With our So:write sessions on a break for the summer, making time to put pen-to-paper can be difficult with the busy lives that we all lead, especially if we feel uninspired.
However, when you have a chance to sit down, it can be so worthwhile to give yourself a moment to drift away with your notebook, tablet, rusted typewriter, or whatever it might be that you use to write.
And in trying to listen to my own advice, dear reader, I have set aside some time to create this blog post for you.
I hope to add some colour to the blank page that you might be staring at…
Because I strongly believe that writing is good for the soul. It has the power to express what lives inside all of us.
It brings out the words that are locked away, waiting to be split open like yolky sunlight.
And oh, how they shine when they are finally out there!
1. Stop procrastinating
“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”
Trust me, you are not alone in that feeling of not knowing what you want to write.
How do we express those ideas floating around in our minds?
Where do we even start?
It is a feeling that all writers go through and will continue to experience in their writing lives.
But we all have to start from somewhere.
Waiting for that moment of inspiration to strike can sometimes feel like an unscheduled train: we don’t know when it will turn up, or how long it will take to appear.
So, write! In any possible way that works for you. Write without an aim, or purpose. Write in tangents, bullet points, off the line. Any attempt is better than none at all.
Begin, and see where it might lead. You don’t need to start at the beginning. There are no rules. Follow what is there and see where it takes you. Sometimes, we have to find the puzzle pieces of the story ourselves, instead of expecting them just to be there. Only then can we start to put them all together. And yes, certain pieces will take longer to find than others. That’s okay.
It’s a process.
2. Accept imperfections
‘If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint’ then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced.’
Vincent Van Gough
Set aside your inner critic. You CAN write. It does not need to be perfect.
What is perfect writing, anyway? No matter how many redraftings our pieces go through, there will always be something on the page that nags at us. If we go into writing with the expectation that it has to be perfect, then we are already hitting walls. Instead, relish the imperfections in your words. They have taken you somewhere that you wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
Drafts, after all, are the necessary foundations that we all need for a piece to flourish. Remember this and don’t scrunch up your early ideas.
‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’
Composers do not improve their skills by simply writing and playing music alone. They learn about rhythm and tone and melody through the music that they listen to.
It is the same with writing. Reading books makes our writing richer.
Books spur the most powerful of emotions.
Simple phrases can catch in our throats and render us speechless.
When you are struggling to write, find short spaces in your day to read.
Find novels or short stories that are out of your comfort zone. Consider how they make you feel and the journey that they take you on.
Sometimes, the experience of reading a book is enough to get us into the headspace that we need in order to write. If all else fails, at least you have given yourself some much needed ‘me time’ to fall away into a wonderful, fictional world (or non-fiction, if that is more your cup of tea).
4. And finally…
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Writing should be enjoyable.
With all that said, I hope you all are having a wonderful summer, and we at So:write are excited to welcome you all back in near future.
In other news:
The upcoming So:Write Book Launch is a date to save in your diaries.
On Sunday 4th November at the John Hansard Gallery So:write anthologies from our groups and Writers In Residence will be available to purchase at the free event.
More information can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sowrite-book-launch-tickets-47887025382?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
Interested in a comfortable writing space to express yourself? Our So:Write Women group will resume in September. We are meeting on Thursday 6th at the Art House and Saturday 15th at Southampton Central Library.
Hope to see you there.