Thursday, March 15, 2012
10 Ways to Reconnect With Your Writing Core-The "Roar" Series Presents Noelle Sterne
Depressed about your writing? Buried under an avalanche of rejections? Ready to unsubscribe from your own email and pursue a career in dry wall?
What you need is to reconnect with your writing core.
If you feel you don't have one, you do. If you feel you haven't written enough to deserve one, you qualify anyway.
Your writing core doesn't care how much or what you write—poetry, publicity releases, or plumbing manuals. It doesn't test, screen, require a resume, or demand membership dues. It never asks hard questions like how much you've published, what awards you've won, or what you've earned this year from writing.
How do you get to your writing core? You don't need to meditate bare-chested in frigid temperatures. Or trek through some brow-scorching wilderness on your knees. Or walk without socks on a bed of nails even an enlightened master would reject.
It's much simpler. Wherever you are—right now—you can find your writing core. Even though you may not yet be certain what it is, like every other writer, you have experienced it.
But this doesn't mean your writing core is accessible at the snap of a pencil. It's more than our fantasies of book tours and talk shows, more than our January sworn oath to write 20 pages a day, and more than the uncontrollable grin when we manage to get something published. Our writing core hides beneath all our reasons, promised self-discipline, and dreams of reward.
Our writing core is different for each of us, and we may not easily be able to label it. But when you reach it, you'll recognize it like a longlost childhood doll.
Our writing core is what makes us write.
Sometimes we don't need to invoke it consciously. It bubbles up joyfully, sending us bounding to our computer, typewriter, clipboard, yellow pad, spiral notebook, or the nearest used napkin. Other times, our core knocks, nudges, pulls, or shames us into punching off the TV, despite the hot new cable movie, and go tussle with our manuscript.
But at more desperate hours, our core seems to dive deep underwater, allowing only tantalizing glimpses, like lightning fish darting through coral. Our core submerges when yet another rejection arrives of that most cherished, labored-over piece. Or we've inexplicably lost all interest in the work that so fired us up last week. Or we get a great idea but haven't a clue where to begin.
At such times, to get going again, we must tap more consciously into our writing core. How?
Most of the time, our connection is haphazard, the result of combined lamentation, supplication to the god of abandoned writers, and decimation of a two-pound bag of corn chips. But this approach can take days, weeks, or months, and gain you 30 pounds.
There's a better, more conscious way to reconnect with your writing core. It's much less damaging and much more quickly reviving than all that weeping and munching.
1. Stop trying to write. Stop telling yourself you have to. If you miss a few days, you won't be destroyed or condemned to eternal block.
2. Go to a quiet spot, with no disturbances of kids, neighbors, phone, stereo, or reality shows. Take a few deep breaths. Relax.
3. Let your mind go back to a time you really enjoyed writing. Maybe it was two years ago, last month, or yesterday. What were you working on? What materials were you using?
4. Reconstruct that experience. Where were you? What was the physical setting like? How were you dressed? See yourself writing in that environment. Replay it.
5. How did you feel? Don't try to force the memories or bully them into being. They haven't been lost. If you're quiet and patient, they'll emerge.
6. Live those feelings. Re-experience them. Feel your ideas flowing, fingers again moving, singing on the page.
7. As you allow these thoughts, pictures, and feelings to surface, you'll start sensing something. It will stir in you, as excitement, maybe, a physical sensation, a desire, a word, phrase, or image.
8. Whatever arises, give it time. You'll know it . . . .
You've reached your writing core.
9. Bask in your core. Let it move you, as naturally as a cat stretching in the sun.
10. And then, gently, without hurry, listen as it tells you what to write. No judgments. If it's a current project, fine. If it's a journal entry, fine. If it's a long-delayed letter, also fine.
You’ve reawakened your writing core. And whatever your lapses, it cannot be lost. It's always within you, ready to support, sustain, and guide.
So, when you feel frustrated, bored, hopeless, or any of the other buzzing self-disparagements that swarm in our heads, don't despair. Wherever you are, just stop, sit quietly, breathe, and let yourself remember. And as surely as you blink in the first morning light, you’ll reconnect with your writing core.
Author, editor, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne writes fiction and nonfiction, with specialties in writing craft, spiritual self-help, and personal essays. She has published over 250 pieces in print and online venues, with many guest posts. Noelle’s Ph.D. is from Columbia University, and for over 28 years she has helped doctoral candidates (finally) complete their dissertations. In her book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books), Noelle draws examples from her practice and many other aspects of life to help readers let go of regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. Visit Noelle at www.trustyourlifenow.com.