The Cure for Writing Constipation

I am in the second day of a two-day writing vacation. I take these once in a while to get away, see some countryside, and prime the pumps. On this WriteAway (cute), I’m at a state park that is almost empty.

So, after checking in and unpacking, I finally sat down to write. And … nothing.

I cast around in my mind for some of those great ideas I’d been storing up. Apparently, either they weren’t that great, or my mind was playing hide-and-seek again. I tried scanning some stuff I’d written long ago and meant to get back to. Nada. Zilch.

As a writer, I was constipated: lots of good stuff inside, but nothing (of any quality) coming out. (And yeah, it’s a lousy metaphor — but hey, it got you to read, didn’t it? <g>)

Long ago, when I went from stage zero of writing (I’d like to write someday) to stage one (I’m going to read some writing books), I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. One of her key principles is that to write at all, first of all you have to write. Something. Anything. Multiple pages of musings, brain turds, ramblings, or even La-La-La. She puts the principle into a practice she calls Morning Pages: three hand-written pages first thing each day, not for publication but just to get the engine running, get the juices flowing, get the plumbing unstopped.

I have to admit, between a job, a family, a house, a church orchestra, and volunteer activities, I have been slacking big-time on the writing. I haven’t done my Morning Pages in, well, many many mornings. I haven’t written each day, no matter what. And now that I had the time, the space, the page — there was nothing there.

So what did I do? I went back to the beginning, to Julia Cameron’s advice. I started writing, whatever came into my head. I didn’t worry about making sense, or where I was going to publish it, or what project it was part of. I didn’t worry about readability (writing by hand, you know), or about punctuation, or finding the perfect word. I just wrote, and wrote, and kept writing.

It worked. I began to feel something I hadn’t felt for some time: the push of the pent-up flow of words, waiting to get out. The urgency to come to the page. The need to get the words OUT, and DOWN, so the next ones could flow on out.

And, I felt one other thing I hadn’t felt for a long time: the realization that whatever else I am, I Am A Writer. It is what I do, and what I am.

And feeling that again felt damn good.

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