I have found this one simple way of making writing come easier: the act of raising the chin and looking up.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Let’s say you’re writing. Can we safely say that you’re sitting in a position where you’re hovering over a keyboard or notebook with shoulders rounded and head tipped down?
The point is: The physical act of writing is usually introverted, poised inward. One person sitting alone (even among a group or a café crowd) is inhabiting her personal experiences, dreams, feelings, hopes--all of which dictates the words, images and feelings that tumble into a story or a poem or a very important email or white paper business project.
And if you’re daydreaming out the window while creating your writing, you’ve probably separated yourself from your environment.
Makes sense, right? But wait—
Is this how writing has to be? ... An interior process that requires we block out the world around us? Or is there another way of writing that is more fun, more outward-reaching, social, surprising, playful, pursuasive—artful?
What I am proposing is that we spend more time looking up when we write. Starting with a simple chin lift.
Yes, just tip it up and look at what’s around you. See the objects in the room, on the window sill, on the table you’re writing on – the floor, the walls. What's an engaging phrase looking up from the paper or a word on a poster you could swipe? I’m not one to judge where or how you write—I’m writing this in bed so I don’t even have to tip my chin to look up.
And this just in: When you’re physically LOOKING UP, you’re using the cerebral cortex which automatically puts you in a more resourceful mode. Something I learned in coaching class today.
So, here are a few things to keep in mind when writing:
1. Look up to use the things around you in your writing. You'll be pleasantly surprised, promise!
2. Look up to be a thief. Steal your heart out. Take everything that's around you and stuff it in the pockets of your lines and scenes and marketing copy (c'mon just try it for a first draft). Consider this a more subversive way to do #1.
3. Look up to be a language scavenger. Eavesdrop, use words and phrases you overhear at the table next to you (I once wrote a break-up poem filled with language spoken by a table of cops having coffee).
4. Steal, steal, thievery and more thievery.
For example: Your poem about childhood may benefit by that salt shaker, an image of a dirty carpet, a too-short skirt or a weiner dog. Your Web copy may benefit from using images and things that show the picture of what you can do for your clients instead of getting lost in conceptual marketing-speak. Let a prospect SEE what it is you do and respond with: "Yes, that's just what I need!"
Remember the power of show-don't-tell. The universality of "things" helps a reader step into your writing work with a deeper association and therefore commitment. I might not have a visceral reaction to "grainy anxiety" but I sure will if you show me someone taking the pointy head of a porcelain seahorse and scratching it into into a glass table (no idea where that came from; I have no porcelain seahorses but I do have a glass table).
Imagine if you wanted to capture sadness or joy or lust and did it by describing the contents of someone’s refrigerator. Or: how about if you started out writing a story filled wtih objects in your fridge, and then stepped back to see what kind of emotional landscape you created? Cool, eh?
LET WRITING SURPRISE YOU. Let your poem or story or essay or business plan take you somewhere new. The first draft doesn't have to be perfect. Instead, aim for fun.
And business writers or anyone who says "I'm not a creative writer so leave me alone"—you may not need the salt shaker or dirty carpet morsels in your business plan but remember that the act of looking up and connecting with the world around puts even you in a more resourceful state. It makes you feel less alone in your endeavors (sometimes writing hurts, I know) and engaging with the world around you stimulates your brain.
So, heads up writers! And that means most of us who find some reason to write/blog/email/text/Twitter every single day. It still all counts as w.r.i.t.i.n.g.
Have fun and share discoveries.