Monday, November 18, 2013

Writing Toward Creative Treasure

High hopes accompany writing a memoir or a novel yet enthusiasm often collides with the reality of writing and finishing the book.  What stalls the writer’s best intentions?  At our recent writing workshop focusing on how to unlock the creative treasures within, writers shared in the Circle the many things that block getting beyond even a first draft. 

Not surprisingly life's complexity intruding on solitude and reflection to undertake a creative endeavor is the chief impediment  to finding our creative treasures. We shared our lives as women, the many demands on our time from children and spouses, to careers and chores. 

As Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes in Gift From the Sea:  I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily – like a hermit crab.  But I do not.  I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity. The life I have chosen as wife and mother entrains a whole caravan of complications.  It involves a house, food and shelter, meals, planning, marketing, bills and making ends meet.  It involves health, education, clothes, shopping, laundry, cleaning; it involves friends, my husband’s my children’s, my own and endless arrangements to get together."

As the women in our workshop began expressing themselves, they admitted that the desire to create, to write a story begging to be told never wanes.  It comes down to taking ownership; focusing and committing to organizing our outward lives.  That enables the inward life to be renewed and restored through contemplation, solitude and downtime.

Sometimes, jumpstarting our writing projects is as simple as setting aside time to organize our writing space and decide which rituals foster creativity.
“Maya Angelou checks herself into a hotel room equipped to her odd specifications.  All potential distractions – visual stimuli – removed and the following items added: legal pads and thesaurus, playing cards and a bottle of wine."

Sometimes it means we escape to a coffee shop because writing at home, alone, and without distraction is impossible.  The laundry waits, the bills need to be paid, the toilets cleaned, the house straightened. 

My rituals involve writing in the morning when my mind is sharpest.  Lately, I have had to discipline myself to avoid social media interaction and commit to working on my new book.  Having a project gives me structure and purpose. 

My office is devoted entirely to my writing.  A framed original watercolor presented to me by the Women's Writing Circle collaborators on Slants of Light is displayed on my bookcase, a reminder of both the Sisyphean task of writing as well as the joy of others cheering you on. A window with view of sky and tree grounds me to the larger picture and what lies beyond.

“Ultimately, if the [writing] process is good, the end will be good.  You will get good writing.” Natalie Goldberg.

Hindrances to inspiration take root in fear.  Fear that what we write may not be good enough; that we might be subjected to criticism for what we write because it is too true and honest; fear that we are unworthy to commit the time and the energy to our creative lives. 

The soul-numbing that comes with perfectionism and holding ourselves up to impossible standards promotes both fear and procrastination.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.  What I want and what I fear.”  Joan Didion

"When we start at the center of ourselves, we discover something worthwhile extending toward the periphery of the circle.  We find again some of the joy in the now, some of the peace in the here, some of the love in me and thee which go to make up the kingdom of heaven on earth." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Open the heart to possibility. With trust and faith that creative treasures await in the void, we welcome the blank page. 
What about you?  Can you share some of your insights and writing rituals to tap into the creative treasures within?

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