Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Abandonment Writing

I'm anal. I admit it. My spices are in alphabetical order. I rotate dishes as well as food--so it's first in, first out. I really don't see much of a problem with these things (in fact, I can grab a spice I need pretty darn fast) as long as it doesn't rule my life or impact things I want to do.

What I have to work on however, are the routines I've established with writing. I need to learn to write in slots of time if my days are busy. Writing away from my work area if it's more convenient to write somewhere else. Or even, heaven forbid, writing in longhand.

Without a candle lit. Or a glass or cup of something I can drink.

Told you I was anal.

But mostly, I need to banish the fear and indecision. Just Do It. Trust creativity--and trust that uncontrolled creativity isn't such a bad thing.

In Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, she describes how to develop what she calls "First Thoughts":

Set a timer. Choose the length of time I want and commit to do the following for the entire period:

1. Keep my hand or fingers moving. This means don't read what I've just written. That's my anal-ness again, trying to get control over whatever it is I think I'm trying to say and say it better, or at least put it in alphabetical order.

2. Don't cross out or delete. This is allowing my Internal Editor (who is even more anal than I am) the power she craves. Even if I write something I didn't meant to write, I need to leave it.

3. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar.

4. Lose control. Eeek!

5. Don't think. Don't get logical.

6. Go for the jugular. If something comes up that strikes fear or vulnerability in my heart, embrace it and keep on writing. It's probably pretty good stuff.

The idea is to push through social politeness and internal censors. To push through my need to control things that are better less controlled. To get to a place of greater truth.

To find energy.

Goldberg writes: Why are first thoughts so energizing? Because they have to do with freshness and inspiration. Inspiration means "breathing in." Breathing in God. You actually become larger than yourself, and first thoughts are present. . . . The present is imbued with tremendous energy.

CR: Deadlock by Iris Johansen

It's all better with friends.


  1. Though I've always hated for someone to refer to being anal, I can identify with this. Of course, I don't have my spices in a row or anything else for that matter. I'm always looking for something-- the story of my life.

    It seems like the moment someone says NaNoWrMo, I drop all pretense of being a careful writer(an ACFW follow-the-rules-writer) and actually produce. I wrote only 30,000 words this year before the holiday took over, but they're a good 30,000--meaning, I can actually do something with them. I thought of them as my 'morning pages'or 'first thoughts.' I wish I had the FEELing of NaNo (the FREEDOM of NaNo) every single day of my life. I think that's the one month I truy feel productive.

    Sad, isn't it?

  2. I think that's one of the gifts of NaNoWriMo we need to keep around and use--that sense of freedom and abandon we almost were FORCED to implement in order to have a shot at the 50,000.

    I'm hoping the First Thoughts exercise can hone that skill enough to call it up whenever I want it . . . uh . . . always?