My Memory and My Writing

Having a good memory is a curse.

My Mom was blessed with a not-as-good-memory. She often tells me how she wishes she could remember stuff the I can: phone numbers, song lyrics, birthdays, people's names...

But as a writer, I'd prefer to not remember a thing.

They it takes about two days for your mind to fully detach from a piece of writing - to forget what was written - so that the writer might look upon it with fresh eyes. But, with a good memory, this time is doubled if not tripled.

I memorize what I write as I write it; the rhythm of the words, everything.

I would much rather forget.

Once I had finished my book (Enslaved) the program I had used to help me write it suggested that I wait about a week to detach my mind from the story, thus editing it more objectively. They pushed for three weeks (I didn't have the time - the deadline was in two); but they said one week should be fine.

But, for me, it wasn't.

I was shocked at myself as I went back to read over my novel. 350 pages, and I had it all practically memorized.

Not good.

How this hurt me during the editing process, I don't know. I haven't read my novel since then - have hardly looked at it. Hopefully, with time, I'll forget most of what I wrote, and be able to bare the sight of my words.

Does this happen to anyone else? Or am I the only writer who prays for a bad memory, when it comes to my writing?

Though, I suppose, if I had a bad memory, I might forget to write at all.


Excitement: The Story

I remember when I first started writing my story.

I say "my story", not meaning the book I actually wrote. I worked on my "story" for years, but of course it was not the story I ended up writing. (It wasn't until years of painstaking revision, rewriting, 3 different versions,  over 300 pages of writing all told,  that I eventually came up with a completely new story - new characters, plot-line, point of view, concept, EVERYTHING - and actually finished a book.)

No, I say "my story" meaning the goofy little novel that I slaved over for the first 5 years of my life as an aspiring writer. The novel that went through three title changes, three main characters, three plot-lines, three writing styles, all centered around one immature, contrived idea. The novel that grew with my aspirations,  improved with my writing, developed with my personality. The novel that shaped me into the writer I am today.

It was the story that excited me the most.

I can still remember the thrill I felt, at nine years old - still remember the fervor with which I wrote, the hours I would spend on the computer ... the joy I would feel when I would finish a chapter, the excitement I had for sharing it. Yes, I still get tastes of that excitement now, usually when I've written a line of prose or poetry that seemed appear on the white paper unbidden. But I hardly feel it the way I did at nine years old, writing that silly novel, begging to be allowed five more minutes so I could frantically pen the paragraphs of prose that were streaming into my head at rapid speeds. 

The excitement ... the thrill!

How I wish I had that excitement whenever I write now! How I wish that those lines of prose would flow so quickly and easily out of me, and bring me that thrill! Then being an writer would be so easy.

It need to find that excitement again - all people who write must find it. Writing is inseparable from excitement. Excitement is contagious. And excitement for writing gives life to the story.

When you are excited to write, that excitement will become contagious.


Why Writers Fear Writing

   Writing is a curious thing.

   It's like talking, but it's not. Sometimes it's more personal than that...other times it's as flat as an old pile rug with all the yarn plucked out.  It's a communicative, open, free-flowing line of prose; it's a cold, dry, cryptic, closed off word - 'Beware!'
   Writing is personal. It is individual - singular to each person - like their way of speaking, their voice, their mannerisms - yet often these mannerisms, this voice, is hidden.
   We hide it through imitation of other writing. This imitation, of course, is all well and good if you are using it to expand as a writer. But so often imitation is used as a mask, a veil, to hide behind. That way, when others read your writing, it is not you who is up for scrutiny. It is someone else. And so you stay safe.
   But writing is not safe. You cannot approach writing as if it were something safe. It will not be long before you realize how grievously wrong you are.
   Your writing is a part of who you are, even if you are not the greatest writer. It is still your voice, your thoughts. And the thought of expressing them, on paper ... where they can't be taken back ... is scary.
   This is what makes writing so different from speaking. Speaking is a sound, moving so fast on its vibrations in the air that is literally is here one fraction of a second and gone the next. Speech - generally speaking - does not last (unless it is written down) and is only heard by the few who hear it - not by generations to come.
   But writing lasts forever. Just look at the writing of the ancients for proof of that. Over 2000 years later and we are still privy to their thoughts - long after their speech has faded away.

