On Saturday I taught my once-a-month, free-to-all Prompt Writing class. One of the prompts was “What I need for my writing.” I don’t usually give a writing prompt about writing, but when I do it’s almost always profound. I find that people touch on a core issue with their writing life. They see something they did not see before, something that on some level they’ve known is keeping them from the work, but that they have not yet articulated. As writers, we love to put it down on paper. For me, writing it down is how I work it out. This is the value of journaling and doing timed writings, the value of writing that is just for self.
Whenever I do an exercise on writing I too discover something I need to know about my own work, and whatever might be standing in the way of it. Here is an excerpt from my piece. It has given me a new perspective, a twist that allows me to think of serving the writing rather than the writing serving me.
“I need a willingness to stand naked in the unknown. Inspiration? Do I need it? It helps, but I don’t have time to wait for it. I squeeze the writing in. I write here and there, and lately I’ve been having a hard time because of the squeezing. The hereness and thereness of it fractures my concentration, and this fractures the narrative I am trying to create. I feel lost, disconnected, like that guy in 2001 Space Odyssey who got cut loose from the mother ship and floated off in his big white suit. It must have been beautiful to just float in space, until his body started dying.
And that is it. Writing is the mother ship, and I must stay connected to it. But how? What do I need? I think the only way to know the answer to that question is to ask another. What does writing need from me?
It needs me to show up consistently instead of randomly
It needs me to explore, not just a novel, which is a huge commitment, but also short stories, poems, essays. It needs me to play.
It needs me to have confidence that the exploration and play are important.
It needs me to read and enjoy reading.
It needs me to take walks and enjoy nature.
It needs me to stay healthy.
It needs me to find stillness and not fill my schedule with rush, rush, rush.
This is how I will stay connected to the mother ship. This is the only way. This is how the cord will not get severed.”