Zen, the Turtle and Write

Zen. I love the sound of it on my tongue. I have placed a Zen area in my yard, to sit and think, relax and meditate. This Zen feeling I get- call it euphoria or peace, has helped me get through a summer filled with exciting new experiences, lessons to be learned, and just living in the moment. I sit at my desk this morning, drinking a glass of Pinot Gregio– yes, it’s morning, but nearly noon, and I have realized that it’s time for another post. Ideas have been flooding in from everywhere, and I really don’t know which topic I want to discuss, so I’ll just continue my morning sips of wine, and like a Zen feeling, see where it takes me.

I hate giving the impression that I am some type of writing guru, a know it all, a somebody who loves to give advice. That’s not who I am. I hate following the stream of other bloggers who always seem to come up with the same ideas at the same time. I don’t want to exert my ideas as being the “true source” in any blog or conversation.

Lately I have taken up the book, Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. It is a book I had to read twenty years ago in my creative writing class in college. I recommend this book to anyone who is a writer of any type of genre. We all have problems coming up with ideas for our writing. We aren’t prepared for those times of emptiness in our writing well of thoughts and ideas. It always comes as a shock to me when there seems to be nothing I want to write about. What have I done during those times of dry spells is not do anything. I beat myself up,or get very creative in ways to convince myself that I don’t need to write at the moment. I procrastinate like a the slowest turtle who just barely takes one step in front of the other. Like the turtle, I don’t get too far.

So what can we do if ideas or creativity starts to run dry?
Here are a few suggestions I have taken from Natalie’s book that you might find helpful.

1.Meet with a writing friend or friends for coffee to share what you have been writing. With the ease of email, a meeting isn’t required, but it is much nicer to get out with your writing and your friend. When I do this it does spur me on to have something to share.

2. Start or join a writer’s group. Natalie lived in Taos,New Mexico, so there was never a shortage of writers, but in your area or mine, they aren’t always so easy to find. You may want to contact your local bookstore or library to find out where they are located. If there are none, start one! I’m in a wonderful group- The Shelby Writer’s Group- and together we share, critique and just enjoy the time spent with other writers. I hate to use the word TRIBE as it is so overused for running with like-minded people, but I have to relent and say they are my “Tribe”.

3. Treat yourself! Don’t beat yourself up if ideas don’t come. Use the time to go exploring or share in others creative endeavors. It doesn’t have to be writing. Go to an art show, or a poetry reading. Others’ creativity can excite yours.

4. Start a list of ideas that just seem to pop in your head from the universe. Write them down and use them in those slow turtle times. As you think of one or two, just add to your list.

5. Journal. I keep a journal on my bedside table. I write whatever comes to mind of my day, my issues, etc. Silly ideas and glorious lists of gratitude are written. It’s also fun to look back and see some personal growth as time passes.

6. Use a pen and paper to connect. Remember them? There is nothing like the feeling of the pen in your hand with a new legal pad. The physical connection of the pen in the hand and the paper can speed up the writing process.

7. Just write to write! Throw away the rules you have learned. You aren’t in school anymore and there is no one to correct you. The freedom this brings! There are no A’s or F’s– just pure writing.

8. Just relax, take a deep breath, and walk like the turtle if that helps get to where you need to go. Eventually you will get there with the calmness of a Zen Master and the peace of a turtle.

Any comments from other writer’s I would certainly appreciate.