Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. ~John Steinbeck
This quote from Steinbeck comes pretty close to encapsulating how I feel about writing practice, and what I encourage folks to do in my writing workshops.
Still, sometimes I’ll notice a new participant in the groups stop abruptly and stare off into space. I know the look. Maybe they’re trying to think up that perfect word, or they’re seconding guessing a train of thought they just started; whatever it is, they’re thinking a little too much when they should be throwing it down.
Writing practice is all about keeping the pen moving, getting into the flow, and discovering more of your thoughts and unique ideas by just doing it. It’s not about perfection (that’s why we call it practice). But there they go, searching for the just-right word when they could be letting it all out by throwing things on paper.
If you find yourself thinking “There’s got to be a better word…” or “You’re really going to write about that ?” during the throw-down stage, you’re in dangerous territory because those infernal internal editors will elbow their way in – second guessing and stressing and messing with your PLAY, and they’ll suck the inspiration right out of you.
I should know. I’ve been writing by/for myself lately, but not much on ze blog. (duh) For those of you (you few, you crazy, you dedicated) who are subscribed, or who still check in from time to time, you know that I’ve been working behind the scenes with an eye on expanding this “side biz” that I love so well (this work that moves me and makes me feel so completely and totally well used …). But I’ve also been kinda rattling around in a place that says: If you don’t have the back-end infrastructure restructured and ready to “re-launch” with your well-thought-out “branding” and presentation and blahblahblah, then maybe you shouldn’t be writing and putting stuff out there publicly (cause, y’know … what might “they” think)?
And then it hit me: for one who prides herself on encouraging others to put themselves out there unapologetically, I sure wasn’t taking my own advice. So in a variation on the theme of “physician, heal thyself,” I thought …
“Writer Babe, write thy own way through this, damn it.”
See, I’m all about using writing to stay present to your life, support your process, help you become your own personal coach/therapist/best friend/cheerleader … and yes, develop your clear, strong voice and become a better writer (write your book, chronicle your life, write your own wedding vows, create a better website. all those things. and more.). But for some reason, now that I’m getting more clarity on how I want to share the work (expand the ripples and extend the range/impact of it), I go and get all chickenshit with performance anxiety.
So … I’ve decided I need a little public prescription a la Steinbeck in order to kick my own butt, and I’m going to that with a weekly “throw down.” And since I like alliteration, I’m going to do it on Thursdays. Throw-down Thursdays will be a weekly writing thing to invigorate/inspire/encourage my writing practice – and hopefully yours too.
Wanna throw some things down on paper with me? (or on your blog or somewhere else?)
Each Thursday, I’ll offer a quote, a prompt, a photo or a question … something to inspire thought and get the pen moving. And then we’ll all throw-down on paper. I recommend about 15 minutes, but more than that is fine, and less is cool too.
I hope you’ll play. Subscribe to the blog if you want an alert, or “like” my brand-new FB page to get a reminder. If you’d like to share your schtuff publicly, please do: you can post what you’ve written it in the comments below, or if you’d rather, post a link to your own blog in the comments.
Let’s throw-down together: let’s let the words flow and the feelings show as we let the perfect imperfection of our prose out in the light. Let’s lift weights, run the scales and practice, play and produce. Cause it’s not about the perfect word choice or turn of phrase or super-thought-out profundity (unless it is), it’s just about practice. Let’s throw-down, shall we?
Today’s throw down: