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Hi! You can follow my weekly thoughts here and find information about my books on my website, www.patriciacolewilliams.com. I write one blog called  here that I call A Matter of Faith, about faith and spirituality. It is written for Christ followers and those who are seekers. Sometimes I write about writing, because writing and journaling are spiritual disciplines that have been used for millennia. You can find more of those articles under the section called Writers Block.  I welcome your interest in following my blogs and all my upcoming books.  Have a blessed day!
Patricia Cole Williams

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It’s fascinating to share ideas and hear stories of other writers.  Whether people bemoan being stuck in a rut, procrastinating on a daily basis, or admitting that fear may halt their progress, writers may tend to share on a very personal level with each other.

I believe part of that need to share is inherent in our work styles. Most of us work alone, or very nearly so, because this is a solitary occupation. We tend to spend time alone in our heads. When we share with other writers we may find people who know instinctively the actions and feelings behind our words, in between our lines. As I write this I can look out the window and see hummingbirds feeding at the  trough I’ve place on the porch. It feels quiet, peaceful and solitary here at my desk. No other people to distract me from myself or my own musings.

While we may spend hours online researching and reaching out to the world electronically, we still lack that human contact that comes from having another body in the room. (Sorry folks, our cats and dogs aren’t here in the head count!) Maybe all this time in our minds and hearts is what encourages us to reach out.

Reaching out is what we do, you know. What we say in words has meaning for us and our readers. The topic is not as important as our efforts to maintain communication with other people. Our particular form of communicating is limited to one side of the dialog at a time. We writers seldom get immediate response or feedback to our work. We may wait hours or years to hear something. Writing is different from social media in significant ways. If you have spent any time on a social media site the more obvious differences are glaring.

What we write remains hidden until publication. It has no immediacy (unless we’re using a social media form); we have time to consider our words and their impact. Words have value and meaning to us. We work hard to be as truthful as we can. Popping off some flippant remark is not how we work or live. We who write for ourselves or for a living want to understand our hearts and minds. We have a deep-seated desire to be present to people in the moment we write, and we are willing to risk ourselves, to become transparent, so we can have a relationship with others. This action of making ourselves known in the writing becomes our voice.

Letting our voices be heard is a fundamental part of writing. Losing our voices in other areas of life may be what drives our compulsion to write. Women, in particular, have been denied their voices in almost all cultures. Women writers may hear themselves for the first time when they write. Children’s voices are frequently discounted unless they are blessed with excellent teachers who encourage them to write as part of their weekly writing exercises in school. And by writing I am not referring to rote sentence copying! (smile)

Find your voice and find your self. I’ll write a separate blog on finding your voice and it’s relationship to the structure of your writing later. If you aren’t involved with at least a couple of other writers or you don’t have any type of writing community, find one that is either physically near you or join an online community. Maybe you have a friend who likes to write you can talk to. Dialoging about what is happening in our work is very supportive.  For heaven’s sake, DO NOT ask someone to be your writing “buddy” if they tend to criticize everything you do or they don’t write. Might as well cast pearls before swine. If people aren’t doing the same work, they won’t understand. Don’t waste your time trying to explain. Instead, use the time to find someone who will understand and be supportive. Happy writing!

Blessings,

Patricia

“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler (1890-1960)

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. Parr

These two quotes are taped to the top of my desktop computer. They are a daily reminder of the joy and struggle inherent in life and in the writing life particularly.  The struggle brings joy, fulfillment, peace and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Susan’s comment about the demon of deadlines,  that mental nag that won’t leave us alone, and the cruel joke of the fleeting muse is all too familiar. Susan has weekly deadlines for one genre of her writing…sermons. That constant push to say something relevant keeps her on her toes. Those of us who write for a living have that push daily, weekly, monthly, whatever your schedule may be. For other writers who aren’t necessarily trying to publish immediately procrastination may be a bigger problem. We all struggle with relevancy, timeliness, revelation and originality. All of these could be used for teaching topics down the road. Keep writing. The end is worth the journey and the journey is worth the ending.

Blessings,

Patricia

Writer’s Block is the place for writers to come for help, encouragement, inspiration, friendly advice and the discoveries we make in writing. It is part of a series of classes I’m teaching on writing. The material here will be original or the words of other writers. Attribution will be accurate because I don’t believe in stealing another writer’s work.  Enjoy the journey, because that is what matters.

