Letting the Muse Take Over

By Donald Huffman

07/12/2017

I don’t have time for writing prompts and freestyle writing is a luxury of the past. Writing is work now. Writing isn’t about having fun any longer. Writing is about succeeding or more importantly, it’s about avoiding failure. This is all very serious business, and there’s no breathing room here.

What could stimulate creativity and freedom better than this atmosphere? The irony is lost on me when I’m stuck in the utter humorlessness of the writer taking themselves too seriously. I give the freestyle writing thing a go, mostly out of sheer desperation and a total lack of any ideas for my next blog post

I let my fingers wrap away at the keys with no clear objective other than to keep the keyboard clicking. My mind is telling me in short order, ‘we need to stay on board. We need to stay on track. There are boards to be lifted, scaffolding to be raised, and food to be distributed to the workers.”

I continue to let my fingers peck away on the keyboard. I become aware of two realities. The reality of senses is occupied by the click-click-click of the keyboard and the drone of the dehumidifier in the corner of my room. The reality in the mind is louder and more urgent. The mind is beginning to scream.

You haven’t even edited the first chapter of your book. You need to produce content for the blog, and it needs to conform to the vision that we agreed upon, and this thoughtless stuff you’re writing now is pointless. There’s no direction. It’s pointless.

I’m reminded of the wonderful teachers in my journey who have taught me it is more important to write something than to wait for perfection and write nothing at all.

I write with no clear objective on this day. My fingers dance away against the hollering dictates of the mind. My mind wants to know where we are headed.  I jump headlong into the process, letting my mind scream and my fingers dance. I’m reminded of other experiences where I’ve let go into the void – gazing into the reflection on the surface of pond water, watching the minnows dart around the seaweed’s stoic suspension. I’m reminded of concerts I’ve attended where music, performer, and audience are one.

‘We need to get this show back on the road,’ the mind agonizes. ‘The blog, the book. You need to fight resistance and write calculated with a purpose. With intention and direction. We need to get out of here!

The dehumidifier rumbles in uniformity next to me, pulling the damage potential out of the air. Click-click-click.

‘You won’t even publish this. This writing has no objective. This writing does not serve your objective. You need to stay true to the method. You need to stay true to the framework.’

Next to me is my planner notebook with its divine dictation. Most of the boxes on the to-do list fro the day remain profanely unchecked. The mind tells me I can’t relax yet.

‘…and what if you do publish this? This is garbage rotting in the sun. The journey is not the destination. The destination is the destination!’

What If I Did Something Different?

It’s a question that arises in me from a calmer and less obvious place. It’s from a place that often gets trampled beneath the word counts and self-imposed deadlines.

What if I did publish something only kind of good? Would it be the end of the world? I write about callings and Muses, yet so often I hypocritically push and lash myself forward like any success I have as a writer can only be the result of strict methodology and militaristic discipline.

What if I took my time?

‘How much time do you think you have?’ The cerebral drill sergeant bellows.

What if I redirected that conditioning and came up with more sustainable solutions?

I begin talking to myself differently. I begin responding to the drill sergeant.

Search engine optimization will not be the make-or-break difference in regard to my livelihood as a writer. Bulleted posts and proper formatting will not decide my fate. Obeying with religious observance the commandments of my self-assigned voice and direction is not mandatory.

A writer writes

I talk out of both sides of my mouth, you see. I feed my craft as a writer, and I work nearly every day at it. This is good. I speak to my loved ones and write on my blog, however, about how any commercial victories I have as a writer are none of my business, and that it is my job simply to write.

To what end, then, am I driving myself? Why do I squeeze joy out of my experience by whipping myself to a deadline of a determined content amount and social media promotion? I understand I can do these things without kicking myself forward. I suppose I get caught up in the same-old-same-old.

I write on. When I stop typing, my fingers go in my mouth. I chew my nails and the skin around them. It’s like my fingers are trying to tell me something. I’d prefer them on the keyboard.

Next time you have a paralytic sense of writer’s block, try this…take a deep breath and let go of what you are thinking. Focus on this one thought for three seconds – The job of the writer is to write. Any more than three seconds, and you may risk over-complicating its simplicity or adding unnecessary qualities. It’s a very simple statement.

Now, put your fingers to work.


DONALD HUFFMAN

don

Bio:

I’m an aspiring writer who has a full-time day job in healthcare.  I turned a self-destructive and drug-addicted life around almost three years ago, and with that, had a revelation of sorts that I was put on the planet to write.  I’m in the editing stages of my first book and have started a blog at http://donaldhuffman.com on the journey of writing seriously and professionally.

Donald’s Links:

Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:

1) How Your Well-meaning Ego Kills Dreams


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11 comments

  1. Hi, Don. Here you are again! First, let me say…glad to see you; second…you are once again “laying it all out there”; third…hooray for you! I like it – indeed, I do!

    Ahh…this writing thing – we wallow, bask, dread, revel, despise the clock, and have a love-hate relationship with our bed! On the plus side we needn’t allot any time for counting coins.

    Your words needed to see the light of day. Well done!

      • Don…no apology necessary! If a time thing is involved, I’m comfortable agreeing with Grundy Pumpetts theory – it’s about tyme!

        Looking forward to your next post…keep up the good work!

  2. “I jump headlong into the process, letting my mind scream and my fingers dance.” This is my favorite sentence because it aptly describes the wrestling we do as writers, in picture form. I do love it when my fingers dance! I can so relate to the back and forth of the internal struggle. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Donnie – I appreciated this very real look into your writing. If we took a roll call of self-saboteurs – I would certainly raise my hand. I will think on your words “the job of a writer is to write” next time the negative thoughts start creeping in.

    • Thanks Terri! Maybe part of the journey of a writer is to periodically forget about the writing part and make big deals out of nothing, I dont know…

  4. Hi, Donnie. I know we all suffer from writer’s block and glut, but I believe that you’ve found a new category – writer’s berating. And unfortunately, we’ve all done that as well. I appreciate your candor in this post. Many of us would be afraid to be this candid, but I can relate to all of the negative thoughts and feelings that you expressed about yourself and your writing. Thanks for such an honest glimpse into your world.

    • Thanks Marilyn, and I’d like to apologize to you and the other four people who have commented for taking so long to reply. I like writer’s berating – sounds painful! Oh well, such is the journey…

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