Busting Down the Barriers of Writing
Writing is obviously, rather simply put, putting words onto a page. Well, these days it tends to happen that we are putting words onto a screen, but you get my gist. The art is in just keeping on doing it.
Ultimately, it doesn't always matter what you write. It matters that you simply write. It's not even always about having an idea, necessarily. Although starting with one certainly helps.
There is an old adage about a great guitar player. The instrument is not as important as the talent that makes it sound good. Hand a great guitar player something put together with just rubber bands, and he can probably make it rock.
But more than that, it's about the constant practice. Just doing the thing he is good at that makes him continually better at it. A great guitar player doesn't need a whole song to get to something. He just needs to keep playing something. Anything.
And by the way, some of the greatest songs ever written were written by accident. Just by playing around with no particular place in mind to go.
Writing can be like that too. And in fact, writing is like that. It is about constant practice, and when you can do it well, even when you are just playing around, you can make what you are writing sound good.
It also helps to keep the mind fresh and working. And when you can do that, it leads to less of that awful writer's block we sometimes have to deal with.
One thing I do often is a simple creative writing exercise. Just to write something and try to make a thing no one would care to read about suddenly something they do want to read about.
Well, it doesn't always work. Some things are just boring no matter how you talk about them. But the underlying idea is the same.
You are writing something. And the keeping on doing it is the only thing that matters. And even when the nothing you are writing about isn't interesting at all, at least the pen kept moving and the words went onto the page.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. Cutting up some meat. There is absolutely nothing interesting about that at all. So, in engaging in a creative writing exercise, the only aim is to talk about the boring thing in some way that is...
Again, the aim is not to make it good. The aim is not even to necessarily have it all make a lot of sense. You are simply playing around with words and letting the mind think and work it all out.
In my exercise I started out with one simple opening phrase.
I will admit, it may be a darn tootin' stupid thing to write about.
Because writing about cutting up meat is a stupid thing to write about, of course, so that seems like a good place to get the ball rolling on what comes next.
But hey, give me some cred here. It's not a post about money or politics!
Anybody can come into a post like this. Republicans, democrats, poor people and rich people and those in between. Hell, even the veggietaryans can come in here and say a thing or two.
Again, I am not trying to make sense. I'm just trying to put anything down that I can and mash some words together. I am forcing myself to think a little bit about how I can talk about something that is entirely meaningless.
I am not even necessarily writing real words—we all know "vegetarian" is not spelled the way I spelled it in this little exercise. But again, it doesn't matter. I am just putting down whatever comes to mind.
About cutting up meat. Pork to be exact. It's a virtual staple in the Porwest household as some have become all too aware. There ain't a safe pig anywhere near where my plate is, I'm just saying.
You will notice something else as well here. I am not, in this exercise, trying to sound like I normally sound. I am trying to fit the manner of the way I am writing to the ridiculousness of what I am writing about.
Every exercise is different and done in a different manner. But part of any exercise is also challenging oneself to think and write outside the box a bit. It may sound silly, but it is a way to simply relax and breathe and just let the words flow.
Because you don't care what you are writing. You just want words to land on the page.
I mean, even the safest, smartest little piggy in that fabled tale who lives in the brick house constantly considers his days are probably numbered.
Well, the long and short is that I had some pork steaks left, three of them to be exact, from another dish I made the other night that I decided to use fresh pieces for rather than thaw out some I already had in the freezer...
And I was like, "Hey, I don't have any cut up for stir fry meat, soups, or stews!
I am still not making a whole lot of sense. But okay, I'm talking about cutting up some pork, and I know I can talk about my love of pork and still add something along the way that seems to flow well enough—even if the words I am writing are still not particularly any more interesting.
Even if I am really just rambling on a bit. That's okay too. I am seeing words. I am thinking. My creative side is trying to help me to fill in the needed blanks. The wheels are turning even though the engine isn't running—so what if I am in neutral?
I'm still getting somewhere. Kind of. Mostly. My page is not blank.
So, that's what I did. I took those three pieces of pork steak and cut them up, weighed them in my weigh bowl, a name for it I picked because I don't know what the hell else to call it, but it is just a bowl with a built-in scale on it, and wrapped one pound each into freezer paper.
For stir-fry, or soup, or stew, or whatever my heart desires.
Because that's how I roll. Chop-chop! And Imma 'ventually gonna eat it. Which makes me think I'd have been a terrible source for Looney Tunes to be Yosemite Sam cause Imma gonna get 'dat wabbit has a much better ring and cadence to it than Imma gonna get 'dat Porky, which probably would have triggered some labor dispute or discrimination suit or something from Porky Pig.
Okay, I admit, when I do these exercises, I do have a little bit of fun with them. But they are fun because when you start playing around you start loosening bolts and nuts and suddenly things just start to happen.
That's the point. It is what breaks the spell and gets the words out. It is what takes the work part of writing out of the equation and relaxes you to be able to just write and let the mind do most of the work.
Have you ever heard a writer say, "The story writes itself?" This is part of what they mean when they say that. The best work happens. You shouldn't have to think that hard about it, just like a guitar player can play all his notes without even looking at his guitar.
He knows where to go and the notes just happen out of something deeper. Something inherent.
When things are relaxed and natural and just happening, nothing else around it matters. It just flows. You are really just riding on the back wind of the moment and letting yourself be gently pushed.
Does any of this post make sense? Nah. Should it? Nah. Is it just for fun and for the hell of it? Hell, yeah.
Meanwhile I could give you some advice on how to invest in pork belly futures just to keep on some sort of typical topic, but that would just ruin the whole flow of wherever this thing went anyway.
So, I'll just leave it all at that and say see you on the next one? Works for me.
Did I accomplish anything? Yes and no. I didn't write anything necessarily informative, helpful, nor particularly entertaining. But I did still accomplish finding a way to talk about simply cutting up some meat.
If there was a seal, I'd broken it. If there was a block, I unblocked it. And certainly, if there was a blank page, I filled it with words.
Beyond that, when you do exercises like this, the seals and blocks and blank pages happen less frequently. Because you are always keeping on doing it. Writing. Making words. Talking about anything and everything and nothing and filling pages.
Writing is something that happens, through a natural process, and when you focus on the writing more than the words themselves, the entire process happens more easily—and you get to keep on doing it, especially when it matters, and especially when you really want something to have been written.