Writing: A State of Mind

Sometimes when I’m writing, the words flow neatly onto the screen, or paper, timed at an even pace. Other times, it’s like squeezing apples to get the juice flowing. I tend to write in spurts. I don’t write every day like some do. I cannot write on demand. I used to be able to do so, but I spent many years imbibing in alcoholic beverages and somehow my brain has suffered (I am now in recovery, 2.5 years).

I cannot seem to hold words or thoughts in my head for very long. If a thought comes to my mind and I don’t write it down, it is lost in the ether. I am sure many great ideas have slipped by me this way. I have taken to keeping a small notepad in my purse for those moments in which I need to scrawl away. I can then later transcribe my words into digital form. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. If I’m driving, I pull over. If I’m watching a movie, I press pause. If I’m working on something else, I stop and write it down. I must keep track, as well; otherwise, I have a gazillion thoughts scribbled down or written into MS word and no cohesion.

Not everything I write is kept, although when I’m seriously revising a manuscript, I’ll keep a second file open to copy and paste the cuts to. I do hate to throw anything I write out, with the exception of typos. But as most writers know, this is part of the creative process. Just like painting over a mistake, we must omit our mistakes, even beautiful ones. Part of revising, I learned as an English major, is cutting or considerably changing parts of your written works. It is painful, but necessary.

What can be even more painful is those few seconds when someone announces they are reading your work. As anyone who has gotten a less than favorable review can attest to, it is terrifying not knowing what that particular person will say about your hard work. It can be crushing to receive a bad review or a critical review. We often rely on others to bolster our opinion of our own writing, and when that fails, it can be devastating.

Rejection letters work in the same way. My first manuscript was rejected numerous times both by publishers and agents. It actually gave me writer’s block for a long time; it took me years to gather the courage to send anything out again. I am still hesitant. One must consider, however, that an editor or agent is a person with different tastes and ideas, so one must never allow a rejection to stop them from writing, like I did.

But good reviews are awesome! I soar when I receive a good review, or when someone says they loved my writing. When they strike up a conversation about my characters, I look like a Cheshire cat. I adore those people and will remember them always. I have made quite a few friends as a result of my writing.

Writing, to me, is cathartic. I love to write, to see how well the words flow onto the page. If I lost the ability to write, I would be very depressed indeed. Even while I was suffering writer’s block and didn’t write a wink of fiction, I was still writing poetry and blogging. My motto these days is “never stop writing.”

Thank you for reading!

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