Thursday, November 30, 2006

writing is therapy

I have always loved to write, but like so many things in my life - love has not always translated to dedication. In fact, some writing processes (like term papers and other assignments) have been downright torturous. I pride myself (foolishly) on the fact that I turned almost every single paper in late in high school. I was a master at getting extensions - and was rarely penalized for my late assignments. The most impressive example of such procrastination was when I turned in a term paper (upon which my entire grade rested) a full six months late (this was for an independent study course I took with a guest professor in college). I think my procrastination was tied to the fact that I really appreciate what writing is all about - and for that reason it sometimes terrifies me as I fear I won't do it justice. That and I can't stand bad writing - even on a minor assignment. If I was good at anything in school, it was English and writing. So I needed to do it well - and the fear of not doing it well made me put it off.

Blogging has helped my writing process immensely. First off, because unlike assignments and articles I've written in the past - it's first and foremost for me. I can run-on, start sentences with 'and' and simply vent if I need to. And kind-hearted souls out there will even respond! But even as I've freed myself up to do such things, I feel like I am actually learning about and improving on the writing process in a way I've never been dedicated enough to do before.

Somewhat tangentially, I heard an interview with David Crosby the other day that really resonated with me regarding the writing process and how he comes up with his lyrics. He said they often come to him while he's in bed - he'll wake up from a dream and suddenly just need to write them down. It's almost as if he's acting as an intermediary for something else - either that or they come from such a deep place within him they transcend the normal thought process. For the most part - my writing process (at least until this blog) has been somewhat similar. So I could never take myself all that seriously as a writer - because I didn't do much of the "sit down and write" kind of thing that so many accomplished writers practice. It was incredibly edifying to hear someone describe what I DO do, and mention how most writers keep a notepad by their bed and share a similar experience (Scrubs tribute: yes, I just said "do do"). Somehow it made me feel like there is an inherent writer in me after all - that laziness and lack of focus be damned - I have the integral spot inside that finds words before I even know they're there. And maybe I'll never do anything with them like write songs of peace or great poetry - but it feels good to know they might be there anyway.

Now, as a bonafide blogging addict, I at least have an outlet for the daily words and thoughts - and writing is becoming more conscious as I am actually learning to enjoy it for something more than spewing words on a page. Sure - most of my posts are still just that, but I have started to recognize just how long my run-on sentences can be, started to see when a passage could be enhanced by taking words away, rather than adding to it. The rules I once shunned are starting to make sense as I realize how much I have yet to learn about telling a story or engaging someone in an experience. I feel like I'm learning to communicate better and a long-time love has started to become partnered by dedication.

Thanks go to William Smythe today for throwing me a shout out and inspiring me in this post!


Anonymous Me: The Sequel said...

Coming from someone who is guilty of poorly constructed sentences (including the sinful starting of a phrase with "But..." in almost every paragraph,and yes- don't start on run-ons, I wince practically every time I read over my posts. It gets real ugly at times - but I love my posts like the deformed, sweet children that they are :D

The thing is that I love blog-style writing precisely because I feel free from literally crossing my "Ts" and dotting my "Is" - it keeps the tone conversational. No-one speaks formally - imagine how it would be like to talk to a friend who sounded like something out of Strunk's "Elements of Style"!

I like to think of a blog as a gathering of friends in a virtual sitting room of sorts - and I actually would feel that writing "too well" might kill that (neat excuse that - I'll use it more often) :)

But you get away with writing well,Megan, AND maintaining an intimate tone, so, Yay you. ;)

11/30/2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger Arthur Willoughby said...


It's really weird you'd write this today, 'cuz while I was writing today's post a thought interrupted me:

Why are you doing this?

I usually blog every day without thinking; just assuming my regulars are checking in and give a crap. However, when the comments are few and far between, even though it's frustrating I still keep writing.

It's a need. It's something I don't have a choice about. Things happen and I have to write about them even if no one reads it or gives a crap.

You summed it up very well.

11/30/2006 1:07 PM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

Sadia - I love that, "a virtual sitting room of sorts." It's true - overtly formal writing has little place in the blogosphere - and I'm with you on keeping my run-ons (i.e. my babies) alive in my posts :) Still, I'm enjoying learning to work with what I write a bit - so rather than taking for granted my point is coming across or I'm making sense, I'm actually taking a moment to clarify what it is I'm throwing out there into the world. Before, I suppose i was just lazy!

Apathy - do you find that it's a need in a good way though? I wrote a bit before going to bed the other night and it just felt good. What I mean is that versus an addictive need, it was a truly positive outlet and I gained some peace from it. Do you have the same experience?

11/30/2006 2:11 PM  
Blogger Arthur Willoughby said...

Oh Lord, yes...I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I don't even know how to describe it, really. This sounds completely stupid, but it's almost like my blog is a friend...and I need to check in regularly. Sort of like a stereotypical teenaged girl writing in her diary.

It's best when I write happy things rather than doom and gloom.

I love language, I really do. I love that 26 little letters can express anything from love to hate to annoyance to despair. It's like music.

11/30/2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

I find that I can definitely relate to the Crosby thing. Sometimes I'm just plodding along with a story or something and getting nowhere. Then I have a flash of revelation (whether I'm driving, in savasana, taking a shower or doing whatever) and the words just pour out of me when I rush to the nearest computer (or notepad.) What is the trigger. I'm sure that there must be studies that have been done on this. I'm going to do some research.

11/30/2006 2:35 PM  
Blogger S'Mat said...

herehere MI! my slightly red-eared reentry (too early, perhaps, in view or in lieu of the world's pokey, hurty bits that've popped up these last few days) today is much proof of this. i find it extremely hard to think or live at all without first gathering the momentum that words allow. i like the pace of the written word, the constonant sounds that stick and carry to others, the flicker of image they help gestate. most days, i can't even speak before feeling the 'flow'. i actually even dipped into a glum, shoe-gazing mood this past week, and i suspect much of it was for not having the blog as outlet..

i too delight in fiddling with the rules of grammar and morphology. you sum the experience up most pertinantly!

11/30/2006 4:01 PM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

AW - Not stupid at all. And 26 little letters - so true...

Eve - I look forward to your research!

S'mat - WELCOME BACK!!! So glad to hear from you and here's to throwing grammar out the window (though my real vice is making up words when my vocabulary doesn't support what I'm trying to say)

11/30/2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger S'Mat said...

yes! making up words is a pastime most funly fun!
i couldn't tear myself away. i lurked around on the web less, but had nothing to fill the void with except an overactive worry mechanism (a maternal heirloom). also, i kinda missed everybody.

11/30/2006 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A point in my life came where I started my book. Originally I had plans to have my life story published. How arrogant of me. I'm thankful that I couldn't see what it did for me at the time. It was an excuse for me to get all my hurt, guilt, anger and sorrow down on pages and it no longer resided solely in me. I wrote it through hours of streaming tears barely able to see the keyboard. How therapeutic it was and I didn't need to pay anyone $85 an hour to do it.

I think blogging allows me to talk through my lessons, if you will. Sometimes I've learned them and others I need to fake it until I make it... all the while knowing that others reading it keep me accountable and real. Does that make sense?

12/01/2006 10:53 AM  
Anonymous rose said...

:-) I absolutely agree with everything you said in that post. Blogging's just like talking to a friend or writing in a diary, only public and people can leave comments. It's a great ego booster. I think the only reason I pulled by boots back on and started writing fiction again is because of my blog.

12/05/2006 11:38 AM  

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