Monday, October 10, 2011

What's It Like When You Write?

It's always a challenge to try to figure out what to write or blog about and I find that having a solid topic in mind is having half the battle won.  It's always interesting to hear how other writers do it and fortunately, I came across this Youtube video of Elizabeth Gilbert which I'd love to share with you.  Here she talks about the creative process.  Particularly, she speaks here about where she finds inspiration and generallly what her writing process / routine is like.  

Like her, I find conversations with people quite helpful but I must admit that this is something I don't actively seek. Conversations with strangers mostly just stress me out and rarely do they offer potential material given my style of writing.  Don't get me wrong though.  I'm not discounting the possibility of finding a gem of a topic given such circumstances.  All I know is that generally, it's my conversations with intimate friends that produce creative sparks and intriguing insights that I enjoy exploring.  

When I am struggling, I also find that just going out and being with nature inspires something in me.  For the most part, expect that the result will be something with a sentimental, or even romantic tone.

As far as the writing process per se goes, I always need to be in a quiet and relatively isolated zone.  I find it impossible to follow my thoughts coherently and allow the words to flow well when I'm distracted or when something external is competing with my internal 'noise'.

Lastly, and this I have just recently observed, oddly I find that I seem to be able to write better, easier and faster, when I am using my netbook rather than my other bigger laptop (which now functions more like a desktop since it's perpetually plugged in and can't be taken anywhere).  Somehow, this netbook makes me feel more like a 'writer'.  It doesn't make sense and it may sound strange but it seems to work!  Don't ask my why or how because I know it doesn't have anything to do with 'location'.  Even when the netbook is in the same room as the other laptop, the likelihood of me being able to actually produce something is higher with the netbook than with the bigger laptop...Weird!

Do you have any quirks yourself that help you in the writing or creative process?  What do you do or where do you go when you feel uninspired and are struggling to find a good topic to write about?


  1. When I write, really write, it's as if I'm possessed. I don't want to do anything else - not eat, see anyone, read or watch TV, no distractions except for maybe going for a walk. Just leave me alone, leave me alone, I beg, don't call me, ask me out, come to see me, wonder what's the matter with me. I'm in Paradise or in the loony bin, on a cloud where no one can reach me, or in bed with an all-encompassing lover. I'm madly in love with the words, the language, the story, the characters, the scenes, the emotions that pour out of me as if inspired by some force or power beyond or outside me, and writing becomes my everything  - until the world intervenes. 

    Three times in my life, I've been able to shut myself away like a hermit and concentrate solely on my writing. I live in hope of another such chance that will last until I'm finished. Selfish? Maybe. Don't understand? Who can except for me and other writers? 

    It's a long time since I've done any real writing. 

  2. I must be on my Mac...I find it hard to even write in a actual paper notebook these days. It's like I must be connected to my laptop, fingers touching the keys, for the creativity to come...what else helps - I agree, nature. I have to think about what else...

  3. Since I was a child, I spent time alone.  Reading, painting.  Especially painting.  Everyone would go to bed and I'd be up half the night painting.  It was a magical time for me.  I still prefer the solemness of night, or early morning.  These days I have been working hard at a new job, and still learning to find my rhythm.  So I am usually too fatigued to stay up at night.  But I find I think the best when all is quiet, and so early morning, sometimes as early as 2AM, works best for me.

    I can't tell you where my inspiration comes just happens.  I am thinking about something, reading something (these days mostly blogs and online things) and BAM! an idea hits and I am off and running.  That is how my haiku verse happens...

    I can work on the desktop, iPad, pen and ink and paper or pencil (for my art), I just pick up whatever feels right at the moment.  

    Thanks for such a thought provoking article Joy.
    ~cath xo

  4. I'm all about talking to strangers and part of what I love about Huancayo is that it's so much easier to talk to strangers. Less people look at me funny. =P But I had never purposely talked to strangers to gain inspiration nor have I purposely sought pieces of inspiration from any conversation. It's a good idea though because I find that I naturally pick up ideas from what others tell me or from discussing a topic with someone. Actually, now that I think about it, once I have a topic down, I do try to seek our conversations to flesh out the post. For example, I'll often try to get different opinions from different people.

    I'm definitely not a professional like Elizabeth Gilbert -- I would love to focus as she is able to -- but I have found that the physical surrounding has done a lot for my writing. It's done *everything* for my writing. It wasn't until I came to Peru that I started writing creatively (after many years) and professionally. I attribute it to being able to relax my mind enough to let the words flow through it versus my whacked out mind in the big city that's obsessed with never-ending productivity.Wow! Thanks so much for having me think about this, Joy! =) Maybe I should try the sitting in a cave idea that Gilbert had. =) Or maybe I should buy myself a netbook!

  5. Don't apologize for the long comment.  I love them!!!  Anyway, I agree that a relaxed mind is more productive.  I'm happy you moved (otherwise there won't be good stuff for us to read!), hehehehe.....Thanks too for sharing your experiences and your 'style' Sam!  :-)))))

  6. And thanks for sharing what inspires you Cath!  I can't imagine how it would be for me if I had a full time job outside the home.  I admire you and others like you who do that and STILL write and engage in creative endeavors!  

  7. Me too Janine.  I find it sad though that I've been finding it hard to hand write.  We've all been so used to being on the keyboard that our handwriting is suffering....well, mine is.  And yep, whatever works!  


Let me know your thoughts!