the past few months, I’ve shared with you a few of my faux pas . . . I
mean, helpful tips about writing. It seems I have a knack for doing
strange things in this craft. Though my intentions are well-meaning,
unusual occurrences seem to hunt me down like a mad dog, nipping at my
It causes me great confusion.
This confusion spins me in
circles at times. You know, the type of behavior that makes folks
think, “The woman’s missing a limb from her tree,” or, “She’s a blade
of grass short of a lawn,” or, “She’s ‘the one’ who flew over the
cuckoo’s nest,” or . . . You get the idea. A few years ago, I had to
write on the topic “desire.” Sounds easy enough, right?
I thought so, but when I sat
down at my desk and looked at the monitor, I went blank, suffering a
severe case of writer’s block. Don’t you hate when that happens?
Me too, so I pounded out my
thoughts in frustration, thinking nobody would ever see the article,
nor would I use it for a submission. Wrong. Heaven
forbid I’d leave well enough alone. I later changed my mind.
Before I go any further, I’ve
decided to show you a portion of this story. (Hang in there with me.
There is a method to this madness.) After reading this, though, you
might conclude that I need medication. Perhaps. On the other hand, once
you’ve trudged through to the end, you may need sedation. If so, I
apologize ahead of time.
Hmmm. Desire for God.
D-E-S-I-R-E. Ooh la la, desire. Desire for chocolate. Desire to be
famous. Humph. No matter how I sounded this word out, I wasn’t getting
anywhere on the subject. My thoughts scurried as I tapped my pencil on
does this word
escape me? I’m clueless. Wait, I know the problem. My brain is on
sensory overload. I’ve had too much going on around here. I need to
close my eyes and breathe.
inhaled—one, two, three, and
four; and exhaled—five, six, seven, and eight. I performed this
exercise several times. I opened my eyes and stared at my monitor.
my fingers through my
hair, thinking it would stimulate my gray matter, I spelled the word
aloud. “D-e-s-i-r-e.” Have you ever repeated a word until it no longer
makes sense? I rested my head in my hands, and my brain began to
are an idiot. How
difficult can this be?
“Oh, shut up.” I argued back.
“You annoy me. Leave me alone. I’m trying to think over here.”
that right? Is this what you call thinking? Why don’t you go and read
some of your friends’ stories? They inspire you and get your creative
my brain, I pulled up a
story and began reading. Lucky me, it just so happened to be a
tearjerker. Halfway through, my hand groped for my box of tissues. My
monitor blurred on the other side of my tears, and my brain jumped in
are we? Hmmm?
“No, I’m not!”
a sap. Sheesh, the
story was supposed to inspire you, stupid, not melt you into a puddle.
“God, please help the poor
woman in the story.” I held the tissue to my nose and blew. Honk.
I won’t torture you with the
rest of this banter, but you know what the craziest thing of all is?
The article published. I mean, who would have thought? This alone
should encourage you.
Matter of fact, I wrote another
article (also irritated at the time of writing because my husband made
me mad, which is a whole other story), and it published, too.
Afterward, I thought I had learned an important concept—write when I’m
frustrated or hacked off about something. I know, strange, isn’t it?
After this so-called revelation,
which is where I took a turn onto Crazy Street, I begged my husband to
taunt, mock, and insult me right before I planned to write. He refused.
Can you believe this?
On the other hand, it really
wouldn’t have worked had he agreed. I’m the kind of person who would
have asked, “Wait. You’re just doing this to make me mad, aren’t you?”
Or even when he really is angry with me, and I would have said, “Wait.
You’re just doing this to make me mad, aren’t you?” Need I say more?
No, my real epiphany came when I
figured out that the anger or frustration isn’t what prompted me. Oh,
those fiery emotions got me stoked all right, just ask my husband, but
it was that I wrote like the wind during those times, shutting off my
internal editor, not mulling over what came forth. Prior to the above
article’s publishing, I pored over each word, constantly chiding
myself, Focus! Focus! Focus!
So, you might say, “What’s your
That’s a good question, and
frankly, I don’t have one. Just kidding!
Seriously, the point is that
maybe you could try doing the same. (Go ahead, I won’t tell anyone.)
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and think you have nothing to offer,
pound on your keyboard and give it what you’ve got. Write like mad,
like nobody is watching, like no one but you will ever see your work.
You could be pleasantly surprised. You might just publish.
The best part of all?
You weren’t straining, dripping
blood from a vein, or doing anything crazy, well, at least not
intentionally, to make it happen. Go figure.