Hemingway is quoted to saying, “There is nothing to writing; all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” For a while, I wasn’t sure I agreed with this principle. After all, there is way more to writing than that, right? There has to be more… surely…
However, my thoughts on this idea have changed of late. Perhaps it is because I have become more used to my own mind as a vessel of imagination. Perhaps I’ve grown less tight-fisted when it comes to writing, allowing my characters to take their lives back and I just run behind them taking notes. Perhaps I have learned more about myself emotionally.
Who can say?
probably all of those.
Up until very recently, I pushed myself to write almost every day. That is good and honorable, but there comes a point where you realize the flaws in your plan. I should be writing every day, but because of the way I was making myself do it, I didn’t like it and the inspiration lake was dried up.
Alex, I’ll take “burnout” for 500, please.
After a lovely spring break of not writing, followed by a secondary spring break (lol what is the world right now) of some writing again, I have come to realize that I have an ideal writing state. For me, it is found in knowing myself well enough to know how to evoke the right mental state for said writing.
If y’all know the Enneagram and haven’t typed me already, I am a four. Shocker. For those of you not familiar with the Enneagram system, it’s a set of nine numbers that correspond to a personality type. I am a four, the individualist, or in some circles, the romantic. According to the Enneagram Institute, “Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious.”
o_0 yep, that about sums it up.
It should come as no surprise that I like to write as a form of emotional release.
*screechy rewind sound*
Emotional release? Why, that would allude back to Hemingway, now wouldn’t it? (I’ll answer for you) Yes, yes it would!
Now, I understand that some of you lovely readers are not as emotionally open as a four like myself. That’s perfectly okay. Every person has been perfectly designed to have the personality that they have. You are wonderful, valuable, and needed the way you are. If this is the case, I suggest you find ways to settle into that creative sweet-spot that work for you. I am in no way a pro at any of this, and the idea that anyone listens to my advice scares me at times. XD
That being said, here is how I like to do it. I’m relatively new to this concept, so bear with me.
I like to start my brain off with some music that makes me begin to feel things. In other words, I go listen to something that has emotional ties with me. Lately I have been listening to this playlist (down below) because there is a certain nostalgia that I can’t describe tied to it. There is a wistful happiness, a tugging at the heart. I look for the happy but open emotional rawness, and I go from there. For some reason, there is a feeling of a warm breeze as you stare up at a summer night full of stars. I also just described it to my friend as living in a pink sunset cloud castle in the sky. There is beauty, but there is an emotional side to it. I don’t know how else to describe it.
This idea helps me feel simultaneously more attached to my work, but also nicely distant from it at the same time. I hold it more loosely knowing that I can flood the page now and clean it up later.
Look for the reason you want to write (or be creative in general). When I used to sit myself down and make myself write, there was no emotional payoff other than the fact that I would have 250 words, 400 words, 87 words, heck, even 1 word more than I did earlier. This was barely enough to get me by then. Not being in the mood is not usually an excusable reason not to write, at least in my books, but if you are going to write, it does help to actually want to write. XD
Pray, pray, pray. Then, go pray some more. This is one of the most important things to do for me. I have learned to not let myself open up emotionally in the creative process unless I dedicate that session or whatever it is to the Lord and hand over the reins to Him. It frees me up to just write what He wants me to write, and it also puts my mind off of “perfection.” I don’t want one word in my writing to be something not of me.
So what is the lesson in this? I have learned that writing, like Hemingway said, is way easier when you open yourself up and just let go. When you find the emotion, go at it, but be careful not to let it consume you. I am really good at holding emotions inside of me until they physically begin to hurt me. Do not do that. Allow the emotions to flow out of your hands and into the words you write.
As writers, sometimes we have to write dark things to get to the truth. I would suggest that each time you finish writing, you pray that emotion back into the work. If your character is stressed, there is no need to carry that around. But in the moment, allow the Lord to protect you as you write from feeling too strongly.
I have gotten really upset a couple of times because of writing for long periods of time. I’ve noticed that there is a balance in life when it comes to writing. Being a four, I am really easily caught up in my emotions, however, I need emotion in my life to function. Well, we all do to some extent. But in my writing, there has to be a certain mindset or I have a really hard time.
My life nowadays has been themed around trusting God. This theme keeps popping up. Again and again, He will ask me gently, “hey do you trust me about *xyz*” and often I will realize that there isn’t enough trust in that one area. I’ll ask forgiveness for that, and then ask for more trust. Writing is a big trust thing for me. It takes a lot of trust to release it to Him, but every time I do, it is so much better than I imagined it would be.
So all that to say, get your writer brain emotional raw to write, but let Him do the rest and remember to leave it all behind when you leave.
I hope you guys have been taking care of yourselves lately! It’s been a funky time and while the introverts *sticks my hand up* are thriving, your extroverts aren’t doing so hot. Please remember to check in on your local extroverts!! Three of my closest friends are extroverts and I’ve facetimed one a few times, text my best friend constantly, and have promised to check on the other daily. Just because we are socially distant doesn’t mean we need to be distant. Take care of one another!!
Now go forth, mis amigos and amigas, and smile. Your day is just beginning. Make the best of it. Don’t procrastinate. Work hard. Make me proud. 🙂
Love you all,