I looked at a lot of blogs and interviews to prep for being a first-time blogger. The old interviews ended up being what interested me most. People ask the most amazing things. What music do I listen to when I write?
Do I write in my pajamas?
There is only one rather dated answer: Du-uh.
Where do I get my ideas?
Ideas find writers. The real trick is showing up to be found.
Now there’s a question: “You lead a busy life, Audrey, how can you focus on writing?”
Part of it is just showing up. i keep a quote taped up in the study: "What if the angel came and i wasn't there?" But i've had plenty of days i showed up and i more or less had to bang on the angel's door.
Before you ask, I didn’t come to this conclusion on a super busy day, but on a free day after a string of super busy days. I felt strangely empty-handed. As if having nothing to do all day but write was sort of meaningless. Less essential, at any rate, than arguing with insurance companies, finding an old tax-related lease, arranging for repairs to the water heater, daily phone call to a sick friend, making appointments, cleaning the poodle’s ears, paying bills, catching up on email, watering the roses, taking books back to the library. . , well,
you get the idea.
Get pen or pencil—your pick, and a pad of paper. Write a list of all those things you absolutely have to change, have to find, have to hide or make ready or throw away, have to tell somebody, have to keep somebody else from telling you, have to do. Write them down so they don’t feel they need to keep yammering at you from the edges of the room you’re sitting in. Add a brief statement about any negative feeling you have about these matters.
For some of us, this will take a few pages.
Somewhere in the process of doing this—somewhere in the second or third year of doing it, we will be reminded that if we die in the course of this day, some, possibly even most of this stuff, won’t even end up on somebody else’s to-do list. It will just fall away.
Write it all down anyway. Put the pages in a drawer. Make a mental picture of shutting it away and make that image in your mind small and dim and blurry. Move it to the lower left corner of the ‘screen,’ and go back to the tablet with a clear mind.
The next page is devoted to the reasons you want to write. This list is considerably shorter, but it should also lift your spirits. Writing that changes someone else’s day for the better, even for one day, is a rewarding thing to do. And if you do it, somebody will some day tell you they celebrate your presence in the world, and you learn that someone will remember you in a way that is meaningful, if only to them.
These are great reasons to write and to get published.
When I taught a course in memoir (which most writing is, truly, however thinly we have rolled the dough of story), I realized that’s why everyone there was writing. Most had little interest in publishing. They were leaving a record for their families to celebrate, to cherish, and to be connected to whenever in their lives they’d need that. These are wonderful reasons to write.
Once your mind is quieted, close your eyes and think about how good it feels to have written. Especially, to have written well. I’m not talking about writing skills, but about having tried to put something on the page that makes someone else understand.
Understand what? Why, anything. Let that feeling flow now.
Let the warmth and authenticity get a good hold on your heart and concentrate on it softly. Breathe it. if you like visualization, make a picture of your eager readers, your glowing reviews, your own happy face, and let these pictures fill the screen, bright and sharp. Let that heartfelt joy grow with each breath until you are filled with how marvelous it makes you feel to have written and written well. Let that balloon expand until even your fingertips feel aglow with the joy of what they are about to do.
Then put pen to paper and write. Make everything you put down a kind of gentle push for understanding, for kindness, for love. Those may not be the subjects you’re writing about, not in terms of events, but it’s why we write, ultimately. It’s what we live for.
Make every word a celebration of that.
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