Another blogger recently wrote about the joys and frustrations associated with a collaborative writing project. With regard to the development of a fictional character when several writers have input into his/her future direction, he said:
We each cannot say with certainty what will happen next, only that we will have to accept it, process it, and make use of it.
I’ve been thinking about that sentence since I read it early yesterday morning.
It seems to me that blogger succinctly summed up the experience of writing, no matter what the genre, when we authentically tap into our creative energy source.
When we sit down to write, if we are able to let go of our fears, inhibitions, perfectionism, and self-doubt, it is impossible to predict what will happen next, no matter what type of written product we are working on. It is when I am able to get into my “zone” — a place of pure, uninterrupted focus upon the words and their meaning — that I do my best work. Those times are few and far beyond, unfortunately, because of the everyday demands upon my time and attention. But they are completely pleasurable and satisfying times, and I can look at certain pieces i have written when I was able to achieve that level of intense concentration and say, almost invariably, that the end product differs from what I thought I was going to write when I began. There is value in surrendering and letting the words lead you.
Chalk it up to the old cliche: We do our best work when we get out of our own way. The principle applies to any endeavor, of course, and is not limited to writing. But it is particularly applicable to writers.
And if we are able to overcome our anxiety and silence our highly critical internal editor, we might be able to delve into a new genre or explore new aspects of a genre with which we are familiar.
This week, try to carve out a bit of time and a comfortable place to write. Turn off the telephone, Blackberry, television, iPod, washer, dryer, vacuum cleaner, and anything else that threatens to interrupt your concentration, even if only for a little while. See if you can get into that “zone” of pure, focused energy — again, even if only for a little while — and just write. Send your internal editor on a coffee break, remind yourself that nobody but you need ever read what you write, and don’t stop to correct what you write. Just let the words flow. See what happens when you dive into your writing.
If you really want to push beyond your self-imposed limits, try a different type of writing. For instance, if you’ve never written poetry, challenge yourself to give it a whirl. Remember that no one else is going to read your draft and you might be shocked, but happily surprised by the words that flow out of you when you simply let go and dive, wholly unencumbered, into the process of writing.
Remember that, as that blogger stated, you only have to accept the inherent value of the result; process, but not criticize the resultant content; and then make use of it. Perhaps you will want to continue editing and eventually publish the product of this exercise. Or perhaps you can incorporate portions of what you write into other pieces that you are working on. At a minimum, if you are in a rut, feeling as though your creativity is stifled, I think you will find that this deliberate effort to break out of your routine will invigorate you and, as he put it, “shake you out of complacency.”
Leave a comment, letting me know what projects you are working on and how they are progressing.