How We Write

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The secret room in my mind.

I’ve painted since the early ‘60’s, but I’ve always been interested in psychology and the other arts. I studied in LA with Hal Stone to learn voice dialogue, Paul Newham in London to learn his Voice Movement system, at the Strasberg method acting school in New York, Roberto Ciabani in Florence, Italy to learn kinetic expressionism. I have tried a good number of psychotherapeutic interventions too.

I want to know what blocks artistic creativity and I’m interested in strategies that release it. Early on, I wanted to find the source of creativity in myself, and I did manage to dismantle a lot of the impediments to expression that I had absorbed growing up.

I’m a kinetic person, so my approach to artistic creation may not work for others, but I’m not sure. I do think there are typical ways people block themselves.

I’m a painter, so I write by the seat of my pants. Never having studied writing, I approach it with a certain “innocence.” Not being aware of the many pitfalls involved, I may benefit from beginner’s luck but here’s a description of my process. I’d like to hear how others do this work.

I decide to write at a certain time of day, after I’ve watered the garden of our house-sit and had coffee. At that time every day, I sit down and look through my handwritten notebook and grab an idea. If I find an interesting suggestion there, I write an article title on a google docs blank page. That title usually suggests a first sentence. At this point I have no idea what I’m going to say, but almost always a second sentence is suggested by the first.

I continue that way, feeling my way forward in a kind of semi darkness, not really knowing what the object of all these words is until I reach the three quarter’s point where I start to see how it starts to make sense and is something I want to say.

If the words stop coming, which happens occasionally, I pace. Walking seems to loosen the strictures in my mind and ideas start to flow. I keep a notebook close by and stop to make notes. That usually gets things going again. It always does, in fact.

It’s kind of mysterious. I don’t feel like I have to know what I’m going to say before I say it, that something worthwhile will come through just writing “in a certain direction.” It happens that I occasionally go off on an unexpected tangent in this process and have to come back and change the title, but not often.

Once the sense and feeling of what shows up and wants to be said takes me, I start to feel emotional. I start to be taken in hand by some energy that drives the boat forward from then on. I just try to say it clearly, without cliches and with fidelity to the voice in my head.

As far as trepidation around posting what I’ve written, I do wonder if what I’ve said and how I’ve said it will mean anything to others, but the only way to know that is put it out to the readers and wait. If I were fifty years younger, I might worry more about whether I had the right to take up space on a writing forum, but now I don’t.

I do have doubts before and sometimes during the process, but writing or physical movement seems to put those doubts aside. I’m not tortured by the blank page, but I often question if I really have the ability to say anything worth saying. It’s just that I refuse to act on those doubts. I just go ahead in spite of them.

That’s my process.

Is this the way most people write? I have no idea.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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