Tag Archive for claiming time

Closet Writing Sanctuary

closetwriter“When I get really stressed, about to boil over, I head toward my closet.”

Totally serious and willing to share, my friend, a woman I’d known since our teenage years, went on.

“You’ve seen my closet, right?  You saw the chair?”

Nope, just a big walk-in closet in a big house seriously packed with lots of clothes.

“I go in and sit in the dark so no one can find me.  It’s childlike, going in and hiding.   Soon, I’ll turn on the light, grab a stashed legal pad, and start writing.

Why do you do this?

“I don’t want to be mean to people.  If I hide, I can mellow out and deal with more stuff, like I’ve always done, without losing it.”

When did you start?

“I started 15 or 20 years ago.  I hit a level of ‘I can’t deal with things.’ Everybody calls me.  They think I can handle anything and will fix their problems. I started writing my whole life, wrote until my hand cramped.”

She explained as she moved forward, particular incidents surfaced that needed attention. One example was about a family issue, something said that made her feel like a bad mother, something I can attest is far from her nature.

“It was 20 years later, but writing allowed me to let it go.  It had hurt my feelings, but it wasn’t true.  When I put it on paper, I could see it and not take it personally.  It was just how it was said to me.”

How often do you read your writing?

“Sometimes I read it pretty quickly.  Sometimes I never do.  There’s no rhyme or reason.”

So are all the pads in your closet?

“They are in drawers under underwear, hidden in other closets, in filing cabinets, stuck behind things.”

Has anyone every found them and read them?

“My husband found something I’d wrote and read it.  I didn’t feel betrayed because my writing is honest.  It’s how I felt and who I am, plus I never hide anything from him.”

Do you ever destroy them?

“I’ve shredded some after a few days when I didn’t like the way they sounded.  Then I rewrote them more clearly.  The letters to people I never send.  I talk to them or let it go.”

She doesn’t call her writing journaling.  It’s more of a diary, but there’s many of them, none with lock and key.

What if you died and your writing was left behind?

“I wouldn’t care if they were read because there’s not anything bad, just actual things that happened and how I felt about it.  Sometimes I look at it and think ‘this is so stupid’ or ‘I should be in the looney bin for keeping this in my mind so long.’”

We laughed, an expression common to our relationship.

Is your writing sometimes a prayer?

“Probably sometimes, some of them maybe.  Sometimes it’s a way to let go of my anger and forgive.”

Then outfitted with peace through writing, her wise coping mechanism, she reemerges and connects, in the same way she did with me.

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

A Blunt Object To Ease Self Doubt

Anne.Hathaway.Golden.Globes.2013Accepting her Golden Globe statuette for her performance in “Les Misérables,” Anne Hathaway humbly thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association “for this lovely blunt object, that I will forever use as a weapon against my self-doubt.”  A humble admission of her truth from this graceful, poised movie star.

As writers, we are just like Hathaway — creative people who do our best work when we access the whole of our being.  The brightest side is often the easiest; the balance to that is found in the dark places.  Like the brave explorer or mythical hero, we have fierce dragons to face and steep mountains to conquer.  Those are the hills and valleys of our lives.  The conflict and resolution is what makes our stories inviting, relatable and captivating as the reader gets a feeling of camaraderie or perhaps simply a reflection into who they are, where they may go and what they may overcome.  This brings the laugh, the smile, the tears.

Don’t wait for an award.  Claim one.  I claimed one early on – my first bylined published feature article.  When I felt that I couldn’t move forward through the insecurity, I would look at it, know I’d achieved, and I could go that far and take, maybe, just one more step.

Perhaps it’s a note from a teacher or an editor, even one bit of feedback you’ve penciled on a post-it from another writer you respect.  Maybe it’s a quote that inspires you.  Maybe it’s a soulful message you affirm for yourself from the depths of your inner truth.

Whatever it is, you don’t have to use it as a weapon.  You don’t have to hit yourself in the head with it.  But get it into your head as your truth.  No bludgeoning required.

Stand up and take the stage as your creative heart enthusiastically applauds your progress.  Firmly grasp your award, smile victoriously, and with all the happiness that pours from you, sincerely say ‘thank you.’

Then move forward and write some more.

Affirm:  I seek and find an honest declaration to motivate writing from my heart.  I gracefully write from both light and dark places as all contain the many colors of my truth. 

The Year Of The Writer

Runner“I’ll revise the first chapter just once more, polish it up, then I’ll head into the next chapter,” she said with the bravado of certain finality.

I tilted my head and inhaled deeply.  “Consider accepting the win and moving on.”

“What win?  Why?” she asked, scrunching up her face.

“Because you have a strong foundation with the characters, plot, setting, and tone.  Go on to the next part.”  I sipped some tea.  “Discover a little and feel the movement.  Play.”

“I kinda want to get this chapter right—“

“It is right,” I interjected.  “And know that when you move forward through the other chapters, the story’s nuances will reveal themselves to you while you aren’t studying your work, but breathing along with your writing.”

Writers put so much pressure on themselves to get that first chapter, or even that first sentence, absolutely perfect before continuing the journey.  Witnessing this is like watching a sprinter leap forward at the starter pistol, then abruptly stop and return to the blocks to try and get the first step better while the race finishes down the stretch.

This is also how many of us look at the new year — as the fresh beginning, as the new first chapter, as the ultra-important opening line.  We make resolutions to do this or that, and they are mighty heavy packs to run with, pacts the vast majority of us drop within a few weeks or even a few days.

In 2013, release the pressure and feel the freedom.  Love your creative self.  Enjoy the levels of process to get from beginning to end successfully and the successive laps as you breathe into your writing.  Yes, there will be practice runs, lots of them.  There will be spills and tumbles.  And there will be adjustments through revision and editing, but by taking the steps at a good clip, embracing the grace of change, accepting the powerful lessons from missteps and the beauty of surprise, the story will smooth itself out, and you will run a fine race as a writer.

If writing is a desire in your heart, resolve to write, whether for yourself or an audience, whether formally or frivolously.  Whatever you write – thoughts and secret admissions in a journal, essays for a memoir, scenes for a screenplay or novel, a newsletter feature, song lyrics, poems of love, lust or loss, scribbles in notebooks or notes on napkins — feel the win every time you lay down the words.  Celebrate every single one this glorious new year and keep moving forward.  And make this the year of you, the writer.

Writer’s Affirmation:  I claim each day as a fresh opportunity for creative exploration.  Because I write, I can call myself ‘a writer.’  I feel good with every word I write, and I build upon this positive feeling by returning to write more.

Penciled In

She rescheduled her appointment…again.  I realized that if this was her habit with our appointments, it was probably happening with her writing.  “Thought about, then put off until later knowing it would sit and wait just like it did yesterday.” As disappointed and frustrated as I felt, I had to admit sometimes I do this myself.  At times, we all do.

Life happens and priorities are rearranged, but how often do you put other things ahead of your writing time?  Is it worth having personal creative time ‘inked in’ on your calendar?  Does it deserve your vigilance in protecting the commitment you make with yourself?

I know that for me, the ‘stuff of life’ seems to fit and flow better when I’ve spent time writing in my journal, maybe crafting a piece for my blog, and sometimes working on my book.  I feel more complete and balanced.

Put writing on your agenda, plan the time, and honor the schedule.  Keeping the appointment is caring for and nurturing your creative self.  It builds into something true and unerasable.