   Would Homer have picked the Iliad to be his one epic to survive 2000 years?

   Writing is solid, immovable, even more so today than it was 2000 years ago. (I highly doubt that this blog post is going anywhere anytime soon.) Once you writing something, it is hard to take it back - even the best erasers don't fully smudge out the marks left on the paper.
   Besides that, when you write, your audience is not limited to just the people around you. Anyone can read it ... even people who you might wish would not have had that glimpse into your soul.

   Sound scary yet?

   But we cannot let that stop us! We must grab this bull by the horns, wrestle, and wrestle hard, even if our bright red capes get trampled in the process. Why? Because only we have our voice. And it's a thing too precious to be lost because of fear.

   The same principle that applied 1978 years ago applies today:
"Be not afraid."
                                        ~ John 14:27


On Writers and Motivation

     New journeys. Swashbuckling Adventures. Old myths. Relationships. They all have to start somewhere, and yet so often we are not the brave-hearted heroes who step out of the pages of our novels. How do these heroes manage to get past that gut wrenching hesitation which comes with starting new things? That bone-chilling fear which comes with adventure?
     Pressure. Lots of it. And a couple blood-thirsty monsters besides.
     But what about us, on the outside? So often we - especially writers - loose our motivation! What about we ordinary, everyday people, stuck on the outside of the leather binding, not blessed with the pressure of life or death situations to propel us forward into new things?
     We must rely on ourselves.
     All our motivation must come from within; all of our drive, purpose, and pressure must be derived from our own internal, self-inflicted bloodthirsty monsters. But, as I've found in my experience as a writer, those monsters are not always all bad. Sometimes, they're not really blood-thirsty at all ... once you get to know them.
     What follows are 6 simple guidelines for self motivation - whether in your writing, exercise, education, or day-to-day life - to help you to get acquainted with the blood-thirsty monster within.

1) Identify what you want.
  • So often, when we start new things, we end up not finishing them because we get to the middle and realize that we never really wanted it in the first place. This merely adds to the fear of starting new things: we are afraid that we will change our minds half-way in . Save yourself a lot of time and ask yourself "Is this what I really want?"
2) Figure out why you want it.
  • Another reason why we so often loose our drive is because we don't know why we want what we want. Sometimes, when we reach this step, we cannot come up with any good, strong reason why we want something, and we realize that we didn't really want it at all.
3) Make a game-plan.
  • Know what it is that  you need to do in oder to get what you want. So often our dream - our 'new adventure', gets lost in a sea of wishes. Make your dream more concrete and attainable by creating a list of what must be done in order to make it happen.
4) List the consequences of laziness.
  • Often, after looking at the list in #3, we become so daunted by the amount of work involved that we want to throw in the towel. This is where our self-motivation must really  kick in. Treat yourself to a little healthy fear by making another list - this time of all the things that will happen if you are lazy about following List 1.
5) Visualize your reward.
  • After the fear and pressure begins to set in, it can seem as though this "new adventure" thing is a long, dark tunnel with no light at the other end. Encourage yourself by lighting a happy fire beneathe your feet, and invision all the good things that will come through your hard work. Remind yourself of Step #2.
  • Perhaps the most daunting step of any new adventure. And, of course, the most crucial. YOU MUST START. No excuses. Often, you'll find, when you push yourself an inch, you'll go a mile.

     The monster doesn't seem quite as scary anymore, does he? Once we have identified our purpose, the pressure becomes our best friend. Now, obviously our purpose in life is more than what we create for ourselves. But the drive, the motivation, behind our actions - whether we are writers, artists, mothers, college students, actors, or postmen - must come from within us.