Writer’s Loft

Stranded, or Withholding Judgment


Currently, I am temporarily residing in the lovely and fast-growing city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, home of Middle Tennessee State University, which is the home of the writing program I co-direct, the Writer's Loft.  (Our fall workshops and orientation are next week and there are still a few spots left. You can come on Friday for the low cost of $50, and there will be workshops with Whitney Ferre and Kathy Rhodes. Check out the website for more info.)


I left Portland on Tuesday, expecting to arrive here that night.  Instead, I arrived on Wednesday night, after an unexpected stranding in Houston.  There was a hurricane, they said.  So they had to cancel flights. The weather looked like a lot of hot, steamy rain to me but what do I know?  I got the last room at the airport Marriott and barely slept all night, worried about my flights the next day, even though the bed was soft and bedbug-free (I checked) and the pillows plump and numerous.


Next morning, bright and early, I landed on a flight to Newark.  From there, I'd catch my connection to Nashville.  Never mind that it makes absolutely no sense to fly all the way across the country from one coast to the other and then double back again.  But, this turned out to be the best part of my adventure, even though I thought that hanging out in the airport bar with a bunch of stranded travelers would be.  (Can I just say that Mad Men are alive and well in this millennium?  In the time I drank two glasses of wine, the businessmen sitting beside me at the bar downed three mixed drinks and three glasses of wine.  Gee-zus.) Because upon hearing that I was a writer, the friendly flight attendant invited me to join him in the back of the plane.  I sat on the jump seat as he regaled me with ideas for screenplays, jokes, and classic lines of dialogue from movies.  This made up for the fact that there were no blankets and it was freezing (said friendly flight attendant made the pilots turn up the heat) and that an Angry Bald Guy who punched the overhead compartment in his fury was sitting next to me.

My point to this story? Well, as the title hints, it is that we often shut ourselves down to interesting adventures and experiences because we're so worried and judgmental.  Upon hearing that my flight had been cancelled, my first thoughts were dread and fear.  Where would I stay?  What if there weren't any rooms?  What if I really couldn't make it to Nashville until Thursday, as they initially told me?  How would I cope without my suitcase?  I was already pre-judging my experience before I'd even started to experience it.  So I made a conscious effort to let all that go, and just hang in there and go with the flow.  And it worked out great.  I hung out in the bar, met an interesting fellow writer, saw the Manhattan skyline from the Newark airport, and made it to Nashville in only minorly stinky clothes.  In short, I had an adventure.  And I loved every minute of it.

And now here I am in Murfreesboro.   And I'm determined to celebrate and enjoy whatever comes my way, good or bad, without pre-judging.  After all, life's an adventure.

What do you pre-judge?  Um, your writing, perhaps?  I do that, too.  But that's a post for another day.

Photo credits: airplane by Richard_B, courtesy of MorgueFile, Marriott Houston from TripAdvisor, screaming man, Brbankston from Everystockphoto, downtown Murfreesboro from Pollinator, via Wikipedia.

The Benefits of Writing Daily

I've been working, the last few days, on writing the workshop I'll be giving in Nashville next weekend.  I base this workshop on my Writing Abundance: Seven Practices of the Prolific and Prosperous Writer system.  Each one I do focuses on several different practices, so I always end up going back over the whole thing.  One of the practices I'll be focusing on this time is the practice of Creating, and in the process I wrote about why writing every day is so good for you.  I probably don't even have room for this in the workshop–I've got way more content than time–so I thought I'd share it here. 

Writing every day, for me, is like having a nutritional IV drip.Casino_play_loser_222035_l

Have you ever been to a casino where they have plastic cards you can charge up with money and then wear around your neck on a mini-bungee cord?  And then people sit with their cards in the machine while it is still hanging from the bungee cord around their neck and it looks like they are on life support. 

This is what writing every day does for me. It feeds me.  Here are some other benefits:

  • It keeps you constantly connected to the work.  As you go about your day, your mind will drift back to the scene you were working on that morning.  This is good, as it allows your subconscious to go to work on it.
  • It establishes momentum.  You get carried forward when you work every day.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again.  You don’t have to reread to familiarize yourself with where you were when last you wrote.
  • It teaches you fluency.  The more you write, the easier the words are to put on the page.
  • Writing every day reminds you of who you are and what is important to you.  It's the writing, smarty.
  • It gives you a sense of accomplishment—you made a commitment to do the most important thing in your life, and you accomplished it.  This patina of success will polish your whole day.
  • Let's face it, writing every day makes you feel good.  We need us more of that.
  • Because it reminds you that you are having a great experience—living life—and that living life, in and of itself, is worthy of writing about.

Now for some people, not writing every day is better.  I’m all for finding what works for you.  But for me, if I don’t write at least something I slough off.  And pretty soon days have gone by without me getting anything done….at least on my novel.  But for those of you who absolutely insist, tomorrow's post will be about the benefits of not writing every day.