Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meditation Monday: Never Mind the Yetis

Don't be surprised if writing improves your personality.

If you are smashing kingdoms and building them up again each morning at your writing place, the little things that used to snag you may now elicit a smile or a shrug. If you're thinking all day about how to unknot a tricky plot problem, you have less time available to brood on slights or worry about hard-to-please people.

- Susan Shaughnessy, Walking on Alligators

When you're in your groove as a creative, whether you're a writer or a painter or something else, it tends to put you in a good mood. Artists can be regarded as sullen, private, hermit-like creatures, but it's not always so. When things are going badly, when you've written yourself into a corner or are having a problem with your work, it's natural to be in a low mood. Difficult though it is, the trick is to push through and find the light on the other side of the blockage. And some days you'll have the energy, the strength, the wherewithal to do that. When you emerge on the other side, you'll find it's a sunny day: the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and life just seems shinier. If you don't make it, you're stuck in the muck on the wrong side and you feel moody, defeated, or perhaps angry.

Keep pushing. As Chris Baty said in a WriMo Radio podcast a few years ago, "Never mind the yetis." I can't remember the context of that phrase any longer, but it was connected with fear. Fear to forge ahead when you don't know what to write. Fear that what you write will be awful. Fear that you'll get stuck and never get this story out of the mire. He likened it to being on a mountain, trying to reach the top, knowing that hungry yetis are stalking you, coming up behind you, breathing down your neck. The yetis can only stop you writing if you let them. So never mind the yetis. Keep pushing. Soon enough you'll break through and life will be joyous again.

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