September 1, 2023
Happy Labor Day!
I don’t know about you, but I blinked, and the summer was over!
If you can, take the extra day to reflect and relax. What are your writing goals for the Fall? Do you have a plan? It’s good to make a small plan that is possible for you to execute, such as committing to the five minutes needed to create a Word of the Day cluster each morning when you wake up and then maybe designate ten minutes to work on your project. Doing a little work before you start your regular day, you turn on the creativity channel, and your mind will work for you behind the scenes.
This past weekend, I visited dear friends in the Hudson Valley, and in the car on the way back to the City, the driver confided that he wanted to write a book.
“How do I start?
“I know this may sound obvious, but you must get your thoughts on paper.”
“But I have the whole book in my head.”
“And that’s where it will stay unless you commit to putting words on paper.”
“I have no time to write. I have a wife and two children now. I drive to make a living for them.”
“What would you write about?”
“My family’s story. My family is highly educated. My father and uncles were doctors. We have a history going back many generations.”
“You spend a lot of time driving, do you not?”
“Yes. Ten to twenty a week.”
“What do you do while driving?”
He looked confused, then, “Oh, you mean like listening to something.”
“Yes, what do you listen to?”
“The Koran, and I speak the words along with it.”
“What if you began to take a little time and dictate your story while you drive?”
He was quiet. We drove a few miles in silence; then he blurted out, “But I don’t deserve it.”
“You don’t deserve to succeed as a writer.”
“When I was younger, I didn’t work hard, I didn’t want to study, I wanted to travel and see the world. I didn’t want to be a doctor.”
“What’s wrong with that? Writers need to have experience so they have something to write about.”
“I didn’t get proper training, so I can only do this.”
“I disagree. Why are you punishing yourself?”
” I feel guilty that I didn’t listen to my father. He told me I would end up like this.”
“Why can’t you write?
“I have two young kids, and my wife doesn’t work. I’m almost thirty.”
“If you want to tell a story, you can dictate while you drive, and then later, you can revise what you’ve written.”
“My father would laugh at me.”
“What if I could prove him wrong? Wouldn’t he be proud that you wrote a story of your family?”
“I never thought of that.” He smiled for the first time. “He would like it.”
“How do I get started?”
“First, you have to forgive yourself for what has already happened.”
“How do I do that?”
“Be humble; believe that everything that has happened can be an opportunity, not a problem.”
We drove a while, then he said, “It never occurred to me that I was in control.
I see that I have been holding myself down, and I see how I can stop.”
Before we parted, I gave him a notebook. “Just write down thoughts or memories when you think of them and then expound when you’re dictating as you drive.”
“Where do I start again?”
“Here’s a first line: It took many years to understand that the only person keeping my life small was me. I blamed myself for not being serious about my studies and becoming a doctor like my father. Stories work best when you start at a painful spot, like realizing what you have done to yourself.”
He said, “I feel like I’ve been let out of prison.”
“You let yourself out.”
He offered his hand. His smile was pure sunlight.
We all have belief systems that limit our possibilities for success. Ask yourself if there’s something that you feel guilty about that keeps you from being creative, and reason it out. Self-understanding is the writer and artist’s most important job!
The Word of the Day Practice is designed to create self-awareness and then maintain your insights through daily practice.
Please join me for the next Word of The Day Webinar on September 13 at 7:00 pm EST.
We will learn how to use the Word of the Day technique to develop original and believable characters or to expand our understanding of the characters we’re currently writing about. Curiously, I’ve used the Practice with some of the people in my life and have gained a surprisingly better understanding of them!
Please feel free to share with your own community of creatives!
Here’s to your writing success,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz