Tag Archives: creativity

Just Write the Next Thing

24 Jun

Computer screen

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how I stepped on a rat, and then met my favorite singer, Maxwell. I loved this post. And not just because I love Maxwell. I loved everything about it. It was an unbelievable, miraculous story. I wrote it well. The twists! The turns! The dramatic arc! The culmination in a life lesson! I felt like it was possibly the best thing I ever wrote or would ever write again. I wanted to relish it and bask in it and savor it.

What I did not want to do was write the next post. I always want to go out on a good note, quit while I’m ahead. Like being the one to get off the phone first when I’m talking to a guy I have a crush on–right after I’ve said something charming and adorable and funny, and before I turn tired and boring and run out of things to say. I wanted to freeze my writing with my Maxwell-and-the-rat post, hold onto it so everyone would think that everything I write is always that perfectly crafted.

The thing to do in this situation is to just sit down and write that next thing. Get over the hump, break through the resistance.

So I sat down, and wrote about going to a vision board party. I liked this post. It was honest. Open. There were some funny parts, and a pretty kickass playlist. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever written, would ever write. There were lots of reasons to scrap it (there always are) and they all seemed valid (they always do). Like, posting my vision board felt like taking a picture of my journal entries and publishing it. Like, nothing spectacular or miraculous happened. Adam Levine didn’t show up at the party and make out with me or anything.

But it was a solid post, and the most important thing was to get it down. Disregard the reasons to hold off and wait for some elusive bigger, better idea. Just write the next thing. And then keep writing.

The longer I go without writing, especially after writing a piece I’ve fallen madly in love with, the harder it gets to write that next thing. The more of a big deal it becomes. The more I need to have some fabulous idea or riveting story or life-changing lesson. The more I get bogged down and stuck, rejecting every possible topic that is anything less than off-the-charts incredible. The more I don’t write.

For writing to not become a Big Deal looming dauntingly in front of me, it has to be a regular part of my life, something I am consistently doing. Even on those days when I’m not sure what I’m going to say, and in those moments when I question if I have anything to say.

Writing my next story or post or kernel of an idea, I write my way through resistance. Through good enough writing. And I write my way back to writing that makes my pulse race, lights me up, gives me chills. To the best thing I’ve ever written or will ever write. I fall madly in love again. And then I keep writing some more…

Be A Bruise

11 Sep


Photo Credit: Laurie Scavo www.lauriescavo.com

“…to just really be a bruise, to be a wounded, exposed nerve to the world so that you can cure and somehow bring a common connection between us all through sound.”

-Maxwell, on the purpose of making music as a service and not out of being wrapped up in your ego, at the BLACKsummersnight Listening Party & Press Conference 4/28/09

This summer, I blogged about Maxwell’s Q&A at the BLACKsummersnight Listening Party & Press Conference, and there are so many juicy goodies in this interview that I want to return to it.  And also, not that I’m counting down or anything, but I’m going to see him in concert at Madison Square Garden in 17 days and 5 hours and 29 minutes…

In this interview, Maxwell talks about how some artists today get so wrapped up in their egos that they forget that making music is a service, and that the purpose is to heal.  And you do this, he says, but putting yourself out there as “a bruise…a wounded, exposed nerve to the world.”

This reminds me of when I was a rehearsing an emotional scene for a play over 10 years ago before I retired from acting, and my director saying that in life when you are crying and in pain, you put your head down and hide it from the world.  When you are acting and you are crying and in pain, you have to hold your head up and let the world see you like that.

This is what I strive to do in my writing – take the pain I have experienced, that I want to stuff down and hide from others and from myself in my life, and crack it open for the world (or whoever is reading my blog etc…) to see.  And it is totally hard and scary to do this.  The times that I have been the most open in writing, say, my Writeous Chicks Newsletters, like the ones about my depression or anxiety or insecurity, I will sit at home alone in front of my computer scared to put myself out there so much, wondering if I can really go through with it and press Send and usher my vulnerable, exposed words/wounds out into the world of my email distribution list.  But the ones that I have been the most scared to send have been the ones that I’ve gotten the strongest response to, and received emails from people thanking me and telling me how much they related to my writing.

Sometimes I put myself out there and it is not so well-received.  A few months ago I performed a story at a venue where I’ve kept my stories pretty light and comedic in the past.  But this time I wanted to delve deeper and talk about something that was difficult and painful for me, in a very open and honest and put-it-all-out-there kind of way.  As I told my story, the audience was silent, and I was unnerved that I wasn’t getting the laughs that I usually did.  After I finished speaking, I stood in front of the crowd feeling like a wounded, exposed nerve, and a very vulnerable one at that, and I walked off the stage in a daze.  I got lower scores on this story than I had on my previous stories, and although a few people told me they liked what I had done, it definitely wasn’t the positive response I was used to.

I continued to feel completely raw and exposed and didn’t even know when the event had ended, and had to ask my friend if it was over.  The next day I felt humiliated, and berated myself for putting it all out there like that.  But then, I remembered my intention, which was to do just that – to take a risk and put myself out there.  And I was able to shift from humiliation and self-reprimanding, to feeling proud of myself for my courage in admitting to and sharing my pain, and lifting my face up in a world that encourages you to deny and hide your pain, and keep your head down.

Maxwell splits his heart open and pours his pain into his music, which is in part why people resonate so strongly with it.  He also pours his joy into his music, and holds the whole range of human experience, the light and the dark, within his songs.  And because he puts it all out there, we then, as listeners, can connect to something within him that is also within us.

In writing or music or whatever form you are creating in, challenge yourself to be a bruise.  Sometimes you won’t go far enough and sometimes you will go to far and feel like a raw open wound exposed to the world.  Keep returning to the goal of healing and connecting, and eventually you will strike the right balance.  And keep heaping compassion on yourself as you do this and you will find that exposing your bruises and wounds will not only heal others, but will ultimately heal yourself, too.