Writing…about writing…about writing

March 18, 2008

Balancing distraction vs. direction

All the weblogging I’ve been doing of late has been very, very healthy for me–like getting the plumbing cleaned out.  Not the most fragrant of metaphors, but you probably get what I mean…:)

All of this semi-creative Roto-Rooting® has gotten rid of the scummery that was lining my mental pipes, and allowed me to begin to create again.  Ideas are starting to trickle through the system again…although I believe I’ve carried this metaphor as far as I can (even though I’m “flushed” with pride at actually constructing a tortuous metaphor once more–very much like how one feels when a period of physical constipation resolves itself in ummm…movement).  OK, OK, OK!  I’ll quit that now.

Anyway, for me weblogging is the equivalent of what Natalie Goldberg terms “…using writing as your practice, as a way to help you penetrate your life and become sane.”  If you haven’t read Writing Down the Bones, then put your laptop in hibernation or turn your PC off, and go down to the used bookstore and pick up a copy or leave your computer on and order it from Amazon.com.  I bought the Shambhala Pocket Classic version of the book some years back, and I drag it around with me.  Nothing gets me writing faster than listening to her advice… which, boiled down, amounts to “Sit down and write!”  She tells her students, “I write and still write terrible, self-pitying stuff for page after page after page.”  She gives me (and you, if you want it) permission to write–something we all need, either from ourselves or others. 

This particular diatribe is written for myself, but it’s also for Annie–who is a perfectionist–and Carl–who wants to write, but gets bored with it because he thinks he knows the ending.  The answer is to lock the editor outside the room and just write.  Even if it’s crap, even if you think you know what’s going to happen at the end of the story (the characters might surprise you), and even if you are worried that someone’s going to see it and think badly of you, which is my own particular bugaboo. 

To heck with those someones, since they are just another version of the editor, who is inherently evil WHILE you are writing, and should be summarily executed–you can resurrect him/her four, five or six weeks from now, but for now, kill ’em off.  Don’t worry, your internal editor is like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it always comes back.

Yet another writing teacher–I forget which one–advises writing “morning pages,” at least three pages of whatever falls out of your brains.  And that is exactly what I’m using the blogs for.  They don’t distract me from writing, they’re my writing exercise.  Sometimes with very pointed reasons for being, sometimes just rambles, all of these are writing, and writing for me is like breathing.  I can do without it for a very short while, but I need to write.  It’s how I find my sanity.



  1. I agree. To force your metaphor all the way to the sewer, my pen is my roto-rooter.

    On my blog, angrytoast.com, I write about things that piss me off. But as you may know, the therapeutic value of writing purges that anger from me. On one hand, I find a great deal of peace from the exercise of honestly writing about how I feel. On the other hand, if I want to continue my blog, I have to find things to be pissed about. Good thing it’s an election year.

    Ahhh. The give and take of life.

    Wry Toast

    Comment by Wry Toast — March 27, 2008 @ 2:19 am | Reply

  2. Hey, LisaM – I was so excited to find your blog..but then I noticed your last entry was dated March 2008, shortly after you apparently moved to wordpress. I hope you plan on continuing your Metawriting site. It looks interesting and I was looking forward to reading something more recent after I read this post, here. It sounded like you had a lot of momentum going when you wrote this post…so I hope everything is OK. Keep Writing!!

    Comment by writingreading — May 19, 2008 @ 12:47 am | Reply

  3. I was recently blogging about this very thing (okay, throughout several blog posts). I especially like Goldberg’s line: ” . . . a way to help you penetrate your life and become sane.” So true!


    Comment by K. Jayne Cockrill — August 2, 2008 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

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