Sunday, May 20, 2007

You Have to Live First, if You Want to Write

When you are feeling blocked, empty, or frustrated with your writing ... in other words things just aren't flowing, you need to do what writer Anne Lamott refers to as "filling up". In Lamott's very helpful, enlightening and just plain funny book on writing called Bird by Bird, she discusses in one of her chapters the need for writers to fill up their cup with life experiences.

By this I don't mean that you should necessarily take up sky diving, because you think your life is boring. Whatever you do, don't walk down Main Street in your town naked, just because you need something juicy or daring to write about. Just live as if this present moment is a gift. Live as if the corny hand towels with that quote, "live every day as if it were your last," were true. You will find that your mind will be much more attentive to every detail in your life - every buttercup that you see on your lawn.

Yesterday I saw a very rare and captivating bird, the Baltimore Oriole. I was intoxicated by the orange, red and yellow colors that lit up this bird's feathered wings like a majestic flag. It was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen - apart from my own children - and it was only two feet away from me outside my friend's kitchen window. When it flew off, I initially felt bereft. "Take me with you," I thought. "Don't go. Let me paint a picture of you in my mind." So that is what I am doing here in this blog entry. I am capturing the splendor and beauty of that moment when I let everything else in my life stand still, including the blank page of my journal, so that I could live a shared moment with this Baltimore Oriole.

You have to live before you can write. When you do write for great lengths of time, give yourself permission and time to live in the present. Take a breather. Your writing will flow again like never before.

MAy 20, 2007

No comments: