REDISCOVER MAGIC: WRITING FROM THE HEART
Writing is about relationships, our own relationship with ourselves, and our relationship with our readers. While writing is a solitary activity—at our computers we remain alone, creating new worlds, new stories—once we share that work with readers, we form a relationship with them. Hopefully, they fall in love with our characters and want more. We want to touch people, and that’s a huge responsibility. We want to leave a tender mark on their souls, or at least a soft grin on their faces. For me, that’s the magic I call writing from the heart.
As writers we all have those days where we feel blocked, or distanced from our stories, or not able to get a flow going. Each word becomes painstakingly awkward and wrong.
Here’s a few tips I’ve found that have helped me to WRITE FROM THE HEART:
- Free Write: I do this for myself and with my students. Before writing anything, take five minutes to clear the cobwebs from your head. Put an old fashioned ink pen or no.2 pencil in your hand and write. Write about how much you suck as a writer, or (even better) look around and take notice. Is there a gentle breeze? How does it tickle the leaves? DO NOT lift your pen from the paper in those five minutes, just write. This is a precious tool for me and unlocks writer’s block like nothing else.
- Write Every Day: Do not, I repeat, do not take a day off. If you do, make sure you at least do the free write. While we need to give our physical muscles a rest for a day after weight training, the longer you let your writing muscles rest, the quicker it atrophies. As writers, we need to stay in touch with our writing selves, and the more we write, the better we get. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument, the more you practice, the more you learn.
- Listen to your favorite music: James Taylor and Don Henley do all kinds of things for me. They move me. They transport me. When I listen to them, I get in touch with my heart, which can easily get lost when I’m doing laundry or my head is stuck in a stupid meeting from earlier in the day. After taking fifteen minutes or so with my favorite artist, I can write from the heart.
- Step Outside: This is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I live in Michigan, which can be a total drag in the winter, but in the summertime, I spend a few minutes outside in the morning, with my coffee and my notebook. Often times, I’ll just sit and relax, look around and take it all in. Breathe. Breathe again.
- Sleep, then listen to the dreams: If I’m stuck on a story or unhappy with a scene I’ve written, I give it time to stew. The subconscious is a wonderful thing. When we sleep our minds have free rein. They wander all over the place. I’ve resolved many a scene or character dilemma by giving myself time to process the problem through my dreams. It may sound weird, but it works.
- Exercise: Like the other suggestions, exercise distracts us from the slog of daily life, wears out our bodies so our minds get to wander and loosen up. For me, a day without exercise is like a day without sunshine.
To sum it all up, let the magic in and your heart will shine in your writing. We all deny the magic in our lives, either because we’re too caught up in daily life that we forget, or because we just don’t take the time.
What is your favorite way to find the magic in your life? What allows you to write from the heart?
As a young girl, Claudia was inspired by Nancy Drew mysteries. Her passion for mystery spurred the penning of a book of her own, The Wrong Guy, a mystery loosely based on the Michigan Murders of the late ‘60s, which was published in March 2011 by Echelon Press. www.http://tinyurl.com/3t46bgg . Claudia can be reached through her website, www.claudiawhitsitt.com.
You can follow her on Twitter @ cwhitsitt.