So You Wanna Write? Write what?

This week I reread Gail Sher’s “One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writing.” Sher writes with the sparse voice one would expect from a practitioner of Zen Buddhism. Her lines are lovely…more skeletal, with a just a little fullness. Yet she manages to convey the very essence of what this practice of writing is about for us. The book begins with the Four Noble Truths:

1. Writers write.

2. Writing is a process.

3. You don’t know what your writing will be until the end of the process.

4. If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is to not write.

As simple as these truths seem, they may be difficult in the execution! Sher contends that there is no such thing as writer’s block…only distractions. We can begin by taking away the distractions and getting on with the writing itself.

If you want to write, what is it that you want to write? That’s the place to begin. You must decide what is important, what calls to you, what you are passionate about and move in that direction. People talk to me about wanting to write in a particular genre, but without convincing me that they care deeply enough about their subject to sustain the rigors of writing. While I understand writing is difficult, I believe there should be some fun involved or why do it? And if you don’t care about your subject, I doubt people will care much about your writing.

I think people get confused about having to write some GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL (smile) or some academic tome or whatever someone tells them is important writing. Ain’t necessarily so, boys and girls. In Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way,” she demands her readers write morning pages as a daily discipline. Every morning you roll out of bed, schlep to the table, write your three pages. No excuses, no days off, nothing. And it doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. This is the practice of writing. Your morning pages might be all the writing you do in your life and that’s good enough!

But if you really want to write something for publication, for heaven’s sake, DO NOT try to write something just because the market is hot. By the time you finish writing your masterpiece, it may be past it’s expiration date! Write about what moves you, show us in your writing that you care about something, and make us believe that it is important. These are the bones for good writing. And write. Every day. Rain or shine or whatever.

While you’re writing, remember that consistency is the greatest factor in success. If you play the piano, you must practice daily in order to play well. If you dance, play a sport, play chess, the same rule applies: practice, practice, practice. This adage holds true for writing. The women and men whose books fill up the top spots of the New York Times Best Selling List don’t write when they feel up to the challenge. They write all the time or their work suffers. This practice of writing daily will get you through good days and bad. There are times when your distractions get the best of you; but you must persevere.

Good writers will emphasize that you need a time of day and place to write that are unchanged. I agree. If you write best in the morning, get up early; the time of day may not matter as much as showing up and doing the work. It is true that most people who are writing function better in the morning before the demands of the day take a toll on the psyche. For people who still have day jobs, getting up in what feels like the middle of the night might not be a good idea! And some of you are just naturally night owls…so  happy pecking away on the keyboard at midnight. Whatever you do, just do it every day. But I digress…

So you wanna write? Sit down with pen and paper in hand. (Yes, that old fashioned notion of writing by hand.) Start doing some free writing…write down whatever comes to you. (I’ll cover the subject of Free Writing in a subsequent blog.) Try dialoging with yourself about what interests you. Ask yourself questions. Keep writing until you have some ideas that excite you and entice you to do some research and sit at the computer.  Remember Shakespeare’s words, “To thine own self be true.” Be true to your soul no matter what you choose for your topic.

Writing is a process and we don’t know the end when we begin. Some fiction writers make outlines of their novels so they know the beginning, middle and end. Others find those constraints stifle their creativity. Just humor me, and yourself, and start your writing practice by just writing. You don’t need an end the first few days. You need to be quiet and at peace with yourself when you begin your writing practice. We can cover the other basics later. Just trust your instincts and begin the practice. As Sher says, the only way to fail is to not write.

From time to time I’ll be including some tidbits on writing from books on writing developed for teachers. My sister Katherine Bomer, and her husband Randy, are actively involved in consulting with teachers. They teach teachers how to teach writing. You can find their books at http://www.Heinemann.com. Katherine and Randy have devoted  years of their lives to helping teachers. (Randy also has a blog site so you can check him out there.) My job here is more focused on writers, rather than teachers. I welcome writing teachers to my site and hope they can glean new ideas here as well.

So happy thinking and writing. Have a blessed day!

Patricia

Welcome to my blog. I’ll be writing about writing, faith, culture and life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!