“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, March 22, 2019

Boy, Do I Have an Answer for You. Your First 15 Minutes Are Not Wasted

A comment from a fellow blog reader/writer: 

“I was interested in how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?”
Okay, here goes. This is one of my favorite writing techniques. For those who have heard me speak of it, sorry to repeat myself, for those who haven’t, come, get on board.
This technique was coined by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist Way. It is writing your “Morning Pages.”
Writing Morning Pages is a mind dump.
Morning Pages are an exercise is to write out what’s on your mind, that junk that likes to cycle and recycle.
Morning Pages are those first pages writers used to crumple up and vigorously heave into the wastepaper basket. Now, with the keyboard, we are missing that satisfying crumbling and throwing, and I suppose ripping the paper out of the typewriter has a satisfying ring to it. Using the keyboard is the same sort of writing though, without the throwing or ripping. 

Writing your thoughts instead of allowing them to circle allows you to put a period at the end of a sentence. Our fingers get tired of writing the same old thing over and over. That’s punishment, like sending a kid to the blackboard to write out the error of their ways. 
So, write for those 15 minutes, all the junk you don’t want anyone to see. Keep them or delete them.
You’ll find that after writing those few minutes, that you have exhausted your mind’s ramble, and something of importance begins to worm its way in.
I look at those pages as a sort of meditation/cleansing. And it tells your muse you mean business.
After I heard that the simple act of writing longhand (cursive) brings forth creativity, I now think we ought to write our morning pages longhand, Probably compose that way as well. But, we probably won’t. It’s easier to type, as I am now doing.
Apparently, there is a mind/brain connection with the act of writing with a pencil or pen. The movement of the arm connects the brain somehow, it is a feedback system.
I believe so strongly in Morning Pages, that I think non-writers ought to use them.
I’m thinking specifically of those individuals who will tell a story, then retell it, then tell it again. 
They have a mind loop.
I know they have a need to tell particular stories, for they have some latent emotional impact, often trauma. It’s a sort of Post Traumatic Syndrome. One psychologist commented, “Tell your stories as often as you want, but I think 10 times is enough.”
Put a period at the end of the sentence. 


Saturday, March 2, 2019


 "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. If you read it you must stop where the slave Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." --Green Hills of Africa, pg 22

"My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing."

"Scott took LITERATURE too seriously. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start."

"Remember to put weather in your god dammed book--weather is very important."

I felt sorry for Hemingway when he said he hoped none of his letters were published, and there they were in Ernest Hemingway on Writing, edited by Larry W. Phillips.  He didn't want anyone but the addressed person to read them. However they give such a glimpse into the person he was, that we, the readers, are lucky.