How do I wrap up what I know about the care and feeding of the writer within? By reminding that each writer is unique, a special bundle of drama and memory and insecurity, and each writer must figure him or herself out to create long work or continual work. That understanding your inner writer is as important as writing because when you block or stall, often it has to do with the conditions under which the inner is laboring or the fear the inner is experiencing.
To steal a factoid from a wonderful talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about inspiration on TED: perhaps the muse is an outside thing, a gift given whether we deserve it or not, and therefore it isn’t our fault that the creative process is so capricious. And, as Ken Atchity says, the muse can visit while we’re in a project; in other words, that we don’t have to wait for inspiration to show up and set us afire. We can take the steps and have her surprise us along the way. Discipline helps the writer, orients him or her, but too much discipline, and at the wrong time, breaks the spirit.
There is a wonderful book, Writing the Natural Way, that uses clustering, a seemingly random gathering of right brain memory, to begin writing. I think clustering is a great fallback in the middle of a hard project or as a beginning to one. I think clustering can help unblock. You may find out more about you than the plot, but that is likely what you need to know anyway.
And finally, I end my little series on the care and feeding of your writer with lines from a poem, Family Reunion. The lines I’ve chosen describe the fragility of creativity within me, the care it needs, its innocence, and most of all, its knowing.
….most are cut off from their own/histories, each of which waits/like a child left at day care.
What if you turned back for a moment/and put your arms around yours?/Yes, you might be late for work;/no, your history doesn’t smell sweet/like a toddler’s head. But look
at those small round wrists/ that short-legged, comical walk./Caress your history–who else will?/Promise to come back later.
Pay attention when it asks you/simple questions: Where are we going?/Is it scary? What happened? Can/I have more now? Who is that?
How are you caring for your writer?