Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Time to Write Is Right Now

You wake up today, stretch and yawn, scratch the itchy spots, rub your eyes. Then you smile because you remember that you are a writer. Your heart wiggles with bursts of excitement.

Take a deep breath.

Look out the window. Watch the sun stretch it's arms across the horizon.

Sip your coffee. Or tea. Eat some oatmeal. Might want to some yogurt or turkey bacon or soy sausage too. Protein lasts longer, gives you the energy you need to write. Writing is hard work, but it's worth it. But you already know this.

As you brush your teeth, walk the dog, pour cereal for the kids, check your email, you allow the happy excited smiling feeling to spread over your skin like goosebumps. Tiny happy energetic smiling goosebumps as you wonder, "What will I write today?" You ponder all the possibilities.

Perhaps you'll write a list. An imaginary grocery list of items you will purchase if you lived in a small town in Croatia. Or a magical country where children govern and goods are sold by bartering trading cards and sticks of gum.

Oooh! Maybe you'll write a short story about the woman you met on your commute last night. The one who shared a recipe with you for shortbread cookies. She had a really pretty scarf. What did it have on it? Birds or dragonflies? It doesn't matter.

You get out a large piece of paper. The bigger the better. A great big piece of butcher paper, the kind you had in school where you'd lie down and your best friend outlined your body. You loved how it felt to have that purple pencil travel around elbows and fingertips. Maybe you have your kids help you make one today. They make one too. Then you all decorate your own, and you write a poem around the edge of your body.

Maybe you only have five minutes while you wait in line at the grocery store. Grab your day planner (you know, that calendar-notebook thing you never use) and write down all the strange headlines you see around you. Make a list of them to use tomorrow. Or the next day.

Or you collect words from books and journals and novels that line your desk, writing them on index cards using different color sharpies. Red for verbs. Blue for nouns. Or perhaps you decide you don't believe in parts of speech and you just write down phrases on the cards and then lay them on the floor in your living room (the one with the teal carpet), slide them around until you have a first line of a new piece of flash you've been wanting to start.

Today you could revise the essay you've been ignoring for months. You print out a hard copy, cut out all the sections and label them with a code or system of organizing, by theme or character or time.

Maybe you write a list of words that are connected by a shared sound. Union. Onion. Undone. Fundamental. Menopause. Causation. Accusation. Saying. Flayed. Braiding. Breakdown. Ounces. Owl. Howling. Cowlick. Nitpick. Crypt. Ripped. Shipment.

Remember the play you started last week? Now is a good time to walk to the cafe and eavesdrop on people's conversations, jot down lines of dialogue for scene three.

Perhaps you just find your writing journal, laptop, desktop, nearby paper scrap, the back of a Christmas letter from your college roommate who you haven't seen in 15 years, and you write for 10 minutes. Too long? Five minutes. One minute straight. Write whatever words float to the surface. Write about how you are scared you have nothing left to say. Or how pissed off you are about your college roommate's stupidly perfect Christmas letter.

Write a letter to George Washington. Or Tina Fey. Elizabeth Bennet. Yourself at 10 years old.

Open a book. Steal a line from someone else's story. Steal a title. A quote. Copy the first poem or paragraph by hand. Type it on a typewriter. Let someone else's words make a muscle memory your hands.

What you write doesn't have to be complete. You don't have to finish something today. Just start. Start to write. Let each word feed the next. Let it ignite the gasoline soaked rag you left laying inside yourself. Strike the match. Burn that page.

The sun's arms have reached your doorstep. You are almost giddy now, excited about what words you have yet to discover, string together each little bead-word into a sentence or metaphor.

As you pick up the pen or place your fingers on the keyboard you feel the goosebumps again, then you hear it. The sun is knocking on your door now. Or maybe it's the moon. It doesn't matter. It's time to write.

Go.
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