Thursday, March 29, 2007

Writing Every Day

I’m doing it now, the writing every day (though obviously not on my blog….) I’m trying to create stories from the true stories I’ve witnessed or lived, from dreams, overheard conversations, or from things I just manage to conjure up. Many don’t manage to make themselves into actual stories. They are just snippets of things, sometimes scrawled on index cards which can be very hard to decipher later. I have a rubber-banded clump of dog-eared cards in my purse for this purpose. Forget waiting for the muse. She is downright unreliable, and as those close to me know, I can’t abide unreliability. It is far better to sit down in those tiny windows of opportunity, if that’s all I have, and just plain write, with or without ideas. And let me tell you, I haven’t even had many of those windows lately. We’re talking scribbling madly in my notebook while I cook dinner, or in my parked car in between my class and a meeting, or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. The most frustrating is when some great idea does occasionally come to me…the muse choosing to capriciously visit at the most inopportune moments, like while I’m driving. Not stuck in traffic inching along, but doing 70 on the freeway, or maybe when carpooling the kids to soccer. So I sit down doggedly at the “free” moments, however impossibly brief they might seem at the time, and just write what comes, most of it bad, bad writing. But occasionally the germ of an idea can be found in there somewhere, especially if I just let it rip. Lately I have been paying more attention to my visual ideas as well. I started two pieces in the past month based on very vivid images that popped into my head. This is where it can get fun, to follow those images and build stories from them. So many writing teachers and books, encourage just this regular practice, even if it does feel like squeezing blood from a turnip. And not to beat yourself up with perfectionism, or you will never truly start, let alone finish – anything.