Monday, August 17, 2009

Exercising the Right To Write


Last week I took a break from blogging since I was traveling a lot with my family. Writing, however, is not a habit I can break, even for a week. I found myself scribbling on note pads, paper towels, my hand, just like I used to do before I started writing this blog. Since I was about 10 years old I've kept some form of journal. For me, writing is like scratching an itch; when I hear or think of something that interests me it bugs me until I can get it onto a piece of paper. The good thing about blogging is that it helps me to process my thoughts. Blogging also archives my writing in an organized manner and readers give me feedback.


When I don't write, I get grumpy. Writing always brings me back to center. It calms me when I am frazzled, helps me sort feelings and mull over questions. It helps me process life and achieve some clarity. In some ways it is how I pray, and also how I cherish other people in my life. Writing is very good for my health. It's how I snatch up pieces of time as it shoots past me.

When I had my first child I stopped writing because I was consumed with being a mother for the first time. At night I'd scrapbook instead. It wasn't the decorating of a page that attracted me to the hobby, but the journaling about the pictures. Now I don't do it as much, but I always buy photo albums with lines for writing on the sides of the pictures. This is the core reason I like scrapbooking.

Lately I've been really distracted and have struggled to find time to concentrate on anything other than parenting. Writing, like parenting, is similar to being inside a corn maze. When you can focus on it, part of the fun of writing is seeing where it takes you. Now add to that three small children and the journey is slightly more difficult. Baby Bigfoot is everywhere he should not be. Gates and doors are no match for him and he can climb just about everything. I had to move the laptop out of my new office, (his old bedroom) and onto the kitchen table so I could write in the moments in between chasing him.



Case in point, it just got really quiet around here, which is never a good sign. I find Baby Bigfoot in the bathroom, smearing the walls with antibacterial soap.
"Clean, Momma."

After cleaning him, and closing the bathroom door to return to writing this post, he walks past me with a flowered hat box from the closet. I keep scarves, hats, and gloves stored in it. I'm typing as he saunters out the back door and dumps the box and its contents into the filled kitty pool.


I walk away again to clean up and divert his attention to the sand box. Then I sit down again to finish writing this post, but big brother approaches and begins talking.

"Can you tell me a secret, like a trick?"

"Huh, what kind of trick?" I ask. Meanwhile, the baby is stomping on the Bilco basement doors outside.

I'm feeling distracted. A LOT.
"Mommy, what's this story called, anyway? Can you read me the one where Hell Hound steals the duck?"

I stop writing again to escort big brother outside to his swings. In her book The Right to Write, Julia Cameron remarks that "We are often so busy wanting to have a life as a writer that we forget that we have a life to write about." Sometimes I erase an entire post and just start writing what's going on around me. My children are a writing gold mine, plus, they make me laugh...and cry...and scream occasionally.


I finished reading The Right To Write last week on the train to Manhattan and I really enjoyed it. Julia Cameron is really talented. She's also wrote the popular book The Artist's Way, movies, television scripts and musicals. She shares her secret with me: Morning Pages. So I try it.

Every day as soon as I wake up, I write for three pages without stopping. Her point is that if you want to produce something as a writer then you just have to do it. Practice constantly so writing is familiar and comfortable. She makes comparisons between writers and athletes. Morning pages is a training exercise for writers.

A few things develop from this experiment. First, I record many dream fragments before I forget them. Boy, are they interesting. Next, I start a novel...again. I set a goal for myself to finish a "skeleton sketch" as Cameron says, of this one by Christmas. (I'm forcing myself not to go back and fix while I write, since that's what trips me up and then I just drop the project altogether.) Finally, I find out that after I finish writing three pages of longhand first thing in the morning, I feel good, like I just went to the gym. It makes me happy.

There are no rules for writing Morning Pages. You just write anything that comes to mind. Cameron suggests that the drive to write is really the push of a greater energy working through you. Some people call this a muse or tapping into their soul. I'd like to think it is the Holy Spirit, who is the source of all talent and art. Call it whatever, writing for me is a kind of meditation, just as the author of The Right to Write says, and it gives me a sense of connection with my environment and life as I experience it.

Sometimes we need some time to "refill our well of experience" writes Cameron. For this purpose, the author suggests Writer's Dates. Traveling to places that contain art, like museums and galleries works, or just going somewhere beautiful to relax.

I feel like I did replenish the well in a sense last week; it was productive from a writer's perspective. So much came out of starting Morning Pages. (I was reluctant to try them because I enjoy typing more than writing by hand.) I was still writing, and producing a lot on the page. I would suggest this exercise for any writer looking to replenish the inspiration pool. Now it's time to go refill the plastic baby pool outside.


Pictured is my children in the corn maze at Harbes Farm in Riverhead, NY. ...(and yes, I did have Children of the Corn movie flashbacks walking through it.)

10 comments:

Milk Man said...

As I remarked last evening I am amazed with the pace and variety of genre that you are reading.

Loren Christie said...

Why, thank you, Milk Man.

Caity said...

You definitely are a fantastic writer and I am always intrigued and pulled in to what you have to say.

I also tend to get grumpy when I don't blog but it's more of an outlet for my little life for me, not as an outlet for more complex feelings, morals, and beliefs as your blog is. Your blog makes me think and I like that. Blogs like yours have made me inspired lately to try and write in such a way that at least tries to spark some sort of thought in those who visit my blog, but I'm still learning.

I was a math major, after all. :P

I have been trying to read more and I've gotten a library card to my local library that is two blocks away. That looks like an interesting book that I'm going to put on my to-read list.

I wanted to show you a pretty awesome site that I stumbled across called Goodreads. Maybe you've heard of it. You can even connect it with Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. It keeps track of all your books and you can organize them on virtual shelves. It's basically its own little community and you have your own page and can write reviews and add friends. I thought you might enjoy it. I have gotten a lot of great recommendations from it and it has sparked my interest in reading recently.
Here is my page if you want to sign up and decide to add me. :)
http://www.goodreads.com/caitysparkles

Sorry for to extremely large comment. I finally had time to sit down and write one. Have a great day! :D

Putz said...

i gusee that i am just not that dedicated of a writer...i did add a complimet to you on 'OUR' honest scrap award on the defunked putz blog to our lovely loren..huh milkman???

Koala Bear Writer said...

I could identify with the need to write. That's me too! And a good writing book once in a while is always encouraging and inspiring. I found one at the library that I'll post a review on soon. I also like the idea of taking time every day to write - I need to start that. Maybe once summer ends and we get back into something of a routine - whoops, that's the old excuse. Must just do it now! :)

Loren Christie said...

Hi Koala, Caity, Mr. Putz. Thank you for the wonderful feedback. Caity, I will check out that site. Mr. Putz, Milk Man is saying that I've been reading all kinds of books lately, not just one type. I love getting all of your comments everyone, by the way.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Glad you found your way out of the corn maze. Great analogy! I won't be writing since I have to drive 900 miles home tomorrow.

rhymeswithplague said...

Hello, Loren! You left a comment on my latest post and then you deleted it, but it was also in my e-mail, so I was able to read it anyway, even though my other readers couldn't!

What made you decide to delete Judy Garland's lovely letter to Clark Gable?

Loren Christie said...

Mr. Brague, I deleted it because of my grammar mistakes, but then my computer got really slow and I could not repost. I just reposted it. I love Judy Garland and I'm not sure why. I can recite just about every song and every line from every movie she ever did.I think I was originally drawn to the truth in her voice, although her movies were sappy and fake.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I took a reading break while on my blogging break and am glad you have had such an increase in readers! Great new posts to come back to!

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.

Fondly,

Loren Christie

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