Why you aren’t writing – Reason #5

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This week I’m writing about the one thing that I think stops more people in their tracks when they really want to write more than anything else: FEAR.

We humans are full of fear. About so many things. And that’s okay. BUT… if we really want to write, we have to overcome it. And this isn’t a one-time deal. Our fear is something we have to keep revisiting over and over and over. The fear dragon is that big.

Aside from all the usual fears we might imaging (I’m not good enough, I’ll never make any money doing this, People won’t like what I have to say, People will get angry about what I have to say, People will think I’m weird/crazy for thinking that, etc. etc. etc…), I think there’s one fear, above all others, that stops many people from honoring their compulsion to write.

FEAR OF EXPOSURE

It’s HARD to acknowledge some of thoughts we have knocking around inside us, let alone share them with strangers, and maybe even more so with people who know us.

It takes a lot of courage and a strong sense of self to own our thoughts and words. The pain of not writing has to be greater than the pain that comes with the judgments (or our imagined judgments) of others before we can move through the fear and just write.

Natalie Goldberg says: “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to talk about. Be willing to be split open.”

And In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote about cold cocking the angel in the house (that voice in the head that constantly chastises) with her ink well. Do it! Those voices are the fear. Cold cock the voices. They’re the enemy.

It’s the only way.

How understanding the Third Eye Chakra can help your writing

So far, we’ve looked at how understanding the Root, Sacral, Power, Heart and Throat chakras can help with our writing. This week, we’re looking at the Third Eye Chakra.

The Third Eye Chakra is about our intuition and being able to express our higher nature, so ultimately, it’s about understanding our purpose in life and pursuing it.

image credit: thirdeyeindigo.wordpress.com

image credit: thirdeyeindigo.wordpress.com

As with previous weeks, we first have to begin with a framework of some kind, and as I’ve mentioned before, I find it’s usually easiest to begin with gender and age.

This week, let’s work with a 58-year-old male. We can begin to think about what this chakra governs and what this character might have missed in that developmental stage.

From a generative stance, then, if we draw on one of the primary fears or negative manifestations of this chakra, we can begin to create a foundation for a story. Let’s use the inability to make sound judgments based on the reality of a situation. Let’s imagine that, in this case, it comes in the form of the following scenario: This character has lived in the same town all his life and plateaued at his career years ago. He’s allowed himself to stay stuck due to a fear of leaving because he’s never been able to make the decision to go. Now, he’s been offered a stellar job in another state, but he’s terrified of taking it. The reason: he has a domineering mother who guilt trips him every time he thinks of doing anything that could further his career path. She’s a paraplegic and never misses an opportunity to remind him of this. (He doesn’t fully see how she manipulates him, though. He has taken on the belief that it’s his duty to be near his mother.) From this, then, we can see that he has not developed a healthy sense of self or purpose in life. If he had, he would have moved on years before. Instead, he has let himself be manipulated by guilt. We could begin this with a conversation between him and his mother wherein he’s attempting to break the news to her. What will transpire? Will he finally make his break, or will the story end up with him making the decision to stay put?

From a corrective standpoint, if we’re already working with a 58-year-old male who is having issues with his guilt-tripping mother, we can begin to ask ourselves questions.

  1.  How intuitive is this character?
  2.  How imaginative is he?
  3.  Does he think “outside the box” or is his idea of reality based on what he sees directly in front of him?
  4.  Would you describe him as wise or fearless? If so, how?
  5.  Would you describe him as practical? If so, how?
  6.  How able is he to make decisions?

Where does this take you?

 

Why you aren’t writing – Reason #3

This week I’m writing about how to sort out the endless ideas you have knocking around in your brain. I always liken this condition to a jar full of angry bumble bees. The best thing to do for the poor things is remove the lid and set them free. Same is true for your story ideas.

The first order of business is to get it all outside yourself. You have to.

image from honeybeehaven.com

image from honeybeehaven.com

Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to cranking out stories the world is waiting to read.

