A brief note: I’ve been having trouble with my website host, which is why I haven’t posted here for a couple of weeks. I’m doing a lot of blogging over at Medium, and you can see my posts here. I’ll keep posting my Love Letter every Sunday, but look for lots more articles about writing, inspiration, productivity and creativity on my Medium pages. And, if you want to get my Love Letter directly into your inbox, you can sign up for that in the form to the left of this letter. I wasn’t sure what to write for this edition of my love letter.
Usually, I get an idea and it gathers steam throughout the week. Then, when it is time to put it all together, the words flow fairly easily.
But this week has been busy with a variety of things. I had a meeting of my bi-weekly critique group, I’m taking a class on self-publishing, and there’s the usual work for clients and my own writing. On top of that, my daughter was organizing the annual auction for her kid’s school, which was Friday night, and that required more of my time for picking up mini boyfriends from school and accompanying them on scooter rides to poach books from our favorite Little Free Library.
And so the clogged-up brain didn’t have much chance to cogitate on a love letter.
And I was facing the dreaded blank page.
Here’s what I try to remember to do in such situations: create a container.
No, I’m not urging you to start gardening, though it is a lovely activity. I’m talking about creating a container for your writing.
This is usually entails opening a file, giving it a name, and saving it. Simple, right? But there’s something about the act of making space for the next creation that helps to nudge it into being. I did this for this edition of the newsletter and I do it all the time for the next chapter of my book.
(Yes, I open a new file for each new chapter of the novel. Some people like to write it all in one file, and I have done that. I did it when I wrote Emma Jean. But it is easier for me to look at each chapter as a discrete unit, with rising and/or falling action, if I have it saved into separate files. And yes, I also know Scrivener makes compiling and un-compiling easy. But I’m still a Scrivener resister.)
You know the old saying—nature abhors a vacuum. And I do find this to be true. (So many of those old sayings are, which is why they’ve become clichés.) If you create a blank space, nature will rush in to fill it. Well, maybe not rush. There may be mental strolling.
I’ve been doing most of my blogging on Medium lately, and when I have an idea for a post, I open a new page on their site, and fill in some notes. Often, I don’t finish all in one sitting. So I’ve got several ongoing drafts going. As I think of things, I add them. At some point, it all comes together and I actually write the whole article.
There are other ways to create containers for your writing, too. Like buying (or recycling) a three-ring binder, for notes for your novel or memoir. Or getting your hands on a new journal or spiral notebook. Or opening up a new pack of index cards and arranging them in a holder. Oh, the promise of new office supplies!
And, come to think of it, a journal is a great container for your thoughts, your ideas, and your inspirations. While I still love pen on paper above all else, even your phone can be a container for your creativity. Open a file and write away. Capture your ideas before they float away.
Creating a container gives you a space to go that’s yours alone. Ready to be filled with all the glorious words.
Things of Note
Here are my latest articles from Medium. (These are friend links, so you should be able to read them even if you’re not a paying customer.)
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, by Austin Kleon. I still have this on my bedside table and read a bit every night. Fun and inspiring
Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger I got this one from the Book of the Month Club. I’d read a bit about it and was curious. The BoMC said it was a “difficult” read which almost turned me off. But I chose it anyway. And I’m glad I didn’t let that deter me. I’m really enjoying it. Not a lightning fast read, but who cares? She’s the kind of author that writes does detailed scene setting in a way I admire.
Here’s my ko-fi, where you can buy me a cup of coffee or any kind of drink you’d like (so far it has been running toward wine). Thank you in advance for the treat!
The Story Writer’s Path—I’m teaching at the Sitka center on the Oregon coast this June. This is a beautiful location conducive to learning and writing, and it is incredibly inexpensive. Like $170 for three full days of teaching. Crazy, huh? We’ll go through all the things you need to do to prep to write a novel. You’ll leave ready to write—and that’s the only part of the process I can’t help you with! Click here for more info.
France 2019—Come to south of France with me! Find all the details here. We already have a number of people committed, so sign up soon.
And of course, don’t forget to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already. I post lots of good links and often we get some good conversation going.
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