Writing into the Dream – a six-week experiment in becoming a more productive writer
In this experiment so far, we have said we would do our best to write every day, for at least fifteen minutes; we would ask our writer-self what to write on; we would schedule a block of writing time; and we would write a letter to our writing (or your drawing, photography, etc.).
Let’s compare notes!
What I learned this week
When I was in graduate school for creative writing, one of our professors assigned this exercise – Write a letter to your own writing. Some of us thought it was awkward, to say the least. – What? – a letter to my own writing? Nah, I’m in graduate school to write new poetry! – or plays! – or memoir! – or fiction! Why would I write to my own writing?
But we were introduced to the notion that our writing has something it wants to be. Rather than always imposing a plot or an external structure on our poem-play-memoir-fiction, we were asked to try finding out from our work what it wanted to be. It sounds a little strange, especially if you read “how to” books for writing novels or screenplays, which exhort you to use the “narrative arc” or the “3-act structure” for your work.
Even though I had written letters to my writing before this, this week I did something a little different. Following a reader’s lead, I tried writing a letter to one specific piece of writing. I had a couple of stories that were not working. So I thought, why not?
On Monday last week I wrote a letter to one of my stories: What do you want to be? The story responded with an unusual and captivating voice, which was great, for me – it helped me learn what direction to try to take in the story. Here is what I wrote:
[Me] What do you want to be?
[Story] The thing I want to be is the smart, funny, deeply rich, imaginative story. I like having the little collage pieces [at the beginning] because they add such interest. People wonder, huh, what’s that about? It’s like coming up to a dessert tray that has lots of tiny little sweets, of different sorts, and being jazzled by each one.
[Me] Jazzled? That’s a great word.
Yes, I hesitated before I wrote it. But it’s fine to be strange.
[Me] And how do you think Charlotte [the main character] fits into all this?
Charlotte is the catalyst, the translator, the transformer. She is the one around which everything sizzles. Like electricity that sparks. She can be there and not there at the same time.
[Me] Huh. I think we haven’t gone big enough before. . . . (and so on)
How about you? Did you discover anything new about your writing, or about a specific piece of writing, when you wrote it a letter? Or perhaps, by writing to your writing, you were able to affirm its value and the creativity that you are expressing through your writing. Did you feel any differently after writing the letter?
Productive Writer Strategy No. 5 – Write early in the day.
Write early in the day. I’m going to offer this strategy with a caveat: we all have our own moments of the day when we are more productive than at other times. Some of us are night owls, where others are early birds. Do you leap out of bed and plunge into your tasks for the day? Or do you like to stay up late, after dark, and get your work done while most of us are sleeping?
It’s good to write during your “best” times of the day, if you can, whether that’s early in the morning or late in the day. You’ll just get more done for the time that you put in. However . . .
. . . consider writing early in the day. Just for this week, try to make time early in the day to sit down at your computer, or with a pen/pencil and notepad, and write. (Even if only for your fifteen minutes!) One advantage of writing early in the day is that it is often a time in which your mind is clear, not yet muddled by the myriad tasks you have to take care of (email, appointments, etc.). A second advantage is that by writing early in the day, you will always have time to write again later, where that is less true if you wait until late in the day.
This week, try writing every day, try to schedule at least one “block” of writing time during the week, and experiment with interacting with your writing or your writer-self in a non-judgmental, accepting way. Don’t guilt yourself if you can’t write as much as you’d like to, don’t feel ashamed if the writing does not seem to form itself the way you had expected. Just … write.
And, try writing early in the day. You may be surprised!
Share your thoughts!
We are in this together! Feel free to add a reply-comment about how your week went – what you learned, how you felt. Have you been able to interact with your writing? Have you found yourself writing more often or for longer periods? Are you feeling good about your writing, or are you feeling not-so-good, and why?
As always, I wish you the gift of finding your own voice, and of enjoying your own creative expression.
Looking forward to hearing from you!