Villa in Tuscany

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Writing Prompt

Do you remember junior high writing classes? The teacher would put three topics on the board and you would have to choose one. You were to write an entire page about the writing prompt

I feel that I have created my own version of writing prompts. In my despair of getting back my writing "flow", I have been trying to write. . . anything. If a topic inspires me in the least bit. I will write a paragraph.

For example, a play-writing contest prompted me to think of theater scripts. A news story will inspire a letter-to-the-editor. Someone's blog will have me writing a response. I've been trying to write a review of a book. Anything to get back into writing.

I've picked up my first manuscripts that were no more than scenes with no plot. I've been trying to decide if any of the characters are worthy of a story, even a short story.

And, of course, I've been reading whatever I can. A variety of stuff, historical romance, chick-lit, fantasy, contempory, romantic suspense. sigh . . . I keep hoping for inspiration that will bring back the flow of words that I once had.

In the children's book, the Phantom Toolbooth by Norton Juster, the main character (Milo) goes off into the doldrums. In this book, the doldrums is a real place where you do nothing. . . no thinking, no moving, not even breathing. When Milo realizes his predicament, he is encouraged to think, about anything. . . about birds that swim and fish that fly. Milo's thinking gets the wheels of his car started again and gets him out of the doldrums.

I feel like Milo, in the doldrums and thinking about anything to get out, trying desparately to get my wheels moving.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Where did it go?

Last week, I looked at my WIP's and realized I couldn't write. Not only could I not write, I had no desire to. What a frightening feeling. Particularly scary was my total lack of emotion about it. For almost a week, I didn't care if I wrote again or not. I could feel this coming on weeks ago, but last week, I looked at my writing and decided I couldn't do it anymore. I packed up my laptop and put it away. I turned all of my writing Yahoo loops to digest. I tossed my latest RWR into the stacks of unread magazines, something I never do. My desire to be a writer shriveled up like an ice cube in July.

What happened? Where did it go? I think it went into hiding. The environment I find myself in now is not conducive to creativity. My kids are home, bored and eager to annoy me. I am exhausted emotionally, physically and mentally. I need a break and I'm not finding a way to get one. So I think the my muse decided to pack it in for awhile. I took a mental vacation, losing myself to reading and cleaning. Doesn't sound like much, but it can be. I found myself forcing the words onto the keyboard.

In all fairness, it may not be right to blame the external pressures. They really haven't changed in the last 3 years. I think in some ways my writing drought was self-induced. I've come to a point in my writing where I expect more of myself. I'm a good writer but I can be better. I read my stuff and think, yeah, its good, but I can do better.

The writing bug came back yesterday and I re-started one of my WIP's. It's not easy, but it really shouldn't be. Growth can be a painful process. Re-thinking each word I write is a difficult thing for me. But if I want to be the best I can be, I have to struggle, climb the Hilary Step as it were. Eventually I will reach the summit. I want to be exceptional. I think my drop of writing desire was the fear of how much work that was going to take.

So the lesson learned I suppose is to realize the climb to writing greatness is an arduous one and to accept the fact some days you need to hang around base camp and catch your breath. I think my writing will be better for it.