Tag Archives | nerves

Writing Inspiration: What Do Your Nerves Tell You?

 

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Gazing at me may make you feel calmer.

Yesterday I told you I had a kick-ass (one can only hope) post on letting go ready for you. Then I got distracted by the need to write about the Sopa Strike. And now here you are and you're reading a post on nerves.  What gives?  It makes more sense to write about nerves first and then letting go.

At least to me.

So, here's the story.  On Sunday, I wrote up the notes for Session Two of my Make Money Writing class.  I did a dry run. I was happy, I felt ready. 

Nerves

Monday morning I awoke with a vague sense of nervousness and when I thought about it, I realized it was around the class.  Now, I always get a little nervous when I'm presenting a class.  And in this case, a few little nerves are good because they are about me wanting the class to be good, and full of useful information. 

But on this day it was more than just pre-class jitters.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized something was wrong.  So I went back to the notes.  Realized I had to rearrange one section.  And add another.  Did another dry run.  This time I felt peace.

 And the class was great.  (At least, I thought so.)

But this incident got me thinking how often nerves are a signal that something isn't working.  There are nerves and then there are nerves.  And we need to learn to pay attention to nerves.

The same thing happens in writing.  The feeling may not manifest exactly as nerves, but in an emotion closely related.  You may have a vague idea that something isn't right, but you don't know what.  Or perhaps it manifests as an inability to get to the page.

Pay Attention

And here's the deal: that feeling is always a signal that something is wrong.  Always.  It may be something as simple as needing to rearrange and add things, as with me.  Or it could be that the scene you are writing is taking place in the wrong location.  Or with the wrong people.  Maybe it is in the wrong order in your chronology.

So the moral of the story is to always, always, always pay attention to the feeling and try your best to identify what might be wrong.  (Good ways to do this include the usual suspects of meditation, free writing, playing hooky, flopping about dramatically on the couch–whatever works for you.) You'll save yourself tons of time in the long run if you pay attention to your nerves.

Has anything like this every happened to you?

A couple of points of interest:

1.  Jessica Baverstock, of Creativity's Workshop fame, is celebrating her 100th blog post today!  She's appeared in these pages regularly, so go pay her a visit to congratulate her.

2.  I have an interview over at Melissa Balmer's Womeonsocalbikes.org.  Its about "Finding the Female Advocate's Voice," and its pretty cool.

Don't forget to sign up for a subscription to my bi-weekly newsletter, The Abundant Writer.  The form is to the right, and you get a free Ebook, too!

Photo by D.C.Atty, from Everystockphoto.  And check out the cool new feature on Typepad–captions, yay!

 

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Feel the Fear and Write it Anyway

We interrupt the current series on scene to bring you this post on writing, fear, and creativity. 

I was having breakfast with my wonderful Nashville friend Sue (wait, should I say she's from Nashville if she is originally from Portland?) this morning and we started talking about feeling skittish and being nervous and anxious.  (Did the world financial situation have anything to do with this conversation? You be the judge.) 

I allowed as how I've recently realized that I'm nervous or scared pretty often these days. I travel alone a lot, and that makes me nervous.  I meet new people all the time, and that does, too.  Staying at home makes me nervous that I'm missing things out in the world.  And then we get to writing.  As my sister would say, gee-zus.  I attempt to write emotional truths in my novel and then I think about what my 92-year-old mother will say and I get nervous.  Or I write these true confessions in this (very public) blog and that makes me nervous.

But here's the deal:  I'm so used to the feeling of being nervous that I rarely even notice it anymore.  Ratchet it up to terrified (say, book deal) and you'll get my attention, maybe.  Meanwhile I go about my business being happily scared half out of my mind, doing it anyway: boarding the plane and hoping some kind gentleman will volunteer to lift my heavy laptop bag to the overhead compartment, meeting the new client, and opening up a new page to write on the computer or the spiral journal. 

I'm finally beginning to realize that if you're not scared, you're not living.  If you're not putting your nerves on the line on a regular basis, it is time to dial it up a notch.  This is true in garden variety living life, and its true in writing. 

Fear is the flip side of creativity.   But you can–and must–harness it.  Maybe there's a creative person somewhere on the planet who doesn't experience fear, but I don't know where that someone is.  If you find him or her, let me know.  Meanwhile, here are some ideas for harnessing fear in the service of creativity:

What you resist, persists.  Like anger or any other strong emotion, you can't let fear drive you but if you try batting it away, that doesn't work so well, either.  Try just letting it be.  Acknowledge it and then go write or board the plane or run the marathon. 

Denial is a river in Egypt.  And it is a big river, indeed.  Denial is a tricky mistress because being in denial means you don't realize you have a problem.  Its a brilliant coping mechanism.  Seems to me, though, that even those of us swimming in the depths of that river always see a glimmer of the light of truth.  Swim towards that light.  Allow it to illuminate the fear.

Only way out is through.
  I hate this emotional stuff, because it is so damn hard.  Which is of course, why we resist and go into denial.  But truly the best option is to plow into it.  Have you ever had the experience of resisting and resisting writing and then finally getting to it and having such a blast you wondered what the fuss was about?  I have.  It happens nearly every day sometimes.  Often you just have to walk through the fire.

Just do it.  This is probably about the gazillionth time I've invoked the Nike mantra in this blog.  That's because it is so simple and true.  Honestly?  This is the gist of it all, the kernel, the seed, the nut graph, the takeaway.  The single most important thing in life is to just do it.   Ignore the fear, forget the pain, concentrate on the moment, right here, right now and go write.

And, in case  you need more inspiration, here are some links about creativity you might find of use:

Building Success with Creative Adaptation

How To Write Remarkably Creative Copy

Of Creativity

We'll be back to the regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, with the final post in the series on writing scenes.  Meanwhile, you can read part one here, and part two here.

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