  • Get a new notebook (don’t try slogging through the mess of notes you already have)
  • Devote one page to each snippet in your brain: Do you have the physical form of a character? Write only that down at the top of the page and move on to the next page. A name? Same idea. Write it at the top of the next page and move on. Are you hearing dialogue, sound, a voice? An image that won’t leave you alone? Do you have a storyline brewing? A motivation? An obstacle? Allow each piece of information to take up space on the page.
  • Begin to expand on each snippet, one-by-one. This may be hard if you’re a person who has way too many ideas, but each snippet is a nugget for a full-blown story. Give each one ample time and learn to be okay with setting the others aside for now, knowing that you’ll eventually get to each one.
  • If you just can’t possible set all the others aside, set a timer and devote a specified amount of time – say, 15-60 mins. – to each page on your writing day(s).

Sounds too simple, I know. But it will work. Promise.

Please leave your nuggets in the comments below.

How understanding the throat chakra can help your writing

So far, we’ve looked at how understanding the Root, Sacral, Power, and Heart chakras can help with our writing. This week, we’re looking at the Throat Chakra.

The Throat Chakra is about recognizing free will in ourselves and in others and accepting it with compassion. It has to do with how we use our voice to express our will.

image from chakra-anatomy.com

image from chakra-anatomy.com

As with previous weeks, we first have to begin with a framework of some kind, and I find it’s usually easiest to begin with gender and age.

This week, let’s work with a 15-year-old female. When we consider that the Throat Chakra develops between the years of 29-35, we can already see how viewing this character through the lens of the fifth chakra can help build in some inherent tension in the area of self-expression.

From a generative stance, then, if we draw on one of the primary fears or negative manifestations of this chakra, we can begin to create a foundation for a story. Let’s use the fear of having no authority within the tribe. This is a reasonable fear for a teenager, as adolescence is a time when we attempt to individuate from our tribe so we can become autonomous. We can then begin to think about what this character isn’t expressing herself or being heard.

From a corrective standpoint, if we’re already working with a 15-year-old girl who is having issues within her family regarding her desires and her ability to voice them and be heard but we aren’t sure where to go from there, we can begin to ask ourselves questions.

1) What does she want that she’s not getting from her tribe – her family?
2) Why she can’t get it?
3) Is she not voicing her opinion for fear she’ll be shut down, not taken seriously, ignored, or abused?

If you can’t get her talking outwardly, get her to talk inwardly. Start to write down her thoughts and go from there.

Where does this take you?

 

 

Why you aren’t writing – Reason #2

image credit: deviantart.com

image credit: deviantart.com

This week I’m writing about how to write even when you don’t know how or where to begin.

While this may feel forced and artificial at first, it can get you well on your way to getting a story on the page.

Think of this as priming the pump in three steps:

  • Get clear about the story essentials you need to create a workable framework.
  • Plug in the info.
  • Write.

So, what are the story essentials?

1. Imagine a protagonist/main character (think about gender, age, physical appearance and trust that the rest will come). Don’t spend a ton of time on this. Just jot down what comes to mind. The process actually works better that way.
2. Put the character in a space.
3. Give the character a desire.
4. Give the character a reason for the desire.
5. Imagine an antagonist (the person or thing that will interfere with the protagonist’s main desire).
6. Let the antagonist interfere with the first character’s desire.
7. What desire is behind the second character’s actions?
8. Why does the second character have this desire?
9. Make the two characters talk to each other.
10. Fill out the scene(s) by evoking the five senses.

Don’t think it to death.
Just jot down what comes to you quickly.
Trust your intuition.
Make it easy.
Keep writing…

Here’s an example

Protagonist
43-year-old woman with long, wild red hair in a car
Driving across the country to meet her birth mother for the first time

Antagonist
22-year-old guy
On his way to meet his girlfriend at an abortion clinic, rear-ends the protagonist’s car

What happens next…?

IMPORTANT: It doesn’t have to be good at this stage. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll come back and refine it on the rewrite. That’s what everyone does. Even the best writers.

And that’s how you begin.

Do this over and over and over. Before you know it, you’ll have several beginnings you can build on.

Trust me.

Who are your protagonist and your antagonist?