Sometimes It’s Okay Not to Write

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We went to the tiny seaside fishing village with good intentions, not to fish, but to simply relax, enjoy some time away from daily life. It was our 46th wedding anniversary and in recent years we’ve enjoyed taking such a break on this occasion.

The view above was taken from the beach house balcony early on our first morning after arrival. Believe it or not, rather than inspire me, this view restricted my writing. I wanted to write, believe me. My intention had been to write about 1000 words while there. I thought the surroundings would be perfect.

It seems they were too perfect and I needed relaxation more than I needed writing. I spent most of the four days enjoying the view. Sure, I achieved some journal writing, but nothing more serious than that. In fact at the end of our first full day there I wrote:

My brain is like a hyperactive child after an overload of sugar. It is flitting all over the place, nothing productive. Maybe I need this quietness to enable my creative mind to have a rest, empty, then leave room for new ideas.

I eventually accepted that it was okay not to write. My brain fell into the peaceful rhythm of the sea and I chose to not disturb that rhythm as it became absorbed into my being.

Now I am home again, refreshed, and ready to start writing again.

Sometimes it’s okay not to write.

Painting My Writing With Colour

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Image courtesy of  https://pixabay.com/

Falling into familiar patterns is easy. They creep up on us without our noticing and we find the excitement in our writing slowly goes into hiding. That’s what it’s like for me anyway.

I’ve done more factual than creative writing over the past three years, but now I’m trying to kick start my creativity. I have a few go-to books I enjoy when this happens and I pulled out one this morning. I randomly opened at a chapter about including the detail of colour in writing.

This was exactly what I needed. I’m currently writing a piece about ‘That Woman’ for my memoir group. My writing was drab, even though I was describing a woman vibrant in both the colours she chose and in her personality. Just being reminded of colour enabled me to revitalise my writing, bring more life to it.

The woman’s grey hair became silver grey hair, so silver the light bounced off it like sparks. Her pink volkswagen car became a car so pink it shocked the drab neighbourhood around it.

Sometimes it is easy to fall into lazy habits, but they are not impossible to turn around. Today I’m looking forward to painting the piece I’m writing with colour.

The Opposite of Writers’ Block, What a Problem

Writers, read on at your own discretion. You may find the following content upsetting, infuriating and totally insensitive. You may feel like throwing bricks at me across the world. You may become so envious you vow never to read my writing again. I’m sorry, I have a problem and I need to share it with you.

I’m experiencing the opposite of writers block. Too many ideas are rushing at me, too many projects demanding my time. Why can’t ideas pace themselves, take their turn in line, rather than fighting for my attention?

My long term book project graciously agreed to go on hold for a week or two as I experiment with a short story competition entry, for which the deadline looms. I’m like the turtle getting closer to the finish line, word by word.

A 2000 word essay for my online writing course needed a possible topic to emerge. Of course, now I’m swamped with ideas, taunting, calling to be written now. So much for the competition entry, I now have two projects on hold and an essay I want to write.

Next writing challenge, another deadline, a picture book workshop I’m attending next weekend. I do have stories to take, but …… they were written some time ago and my writing has changed. Which of the three possibilities shall I work on?

With all these ideas calling out to be written, you may wonder what my problem is? Let me tell you, time and my lack of ability to focus on one thing at a time. I want to write them all – now! This is quite bewildering. What happened to my old friend, writers block, allowing me time to write but with any possible ideas hiding under a rock.

I know, you’ll tell me I need to be strong, get focused, choose one idea and run with it. I’m exposing myself as a scatterbrain without self-discipline. You’re right. I need to set priorities. The first priority is the short story competition. I hope the other ideas don’t mind and will wait patiently for me.

Uncovering Treasure through Journal Writing

We’ve all heard more times than we care to remember how daily Journal Writing is essential for any writer. I love writing in my journal, pencil to paper, but until about two months ago was never consistent. Now I write two or three pages of random writing on a regular basis and I’m surprised at the potential writing ideas emerging. Take last night for example, for some reason I started thinking about clocks as I wrote.

Clocks ticking can add suspense. Tick, tick, tick into the silence. Breath held, waiting in anticipation. What will happen next?

Those few words enabled an image of a clock to appear in my mind, a clock that would have probably been ticking at a meeting of important people I’ve just written a short scene about for my writing group monthly piece. Great, I’ll add a little clock detail into my piece today and at the same time throw a portrait of a previous Mayor on to that same wall as well.

Then I remembered the large timing clock high on the wall at the swimming pool. This will add more detail to my Work in Progress.

There’s no indication in my journal as to how I moved from writing about an incident that happened during the day to clocks. But I’m glad my mind made the transition, as the image of clocks will improve both pieces of writing.

I started my journal writing last night thinking that many of the words tumbled onto the empty pages were wasted words, never to be used. I now know writers are like gold miners. They have to dig through a lot of rubble and discard it before uncovering a tiny gem.

So keep up the journal writing, you never know when your next little treasured piece will reveal itself to you.

My Pencil Sharpener and I

As a writer, I often prefer to write with pencil first, onto a fresh page, before transferring it to the computer. My pencil sharpener, at these times, becomes my best friend.

How odd you may think, a pencil sharpener is an odd thing to be listed amongst my favourite belongings. What does that say about me? Who knows and I don’t really care …… and, I’ll tell you what, this is not the first time I’ve written about pencil sharpeners.

I blame my second teacher, Mrs Foster, who had an aversion to blunt pencils. And now, so do I. As a teacher I shudder when a child tries writing with a thick, fat, blunt lead. I throw up my hands in horror, snatch the pencil from unsuspecting hands, whip out my pencil sharpener as my weapon of choice and start my attack.

But how does this relate to my writing life? While much of my writing is done at the computer, I prefer to write with a pencil. In my more creative moments I enjoy feeling the words flow across the page. There is a serenity that enables creative thoughts to flow more easily. Like all good working people, I need to ensure my tools are in the best possible shape to carry out the task being asked of them. We’ve been told  a poor tradesman blames his or her tools. I have this perception a blunt pencil contributes to blunt writing.

If I want to keep my work sharp and crisp, if I want to feel ideas flowing onto the page, I need one simple tool – a reliable pencil sharpener. I couldn’t live without mine.

What about you? What is your tool of choice when wearing your writer’s hat?

I Write because I Can

Earlier this evening I started re-reading Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book, ‘Writing Down the Bones.’ I return to this book whenever my writing feels tired and in need of a burst of energy. After two chapters I turned off the light, falling quickly into sleep. But, as often happens, I awoke after a few hours, my brain wide awake.

Unable to go back to sleep I’m writing because I can. I have no idea why this happens, but when I’m not booked to work as a relief teacher next day I feel free to write whenever the urge takes me.  In these early hours, freshened after a few hours sleep, ideas dance into my head, not waiting to be invited. With no other external factors demanding my attention, writing knows it has my full attention.

Nothing else is important at this time. While my immediate world stands still, energy returns. Like the caterpillar waiting to be transformed into a butterfly, I’m cocooned in the quietness of early morning darkness, with nothing else forcing its attention upon me. My only companion is the gentle breeze outside, gently sweeping away the abandoned thoughts of yesterday, like the sea washing away footprints on the sand.

It is one o’clock in the morning and I write because I can.