On Writing: Why Prewriting Matters

deskIn the past, my writing style typically leaves out the all important first stage of writing—pre-writing.  When I write, I tend to write and then rewrite but rarely ever do I engage in pre-writing.

Needless to say, when I started taking creative writing classes at UMass Amherst UWW, I learned that I was cutting out an integral part of the writing process. Jumping right into the writing phase works if you know what you are going to write about, but when you’re stuck pre-writing frees up space and opens up the creative channels.

Reading Chapter 1 of Connie Griffin’s text, To Tell The Truth in my Magazine Writing class gave me a keener understanding of how to use pre-writing as a strategy to break free from writer’s block. The creative process needs the freedom to be expressive, and pre-writing can be seen as a fun exercise in letting go, while also trusting one’s subconscious in a “nonjudgmental and forgiving” way. (p. 5)

The Getting Started (p. 6 – 7) section in Chapter 1, helped me to understand that pre-writing is comparable to a dancer warming up with exercise and practice, or a painter sketching in a rough outline on his canvas in preparation for creating his painting using the tools of his craft. When seen in that light, I suddenly found how pre-writing should and could fit into my process. Continue reading

Quote of the Day: Terry Tempest Williams

Today’s Quote of the Day is from one of my favorite memoir and nature writers, Terry Tempest Williams:

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” ― Terry Tempest Williams

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” ― Terry Tempest Williams: When The Women Were Birds

 

*Lesser Goldfinches photo by Pamela J. Leavey

 

Quote of the Day: Joan Didion

Writing has always been a part of me. Thoughts I could not express in verbally came easier to the page. Yet I still struggled to understand that writing was part of the integral path in my life that cried out for me to follow. I follow that path now, struggling sometimes to force the words to the page, and hoping that those words resonate with others. Sometimes it feels like I looking for something hidden deep within a haystack. I persevere. I draw inspiration from memoirist’s like Joan Didion as I work on my own memoir.

I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer.  ~ Joan Didion

haystack

Musings: Stone Walls

There are troubles, that brew in my heart and mind, which are weightier than the stones stacked precariously upon each other forming centuries old walls across the landscape. I question the existence of my troubles as I question where did these stone walls come from?

stone wall

Who moved these stones from place to place to build these walls that block my path? Who took these stones from the earth and stacked them just so, creating boundaries where once there were none.

I am a woman with few boundaries, except when it comes to my heart, which I shield with stone walls, keeping love a bay. This is my truth, though I rarely speak it.  Continue reading

Musings: Dusk Sky and Geese

From my Nature Writing Journal…

sunset on the river

As I gazed out from my desk at the vista before me, I could see that just across the road to the waters of Merrimack river where I live. The sky was striped with soft pink and slate blue stripes. A flock of Canada Geese was flying just above the tree line. They were heading west with the sun announcing their presence with their loud call that sounded somewhat like an old car horn… “honk, honk, honk.”

Even as the sun was setting and geese were flying overhead, their call trumpeted through the still. Soon it would be dusk. The colors of the sky transmuted to darker hues that transfixed me. I sat on my porch bench and watched the sky dark until the blue hour had settled in. Another flock of geese could be heard off in the distance, or perhaps it was the same flock, flying back my way.

What message were they conveying to each other, I wondered. What message were they conveying to me? Stop, sit, and listen. Be in the still. Soak in the moments when there is nothing but sheer silence surrounding your presence. In that silence is where you find the answers to your deepest questions. In that silence is where you find peace. In that silence, is where inspiration soars like the geese winding their way along the river.

Musings: Lapis

From my Nature Writing journal…

The lapis blue water of the Merrimack River flowed towards the ocean in gentle ripples. I could hear the soft lapping sound of the water on the river’s beach. The tide was still heading out towards the mouth of the river, but the current had slowed to a gentle tug. The sun reflected golden ridges on the ripples of the lapis water.

Was the water ever still, I wondered to myself? I knew the answer… Never. Even when it looks to be not moving, simply static and still, there is an undercurrent flowing with the tides. By nature water moves, always.

Lapis Water - Merrimack River

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