I ventured into an actual bookstore this week for some inspiration on how to write. I was just looking for a few titles in the non-fiction section – maybe journaling exercises or anything that might create sparks to help me reach a little deeper, or come across a little better. What I found, and purchased, was a “how-to” book by a fiction author that I have enjoyed reading in the past. The book is “Escaping Into the Open” by Elizabeth Berg. There were a few others there as well but I curtailed my enthusiasm (and drooling) to just one book. Later, I confess, I purchased some of those books online, but I’ll discuss them later because they are hilarious and “outside the box” for writing.
So, I thought I’d take the homework from the first chapter and write it out. It’s a self-discovery chapter with questions about why you write and where you write, even whether or not you have a special place to write. Beginnings are always a good place to start and maybe this will be enlightening to someone who has the “itch” to write. This chapter made it easy to bridge from the “itch” to the “scratch” if you need a good place to get rolling in your own writing.
The homework began with “lie down, close your eyes, and clear your mind” … I did a little daydreaming and here’s where it went…
I hated writing as a child. It was always homework and I despised it. Even when we were doing something creative like an imaginative story, and not an essay, I would not be able to do it. Writer’s block came to my 4th grade mind – I knew it well! I remember one poem I wrote and liked, but considering it was Haiku and it had built-in boundaries, I know it came pretty easily. I’m good at following rules, not free expression. I could handle rhyming too, but to this day that Haiku poem is forever etched in my brain.
Me, myself, and I (5)
Went for a wonderful ride (7)
Up to the canyon (5)
In my mind, it is still a brilliant poem! ; )
For the most part, I use journaling and blogging as my chosen form of writing…perhaps with a message to help others where I have stumbled. Humor, anecdotes, or scriptural discussion are the ideas that take up the corners of my mind and fill the pages if I have a chance to write them down. Sometimes my best ideas come when my hands are in the dishwater so my journal, pen, glasses and a free space are all I need to throw down some stuff before it escapes my mind. Later I can go back and expound on it if necessary. Sometimes, it’s months till I work out an idea into something that feels complete.
My need to write comes usually from good reading material or a life-changing event that needs resolution. It all seems to culminate into something I think can benefit others as well as myself. Reading something really good that changes me in some way can always be useful to others and I feel compelled to share it, even if it isn’t the answer for another person’s problems or circumstances … it’s kind of an opportunity to help someone see hope in our common struggles in life. Some things I write are because I feel a need to say them, but maybe just to myself. Truthfully, some of the really cruddy or emotionally overloaded things I write, get ripped out and tossed away so I can “let go” some piece of ugliness inside of me that I know doesn’t do me or God any good. I will admit freely too that I write to keep from babbling to myself out loud…. and for this I think my family is thankful!
One of my favorite discoveries about the desire to write, is that I love jotting down quotes, lyrics, books to read and general ideas. I believe it could be a bit genetic as I used to find lists everywhere that belonged to my mom. She usually had a list, just inside the desk cupboard, with book titles on it for future trips to the library. I always knew about her lists – they weren’t hidden by any means – but their presence amuses me now when I realize how similar my lists are to hers. Some days it saddens me greatly that she’s gone and I can’t share my lists with her. She’d love the comment I made about writing to keep from talking to myself out loud, as that was one of her favorite jokes. She promised that “you’re okay as long as you don’t answer yourself back.”
Well, that bring to a close my first homework assignment from what promises to be a great instructional guide to writing. At least it gives me some direction…and hopefully encouragement to someone else.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.