Dear Writers and Creative Friends,
If I’m about anything, it’s helping writers to take the lead out and get some ink on the page. I’m a process person – I believe Mo is Bettah when it comes to writing – which is to say, let’s get a lot of words on the page so that eventually, good golly, a story will emerge. It’s kind of like that joke about walking into a room full of horse shit. There’s got to be a pony around here somewhere.
That’s what I mean when I encourage people to write as poorly as possible. What I’m saying is, don’t sit there huffing and puffing over the right word or the right line. You’ll find both, but start writing. Perfection is very rarely going to come out of you like lightening the minute the pen hits the page. The beginning of your piece, that awesome lead, might spill out of you on the second page of your messy scrawl – but that’s what it took – if you’re lucky – two pages of messy crap to find the one thing you meant to say. I support that kind of murky goodness. That’s my practice and I would never ask you to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. I know that if I’m just willing to keep the pen moving a story of some sort will emerge eventually. I might not even love it, by the way, but it doesn’t matter. Every piece I write makes me a better writer. I’m in it for the long haul.
It takes patience and a willingness to not love what you’re writing. Good god, that’s what we’re selling over here at 27 Powers. But mark my words, good things come from staying with something instead of backing away because we don’t like it. It reminds me of what my kid’s therapist said, “honey, I think it’s time you learned to be get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Why should writing or making music or art be any different? Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re not good at it.
So what’s my advice for how to get your writing mojo on in the New Year?
Get some accountability. Meet up with a writer friend in a café once a week and sit your fannies down and write for 30 minutes. Then read to each other. Then do it again. Or, have a standing email exchange with a friend that you promise not to break. My good friend Maya Stein and I used to send work to each other every Friday without fail.
Put some skin in the game. Two students of mine, Lisa and Julie, they made a promise to send work to one another every two weeks, and if they did, over the course of a couple of months, they got to spend $200 on new clothes. Whoever didn’t turn in work had to take $25 out of their kitty.
Join a class. A lot of the people who come to my classes don’t write during the week because they’re busy or lazy, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. When they come to class they write – and then they feel better. It’s all about showing up.
Purchase my 27 Days or 27 More Days writing prompts. They’re easy, they come to your in-box, they’re friendly and nicely designed and I promise not to ask you to describe the chair you’re sitting in. Better yet, purchase these writing prompts/tips and interviews with writers with a friend or two and turn your work in to each other. Make your own class.
And if you’re disciplined, lucky you, make a writing date with yourself everyday or every other day. I like early mornings. After I get my coffee, I write for 20 minutes, and then I put the writing away and get on with the other business of my life. It helps me if I’m working on a project. I open that document and lay a few lines down. I like early morning because I’m dumb as a heifer – I haven’t gotten my smarts on yet. But I’m also more instinctive, more intuitive. I use words I might not use in everyday conversation, but they’re more creative, more evocative and a lot more interesting to me.
Don’t ask yourself if you’re a writer. Don’t ask yourself if your stuff sucks. Ask yourself if you’ve written today.
Process, process, process. Happy New Year Writers! I hope our paths cross in 2015.