Feeling My Way Forward
I often start my Fearless Writing classes by asking my students to describe a “good day of writing.” I’ve learned, however, that I need to be specific about what I’m asking them to describe. Most of what I get are glowing lists of results: The words fly from my fingers; my characters start talking; I write 2,000 words in an hour; I’m proud of how good my stuff sounds when I reread it. This is all fine, but not that helpful – to me or them. If these results are all we know of a good day of writing, then those good days will remain mysterious and probably intermittent. Sometimes The Muse speaks, and sometimes She doesn’t.
What I want to know is what it feels like to have a good day of writing. What is the actual felt, living, human experience when the writing is going well? How would you describe it to someone who’s never had a good day of writing, whose only experience of writing is emails, term papers, and business plans? What does it feel like to lose track of time? What does it feel like to be in the state of mind where you can be surprised by your own ideas? What does it feel like when the absolute right word comes?
Perhaps you can’t put it into words just now – but that’s okay. You know what it feels like because you’ve lived it. Or perhaps, like so many of my students, you’ve only thought about the results and how glad you were for them. Writers are practical people, after all. We do need to produce. And yet all the best production, all those fabulous, exciting, profitable, laudable results flow from a specific state of mind, a state of mind I do not always inhabit in my domestic, non-writing life.
Which is why I’ve learned, before I write, to focus first of what I want to feel like while writing before I start thinking about what I will write. What I want to write will come, but only from that relaxed, curious, patient, open, interested, listening mindset. In fact, when I get really twisted up about results, about how good my stuff is or what other people think of it, it’s only because I’m hoping some result will leave me feeling as good as the best day of writing always does. You see how backwards things can get? Nothing can create the opposite of itself. If I want more of something, especially a feeling, I should find it wherever it’s closest and follow it, from word to word, page to page, story to story.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com