Writing advice, No. 2

Today’s writing advice: “Let the words flow.”

(Read on for more … and please share yours!)

This week I began writing in earnest.

Let me clarify: I’m always writing something. Blog posts. Consulting assignments. Notes to myself — from to-do lists to musings on life.

This week, I took my own best writing advice to heart and began investing in something longer, something that I can envision growing into the book I’ve been putting off for a long time, something that is going to take a lot of A.I.S.

(If you missed my post where I shared my best piece of writing advice — A.I.S. — you can find it here.)

Today was Day 3 on my new Earnest Writing Plan, and I am approximately 5,500 words in. Do I think these words are in their final form? Haha, no. That’s not how I work.

But I am excited about how a story is emerging, and surprised — even intrigued by — the direction the thoughts are heading. When I write, my mind makes connections that my non-writing mind misses. (Sometimes, as a person, I learn a lot from my writing mind.)

So today’s piece of advice is this: Let the words flow. If they aren’t flowing, write about something else until they do.

The other day I mentioned my writing project to a writer-friend. “I found myself holding an out-of-control metaphor by the tail,” I wrote in my email. “It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was interesting for a little while!”

By the end of my writing time, I had pruned that metaphor back into something I could live with.

But I never would have found it had I not just let the words and ideas flow and take me for that wild ride!

Let it flow …

Would you like more thoughts on how to get your writing started? Check out my post about the visual artist Jackson Pollock and how his techniques have inspired me (and my students) to get started on a piece of writing!

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

9 thoughts on “Writing advice, No. 2

  1. Congratulations! I am glad to hear that you are starting to write your next book. Do you need a reader? I am happy to be one. I loved it the last time.

    I am back to some regular writing. My once a month on the second Friday writing and art class is meeting again and I am loving it. A friend who writes is agreeing to meet for lunch and sharing writing starting in December. We are trying it as a way to push away the doldrums. She used the word “wintering” in her email and I love it. I am going to use it like a prompt to write something for our lunch meeting.

    You asked about my health—I am doing well with just an occasional problem with head pain and/or mild vertigo. It is still the healing from the trauma to my head.
    It may go away but it may not. If it is all I have to deal with as a result of the terrible year I have put in, I will be OK with that. We shall see.

    Now I must also start on regular exercise, not just when I feel like it. Hopefully that will be soon. The holiday season will be upon us soon. Hope yours are all happy and fun. carolann

    1. Carolyn, it’s so good to hear you are doing well — and writing again! Hooray! The word “wintering” sounds like an excellent prompt that could go many directions. Hmmm …

      I appreciate your offer to read my work and might take you up on that when when it’s more solidified. Thank you! Your feedback was so valuable to me on the first book.

      Take good care! ❤

    1. Thank you, Stuart! Funny you should mention morning pages … I recommended the practice in a recent issue of my e-newsletter and just yesterday added the idea in the queue for my blog.

      A certain retired English professor read this post yesterday and sent me a note telling me that I’m echoing the rhetorician Peter Elbow, who turned the way composition was taught on its head.

      Apparently, when said professor (hi Dad) was learning to write, he and his classmates were taught to think before they wrote down any words, so they could be certain they were only writing down the *right* words. Then, Elbow came along and released students from this tyranny of writing perfection, encouraging the use of freewriting and writing groups. As Elbow’s website says, he pursued “the democratization of writing” (http://peterelbow.com/about.html).

      I love that turn of phrase — “democratization of writing” — because everyone has valuable stories to share, and no one should hold back for lack — or fear — of perfection. Has anyone ever written the “perfect” story?

      My dad, who taught writing to thousands of students (and continues to teach me today), says, “Your metaphor example makes the point so well: that not-the-right word we put down might help us find our way to the right word — as well as keep the flow going, as you’re saying. Great!”

      His message makes me think: Maybe today’s writing advice — go with the flow — has more to do with having the courage to let go. And that is certainly easier when we are writing in an atmosphere of encouragement.

      Thanks again, Stuart, for encouraging me to take the idea just a little bit further. 🙂

      1. I’ve interacted with loads of people on here, but this comment is one of the best replies I’ve ever read. I don’t think I can do it justice through my reply, but just thought I’d let you know what I thought, lol. Thanks for this!

  2. I suggest listening to calm, soothing music – something I do whenever I”m writing/working at my computer. I have a couple of stations on Spotify – Instrumental Study is one. The music calms me and helps me focus. I think we can be our own worst enemies in terms of coming up with new ways to distract ourselves. But music allows me to enter a world where all is well and my brain relaxes into my writing or whatever it is I’m doing.

    1. Great advice, Meg — thanks for sharing it! Makes sense to me, since you are such an audio-attuned person.

      I remember back in my college years, I usually studied and wrote to the sounds of Kitaro, George Winston and the Windham Hill collections. (Whoa — just like that some of those melodies popped to mind, and along with them I can practically hear the snowflakes ticking on the windowpanes of my dorm room!)

      More recently, though, I started thinking about the role rhythm plays in my writing, so for some years now I’ve written in as much silence as I can find. The idea is that silence will help me hear and write to my own rhythm.

      Now you’ve made me wonder … if I were to look back at my college-era writing, would I hear echoes of Kitaro or George Winston? Or did my own rhythm come through all along? Hmmm.

      As with everything, some tactics work for some writers but not others, and some work at certain times of life (or times of day) but not others. Like yoga postures!

      Now that’s some subject-matter mission creep … I’d better sign off! ❤

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