Friday, October 12, 2007

Healing through writing

I've previously mentioned the online writing course I'm taking and this book, Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider that is our text. I don't like to gush or be repetitive, but I have to talk about this again.

I am having the most amazing writing journey of my life! When I first began to read this book, I was so inspired that I started working on my middle reader. I did okay the first week, but then I hit a block. The same block I've hit at least 20 times before when I've started to seriously work on a novel and can only get so far--usually chapter 1--and then nothing. Even if I have a plot outline, I just cannot go any further. My internal editor kicks in, all my doubts and fears gang up on me and gag me until no words can escape.

But I am now at the end of chapter 1 in WAWO (I'm a week behind the class due to my trip) and have had two days in a row of super fantastic writing.* Not on my WIP. No, that needs to wait a bit while I heal the stuff inside me that is preventing me from writing.

It's sort of like when I weighed 300 pounds and started going to 12 Step meetings. I thought I was there to lose weight, but very soon realized that the weight was the least of my problems. I first had to lose a lot of emotional baggage I was toting around. Once I had healed to an adequate place, the weight loss solution presented itself and the process was very quick, though not simple and easy.

That's what my writing feels like now. Not being able to finish my WIP—any of the 20+ WIPs I have sitting in my drawer—is the least of my problems. First I need to deal with the issues preventing me from writing. This book is bringing them up and allowing me to write about them and expunge them; disarming the demons in my mind that taunt and ridicule so loud I can't hear anything else.

Yesterday I wrote 2,200 words—creative words, metaphorical words, healing words—that all worked together to create a scene, an experience. It was draining and I went semi-catatonic for a few hours, but then I realized something: with that kind of chatter going on in my head it's no wonder I can't finish a book!

Today I did the exercise on Getting Rid of Internal Critics (p 22). I have 17 handwritten pages of a metaphorical story in which I face down and eliminate the demons that keep me from writing. It ended with me finding my "writing place"—that wellspring of inspiration, that safe place from which I can create. It was wonderful.

I know that a lot of you who visit my blog are writers also. I cannot recommend this book more strongly. If the rest of the book is even half as powerful as this first chapter, it will be worth it's weight in pure gold—not just the measly $19.95 plus tax that I paid for it at Borders. (It's cheaper on Amazon. Follow the link.)

I wish that all of you—my virtual writers support group—could take this class with me. I would love sharing specifics and discussing our respective insights. This particular class cycle was by invitation only because it's a prototype, but it looks like it will be repeating the first part of next year. I don't know what the exact dates or cost will be, but I will definitely post about it as the time approaches so that if any of you are interested, you can sign up.


*I emphasize SUPER FANTASTIC because each day that I do classwork, I have great writing experiences. These past two were exceptional.


Now playing on my iPod: The Rose by Bette Midler (substitute "writing" for "love"; and thanks, Suan, for reminding me that I've been forgetting to do my tagline.)

1 comment:

Josi said...

I have to admmit, Karlene, that as exciting as this sounds--it scares the J-ello out of me. I feel like I have such limited writing time and am trying to smoosh it into every crany, the idea of writing 17 pages that aren't in my WIP is frightening. In one sense it makes no sense at all, and yet I feel it. Why is that?

But I love the motivation and I am green with envy. I've hit a wall with my WIP also--truly I can't move it forward. I'm editing and fixing but I am so scared of screwing it up that I won't add to it. Maybe I need this book more than I think. . . keep gushing. It might take me another few blogs to help me take the next step.