Friday, 29 July 2011

Writing Green & Red Lights

Here's a veritable ah-ha list of random writerly wisdom. Things to avoid and embrace, tried-and-tested tips, from my experience anyway. Voilá:

10 Things/States/Situations Conducive to Writing:

1. Sleep - Like the tooth-fairy, Santa Claus and all things mythic, inspiration usually comes during zzzz time. Can't get an idea? Sleep on it and pay attention to dreamtime doodles and waking-woozy intuitions.
2. Muses - Crush on someone. Obsess. Adore. Worship. Whatever. And write it all down. A writer without a muse is like a journalist without a story, a teacher without a textbook, an architect without a get the gist.
3. Coffee - An essential prop in trying to write. A strong cup of coffee oils the mechanics of the mind. The majority of the great writers are caffeine-addicts. Also helps to counter-act those late-nights.
4. Rainy Days - The ideal climate for writers. Housebound can lead to picking up a pen and creating an exotic setting. There's something about rainy grey days that irrigate the dry plains of a writing drought.
5. Re-writing/Editing - To beat a block, edit an old piece of work or set yourself the task of re-writing a favourite poem or story. Being a secretary to the written word will inevitably spark new words.
6. 4am - The ideal time for creativity. Late night-writing is preferred by many writers. Daytime can equal ennui, but nighttime equals dreams. Ever wake up circa 4 am and find a brilliant idea circulating in the synaspes?? Write into the wee hours for bigger and better ideas, stamped with the seal of starry imagination.
7. Contemplation - i.e. thinking about things deeply while being relaxed. Existentialism especially. Much contemplation is required before writing; the theory before the practice so to speak.
8. Emotion - Writing is sparked by passion, be it anger, love, excitement. But wait until the feeling has cooled before you write - never strike while the iron is hot! As Wordsworth remarked 'poetry is strong emotion recalled in tranquility'.
9.Writers Groups - Can provide the motivation, provided you have the mettle to air your writing in public. Can also provide some competition, which is good for the morale.
10. Nail-Biting - The practice of nail-biting is such a nerve-reducing one, it takes the edge off writing, and not near as distracting as food. While shipwrecked at the computer, a writer could survive on nail-biting for at least a few days...

10 Things/States/Situations Inhibitive to Writing:

1. On-the-spot writing exercises - Á la writing groups specifically. Writing cannot be called forth when required, it is a progressive and patient art, which must be enticed, not enforced. Three-minute express sessions can seriously wound a writer's mojo.
2. Reading - Reading great literature can reduce you to a terrified and stage-frightened  pathethic amateur looking in the face of all the big and powerful pros. Avoid excessive book consumption while in the throes of inking.
3. Boredom - Mind-numbing staring-out-the-window-into-space-sort-of-thing won't conjure up creations, rather it will zombify and zap all intimations of creations...much different to contemplation, which is active inaction. Boredom is passive and involuntary.  If left untreated can lead to imagination gangrene. Beware.
4. Indifference - Oh there it is again, the nasty stun-gun/turned-back syndrome. Not hearing feedback on your writing can seriously stunt a writer's growth. My advice, don't show your writing to fickle friends, only professionals who are in the business of wanting to read and criticise it.
5. Avoidance - Doing the housework to avoid writing will only lead to more housework believe me. Inevitably one chore will lead to another. Get verbal instead of domestic. Clean abode satisfaction will never equal the feeling of filling up pages!
6. Sunny Days - These offer many distractions to the writer, who instead of being huddled up in a dark corner of an attic is enticed to go outside and absorb some light. Never a masterpiece was written while the sun was shining (on a computer anyway).
7. Hourly Slumps  -The 3pm slump is nothing to a writer who has to deal with many a.m. and p.m. slumps. Writing is a lonely  and completely self-dependant business. Keep motivation up by having multiple random breaks I say!
8. Blank Page - Never stare at a blank page for too long. It will fry your optic nerve (in the words of Margaret Atwood...). Start right away to beat the blank, a half-typed or even scribbled page isn't near as scary as a ferocious glaring white one baring fangs.
9. Audience Anxiety - The best writers aren't concerned too much about their audience. Write for yourself first and foremost. Write with an audience in mind, but not grovelling at their feet in fear of being heckled. Being self-conscious will cripple a writer; shout it out loud and proud, regardless!
10. The Block - Uh-oh, the dreaded B-word. Mostly a psychosomatic affliction. Don't give it much time. Beat it by writing over it, under it, through it. And most important of all,  by not believing in it.

Have a lot of experience of the prior unfortunately...

Any WRITERS reading, would love to hear your thoughts on your green and red lights to writing! Anyone run into the same obstacles/encouragements as me?? Would love to know more! Comments/emails most welcome!

~ Siobhán.

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