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

Writers on Writing: Jane Bernstein

Reading Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” brought to mind my own very speculative mind and spirit that is in constant query as to the how and why’s of things. As a writer, my speculative mind and spirit causes me to look deeper into my own heart and mind, and I feel that it also grants me a strong intuitive mind that understands what is deep within other minds, connecting me to depths of humanity and life itself.  Reading “How and Why,” I could identify with Bernstein’s running, in that I walk, to clear my mind and “mull” things over. (Griffin p. 11)

When I am walking outside in nature, I lose myself into the landscape that envelops me as though I am one with it. When I am walking outside in nature, I tune out any extraneous real world soundtrack and tune into the concerto of bird song or the rustle of the leaves or marsh grasses whispering in the soft breeze or perchance keening in the wicked wind. My mind becomes clear, empty in that process of immersing myself in nature and it is then that I mull, as Bernstein does when she is running. There is a space in a clear mind that creates from a point deeper, more connected to the soul, which is a vital point of connection needed to write in the first person about one’s self and life.

Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” is available in Connie Griffin’s book “To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction.” This book has been my go to book throughout the past two years studying Creative Writing at UMass Amherst University Without Walls. It has also served as textbook and reference book for four classes I have taken with Connie Griffin, including two core classes, Frameworks of Understanding and Writing for Experience, as well as Magazine Writing and Creative Non-fiction. 

The practice of reading other writers on their struggles with their craft is so helpful. All writers struggle with finding their voice, creating the right space to work in, shutting out their inner critic and getting past self-doubt. Those are just a few of the issues that writers face. As I continue to work through my own issues with writing and work to shape my first memoir, look for more posts here on Writers on Writing.

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: All That Glitters

All that glitters, sparkles before my eyes as I sit each day at my desk watching the Merrimack River in its constant state of passage. I am like a passenger, perpetually voyaging along the river, though the motion runs afore my eyes, it too runs through me.

There are rivulets that run within the mighty river that races downstream giving visage to a fluid landscape that flows to the ocean and then turns abruptly with the tides and flows back upstream again. How can that be, you might ask. How can a river run upstream? A river at the mouth of the ocean or sea is affected by the tides. As the tide turns on coastline, so too turns the water in the river until it reaches a certain point where the tide can no long flow against the force of the river’s natural downstream direction. There is always, always flow. Like life. Continue reading

My Writing Life: Little Red Pays a Visit

I was hoping my move to the river a few weeks ago would provide me for good inspiration for my writing. It has taken me sometime to settle in to my new place and that has been a distraction from school, and of course my writing. The inspiration is starting to kick in, I am happy to say.

Writing has been my life and I’ve never fulfilled writing what I really wanted to write about so I am working on that now while I am working on BA at UMass Amherst University Without Walls where I am majoring in Creative Writing and Communication in the Digital Age.

I had a visitor to my front porch this morning. A little red squirrel who eventually started tearing into an old cushion on beat up wicker chair with a basket of fake forsythia in it. I grabbed the cameras. And then I grabbed my big 8.5″ x 11″ journal and started writing. I”ll take it… one page at a time.

Little Red Pays a Visit: Continue reading