on writing: stop for the music
Sometimes when I’m writing, I get stuck, so I’ll walk outside and remove my mind completely from the words. I’ll load the dishwasher. I’ll turn on the music. I’ll go to the mirror and put on lipstick. I’ll read. Sometimes I’ll wait an entire day or week before going back because words can get stale. Words are supposed to be music, and if you lose the music, you need to stop.
Sometimes we stop writing for way longer than we thought we would. We lose the music all together.
The other day a girlfriend asked me what to do about writer’s block, and because my latest blog break was so beneficial, I said, sometimes you just need to step away. Stop trying to write.
For me, either I’m taking note of everything and putting it to words, or life is coming at me hard, and I’m internalizing it. My processor can get slow. Sometimes scenes, ideas, relational situations can muffle the way we hear life, and writing it out is a great way to hear better, but sometimes, voicing it actually drowns out intricate music that we need to be hearing.
Words can dull the way we live if we’re always writing for writing’s sake. Living is how the music enters in. Just because you stop writing for a while doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. It just means you’re listening to the music, realizing beauty in a new way.
I used to say that I didn’t know what I think until I’d written it out, and usually it’s true. I’m also a verbal processor. But the truth is that I’ve verbalized a lot of ugly things that weren’t true in an effort to process.
Sometimes silence is the best thing for our souls, and ultimately what is good for our souls is what’s good for our writing. It all works together.
There are concrete dots and tiddles in every nook and cranny of life – the crowfeet, the crack in the mug, the smell of pancakes when you pull out the winter clothes – and a good writer takes note. The details create the pianissimos, the breaths, the brass, the cymbals, the beat.
Do what it takes to hear the music.
And then write.