hard core evidence of your shortcomings, breathe.
- When the call to create becomes a burden, shift your energy from a place of duty to a place of privilege. Stop saying "I have to," and start saying "I get to."
- When every single word or brush stroke or click of the shutter feels like a slow and clumsy slog through the mud, take a break. And then go back to slogging until you can find an easier way. If the way doesn't get easier, only you can really know if you're on the wrong path or if this is simply a time of learning and strengthening for you. Be honest and proceed accordingly.
- When you feel certain that your success is behind you and all future attempts will fail, try to chuckle at your own mix of pride and insecurity. And take comfort in the knowledge that other artists have this same mix inside of them, too.
- When you don't know what to create, ask yourself what you love. Then make that.
- When all of this fails, remind yourself to create out of a sense of love, not fear.
- When you feel overwhelmed and sick to your stomach with other people's smarmy inspiration, take these words (and all aphorisms) with the clichéd grain of salt. Then find your own way to keep creating. (And tell us about it in the comments.)