How to Get on Track and Stay There (according to Dulcie and Regina)

How to Get on Track (according to Dulcie)

1. Go back to something you’ve written before and read it out loud.  This can include an email to a friend, a journal entry (if you do something like a journal) or a note to yourself or a list of what you need to do today.  Walk around while you read it and notice what gets your attention about it.  Maybe it was a word you chose instead of another one.  Maybe it was something you misspelled.  Maybe it was an exaggeration or an understatement.  Just notice whatever you notice.  Then sit down and write for 5 minutes about what you noticed.  

2. Make a deal with a friend to send them something you wrote and ask them to send you something they wrote.  The thing you send does not need to be good, it just has to contain words.  Even consider making it a certain amount of words, like 500 or 1000.  When your friend sends theirs to you, read it and notice what you like and write them back and tell them what it is.  Ask them to do the same thing.  Be honest so that when they do the same for you, you will believe them.

3. Take a writing class or look around for a writing group and sign up for it.  Send in the money before you think too much about it and put it on your calendar just like it was a doctor’s appointment or lunch with a friend. Adult Ed classes are great to get on track and so are local writing groups.  Know that the other people who are signing up for them have probably read this newsletter and they are all there for the same reason.  Getting started writing is really hard but once the cap is off the pen, it can kind of keep going simply because that is what you went there to do and that is what the other people around you are doing.

4. Set up Headquarters.  A place where you want to write, a lamp you want to write by, an outfit you want to wear, music you want to listen to, tea or coffee or beer or whatever you like to drink when you want to feel like you’re doing something special.  Find a picture of someone you admire and set it near where you’re going to write.  Get a couple of books that have meant something to you and lay them on the table beside you.  Set aside an hour (or two, if you can) when you can be alone even if it means you have to go somewhere else or you have to put a Please Do Not Disturb on Penalty of Bad Vibe sign on the door.  Write the date and time at the top of the first page.

5. Get a Library Card.  There is nothing like hanging out where there’s a lot of books to get the writing tingle going, especially when they are books you can’t buy (which can sometimes have the opposite affect).  Bring a notebook with you when you go and find a comfortable place to sit.  Libraries tend to be quiet.  Interesting characters hang out there, both in the books and in the seats.  Consider writing a character sketch of one of the people you see in the library.  If you like what you wrote then just keep on going as in, imagine yourself meeting them or imagine them falling out of their chair or watch them as they get up to leave and write about where they are going.  Let your imagination run a little bit. 

How to Stay On Track (according to Regina)

1.  Make a pact with yourself.   When you truly set your intention for yourself and your work, you will just naturally begin to honor that.  In other words, establish a routine.  This means setting aside "x" amount of hours a day to write.  Mornings are sacred.  The time before the world stirs, before time itself sets in -- yes, before 8am.  Anytime between 5am -- 8am excellently lends itself to creating.  Dream mind is enmeshed with awake mind.  Truth is at its most accessible.  If it's after 8am, I've found that it's incredibly difficult to get any creative work accomplished.  So get up at dawn.  Make that pact with yourself and do it.  Have enough to say and you'll eventually get up without an alarm.  (With coffee awaiting, that is.)

2.  Dangle a carrot.  If you've made a pact with yourself you'll need a carrot to keep you there.  No lie.  So if you're producing, (i.e. getting up at 5am and "eviscerating yourself on the page" as Marlon James suggests) you're going to deserve a reward.  Not only do you deserve it, you need it.  So take the time to do whatever represents the carrot.  Maybe it's different every day.  Maybe it's ice cream.  Maybe it's a nap.  It doesn't matter.  You do your work, you get the carrot.  

3.  Connect with other writers or artists.  Making art is a solitary endeavour that can feel self-indulgent and sometimes downright delusional.  We know.  Which is why it's really REALLY important to surround yourself with people who do similar things with their time.  Make an artist date with them where you just join them in physical presence or make time to have coffee with them so you can talk about how crazy you feel when creating.  Alone at dawn.  Thinking about ice cream.  Longing for a nap.  

4.  Feel the feelings.  This tricky little business of making meaning isn't supposed to be easy.  If it were, everyone would do it and they'd all do it with wild success and we wouldn't be doing what we're doing.  The problem is, we have feelings attached to our words, our stories.  Except that really, that's not a problem.  That's actually the point.  So when the weepies set in or when you feel overwhelmed, don't give up.  Instead, console yourself and take a break.  Have a cup of tea.  Congratulate yourself for sitting with yourself.  With Your Self.  Because we have so many selves.  And all those many selves have many emotions.  Kudos to she who is brave enough to endure herself then cull the meaning from between life's lines.  But to get to the meaning you've gotta get through the feeling.  So cry if you need to, punch a bag if you need to but then let it go.  It's just a feeling and we are not our feelings.  We are so much more.  So write THAT; the "more" part.  

5. Don't quit.  
It's that simple.  Just keep going.  Even if you don't know what you're doing.  Even if you produce one sentence a day.  Even if it's as little as a word.  Keep going.  As Nancy Coleman says, "...words aren't the way."  She says follow phosphorescence and prayer because it's the only thing that matters.  Indeed it's the only thing that matters...as long as you're still at it.  Don't quit.  Don't quit.  Don't quit.  You're not alone, darlin'.