What if I told you that it took me ten years to understand what I was teaching? It looked like I was teaching people how to write, but what I was actually doing, I realized late in the game, was teaching writers how to peel away the layers of their story and dig for something more true, more authentic and just plain honest. And while all that digging and examining is good for writing, it’s also excellent for living. When you chip away at the façade of your story, and you lay down one true word, and then the next true word you will eventually become stripped down and naked to yourself. And when you see yourself like that, there’s no turning back. You may, as many of my students have done, begin the process of changing your life.
I’m a process person. I’m all about getting words onto a page; messy, ugly, imperfect, glorious words. And to do that you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
For me, it’s not about what I’m writing or whether I like what I’m writing that’s important. That the pen inks like a river across the page, that I have the courage not to know what the next word is, or the word after that…that I keep going anyway. That’s the spirit, that’s what makes a sound turn into a song. I might only be able to hear bits at first – the merest sound of a refrain – but I’ll swirl it around in my mouth, taste it, roll it on my tongue and Wa La, I start singing. That’s how I make a song. The important part is not that I make a perfect song, but that I have created a channel for song sounds to come through – which means I can make more sounds and more songs.
It’s the same for writing. When I put these words on this page I didn’t know where I was going or what would come next, but if I’ve become a student of anything, it’s learning to not love what’s coming through me and to keep going anyway. That’s just part of the creative process. If I turned back every time I felt lost, or if I judged what I was doing, I wouldn’t make anything. I have to let go of perfection if I want to be a maker of things, because it’s not about the thing that I make, it’s about the making, and I want to be a maker for a long, long time.
*Want to be a story maker this summer? My 5-week eCourse, Telling True Stories starts on June 17th Love to have you join us!
*If you’re interested in the Wild Writing classes I offer, make sure you’re on the mailing list so you can find out about new classes starting in September.
Love this — thank you for sharing! Happy to have found you via Ann Randolph / Ann Swanberg. Happy happy happy! 🙂
Thank you Ann! Great to meet you – glad you got something out of this!
I love this, “that’s what makes a sound turn into a song.” I wonder if you know that’s what you do for other writers, your students? I could have gone on believing I was a pile of feathers in the corner or a hunk of wood, but you helped me to see I’m a bird, a guitar, that in my heart is a song, you helped coax it out of me and I can’t stop singing. xo
jilly – you are a bird, a guitar, there’s a song in your heart – there always was! Never stop singing! I think we’ll definitely do some singing in October. LOVE LOVE LOVE
Like a river across the page… I love writing, singing and making with you! xoxo
The feeling is mutual – it takes every voice around the table to make our song. Yours is so vital. Thanks Willo!
You are simply the best.
and you my dear, have had a big hand in making me even best-er.
Ohhhhhh. This makes me think about when I write something but I have to let it sit because it doesn’t feel ready. It’s usually that it feels shallow because I haven’t yet gotten to the thing that is behind it that I really want to share but sometimes it takes time for that part to come out.
I want to remember this: “The important part is not that I make a perfect song, but that I have created a channel for song sounds to come through – which means I can make more sounds and more songs.”
exactly – we can all become too precious about our work. But each thing we write just greases the wheels for the next thing and the thing after that. And it greases a lot of other things too – all the ways we express ourselves with more ease and joy. Thank you!
Laurie – I feel like working with you is changing my life. This class sounds amazing.
monica – i listen to your music when I work. You are adding to my life in more ways than you know. It’s big time mutual. It’s an honor to work with you!
DITTO to Monica. You are motherfucking magic!
I wonder how I can fit the word “motherfucker” into my sell sheet? Hmmm?
LW! You have such a gift! Thank you SO much for being You & for being there for writers.
I can’t help it baby – but it’s good to be received! Thank you! Xxx
This: “but if I’ve become a student of anything, it’s learning to not love what’s coming through me and to keep going anyway. ”
It’s the whole shitty first draft thing, and I struggle with it all the the time. I think your advice here is not just for writing (or singing); it’s for anything we put our creative energy into, including (and especially) our lives.
So glad to have found you through Jill.
“including (and especially) our lives.”
You’ve nailed it. I’m just running off this morning to teach an altered books workshop and as I was sitting here having a cup of coffee before I go I was thinking, my god, it’s all about having fun. I know everyone wants to make things they’re happy with – we all do – and good god, sometimes we actually do – but most of the time we’re simply in process – so it’s that process we need to fall in love with – or at least make friends with. Stop judging so much. Glad you found me – clearly we all need each other!