Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A way of writing

"Instead of composing, they [writers] seem to construct, feeling that they need to be correct and find each right word before they are able to go on to the next."

Ralph L. Walstrom wrote that in The Tao of Writing. When I read this, it hit me: I don't have writer's block. I have writer's block! I am carrying around a brick of rules and conventional styles; the rules of writing have so weighed me down that I never learned to simply put my pen to the paper and let the words write themselves. Free-form writing exercises in school were tortuous for me. Where others dread The Essay, I dreaded free-form writing.

I was talking with Mantra the other day about writing, and she described that magical moment where her characters unfold on the page before her, practically writing themselves. I was jealous (in a very Tao Buddhist sort of way) at what she described. I want that too! I want the words to flow out of me without me having to agonise and re-write and push and pull and struggle with them. I want to forget the rules, forget about acceptable punctuation and proper grammar and just write. For the sake of writing, of telling a story and making people feel something.

Still a huge fan of Strunk and White, I'll try to forget about convention and suitable words usements. The truth is, as much as I love writing I think I'd make a much better editor than writer.

Tonight's goal: write without editing myself as I go. Ugh.


MattW said...

I've been feeling compelled to write lately. I just need to think of something to write about. I may be lacking in originality.

Ravenna said...

mental constipation sucks. perfection sucks.

Maybe, just write with your eyes closed more- and who cares if it gets all over the furniture.

MargauxMeade said...

I find that the more I write, the more I experience the phenomenon Mantra described. It's kind of a weird paradox--getting over writer's block means you have to write--but it's true. In the beginning of my writing career, I'd agonize over every sentence and worry about paragraph construction, but then once I started getting tighter and tighter deadlines and I knew I had to just get it down, that's when the words would flow--and, surprisingly, in an organized fashion. It's a little bit harder for me now that no one else is imposing deadlines on me, but when I feel stumped, I try to just force myself to write, no matter what.

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