Friday, November 30, 2012

Finding Your Writing Mojo

I hear this all the time: "How do you stay motivated to write?...How do you write?
There are different methods for different authors but I wanted to share mine in case that it may motivate others to scribe away.
Writing is not easy. But the payoff is worth it if you stick with it.  I've always equated writing with my weekend hikes, which are not easy either. At times, I don't want to get off my sofa and trudge to the top of the William Powell Bridge by Key Biscayne (or the Blue Hills just outside of Boston when I lived there and now visit) to hike a mile across and back.
William Powell Bridge, Key Biscayne
I have to psyche myself up, imagine an invisible version of me pushing me from behind saying "Oye, go go go! Aller aller aller" to get started. At the bottom of the causeway/hill, I stare ahead at the paved trail and think to myself, "Why do I do this to myself?" (Okay, part of that answer is because I've had a long sweet addiction to the just-baked chocolate chip cookies at Subway where I eat lunch daily in Fort Lauderdale but that's a whole other story.) I know that once I begin to walk/hike, putting one foot in front of the other, feeling my calves and bum muscles tighten with every step as the adrenaline courses through my body, I establish a certain rhythm and flow. I get all Zenned out as I absorb the sights and sounds of the path and my mind wanders. Before I know it, I've reached my goal, the peak of the bridge (or the top of the hill.) Mission accomplished. I don't remember how I got there. I just know that I did.
It's the same with writing.
There are times when I really don't want write but I do it anyway. (Again, that invisible version of me nagging me to write things down. Such is the beautiful curse of our lot.) Those are the times I end up writing a chapter or two in one sitting. It's hard to explain what drives me to sit down and write a novel (I still can't believe I've written four books in 6 years), or to jot entries in my journal or here on my blog/site.
It's part compulsion, part nature. The words tumble out of me, sometimes with the ease of breathing. Other times, labored as if I have a stuffy nose. I don't know where the words comes from. It's as if it comes from a bottomless creative inner well and I keep dunking my pen for more stories.
I find that when I'm not writing, I am writing at least in my head as I walk around downtown Fort Lauderdale or along the shaded-streets of Coconut Grove or bike ride in Boston and Providence when I visit.
Thoughts form, sentences flow and I stop what I'm doing to scribble some passages down on a Post-It or any piece of paper within hands reach. Then suddenly, the thoughts become sentences, which become paragraphs, which becomes pages of words. And an hour, or two clip by.  It doesn't matter how raw or unpolished the copy is. The important thing to remember is to write what you can at the time. Get the copy down in some form.  No one can do the work but yourself. You have to will yourself against the blank screen staring back at you like a draw.
You will always have time to massage the wording with the rewrites (which I find more fun.)
(Photo to the left is Blackstone Blvd. in Providence where I enjoyed bike riding.)

It helps that I carry a notepad wherever I go to scribble dialogue or descriptions from a neighborhood or restaurant that I think will come in handy for a future chapter. (Napkins from Subway and Dunkin' Donuts also work well.)
What also helps me is reading some of my favorite writers. I find that creativity begats creativity. I read writers and journalists whom inspire me.
And then there are ther print-outs of a recent chapter or two that I wrote and then edit at the gym on the ellyptical machine (more difficult than it sounds) or while sipping an small iced caramel McCafe because writing can be so unpredictable. You never know what words are going to come to mind and what fits best when.

Other potential helpful links:
Here is a link to another previous blog entry which explained how I wrote my first novel, Boston Boys Club, and then sold it.

And here is a link to a previous entry I wrote on How To Write When You Have a Full Time Job

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