Playing with words

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Writing Advice
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Playing with words means I go back to kindergarten. It’s like playing in a sandbox. So many choices. So many possibilities! But if you’re going to play in a sandbox, you’re going to need a structured space to hold the sand and to hold all of your wild, creative imaginings.

Having a writing space certainly brings familiarity and predictability, so all the words you have inside spill out like the bright sparkling grains of sand. Your writing space creates productivity even when circumstances change, and by necessity, you must change with them. You are able to come to that writing space time and time again to do the same natural process over and over again to get the same result: written words scrawled across the page.

Doing the same thing repetitively ingrains a habit. Good for writers, but bad for smokers and alcoholics. The tricky thing about writers is no one has the same methods for forcing yourself into your writing space, getting into the writing habit, and finding “The Zone.”

F or me, I do my writing in the early morning because I have work and night class. Mornings before the sun comes up are when I can plan what I’d like to accomplish without any distractions. My thinking is usually accompanied by a cup of coffee, a tasty bowl of cereal, and a fruit smoothie. I say to my brain, “Brain, what’s percolating? What’s cooking? What’s simmering on the back burner?” At this point I break out my mental pompoms and start cheering. “Let’s pump out some great words today. Let’s bash aside the critic. Let’s push the pen across the paper. Let’s let the fingers fly across the keyboard. Let’s write!”

Of course this is me on a good morning after I’ve had a solid eight hours of sleep. Most of the time, I’m half asleep when I try to arouse my brain into thinking coherent thoughts at 6 am.

If I can’t get my brain to function, I make a point to brainstorm during my errands or while I’m at work. Usually my brainstorming happens in the strangest places: near a housekeeping cart at the hospital, while driving in rush hour traffic, when standing in the shower, or during my daily walk.

No matter where I am though I try to be mindful of my bottom-line message by visualizing my audience. That is the only true writing habit I have. To be in tune with myself and my internal writing space, so I am able to write during any time or at any place.

As David Ebenbach advises in “The Portable Writer,” a writer must be flexible because “we are not who we are but what we do.”


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