Five suggestions for (stress-free) writing | PostIndependent.com
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Five suggestions for (stress-free) writing

CMC CornerMary Peace FinleyGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mary Peace Finley
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Fear of the blank page.It’s a common fear that can paralyze any writer. But when I teach a fiction-writing class or workshop, I share ideas on how to move beyond fear to good writing.1. Capture an overall concept, or begin with minute detail. There is no one right way to write. People use many approaches, some intuitive, some cerebral, some a mix of both. Experiment. Free yourself from “oughts.” Discover what works for you. One way I begin is to brainstorm ideas in clusters or webs. From one idea or image springs another, and from that another, and soon, the spurts of words flow into writing. 2. It doesn’t matter where you start. You can (and eventually will) structure the work from beginning to end, but in the process, bits of writing can emerge like beautiful quilt pieces to be stitched together later. Thinking that you must start at the beginning and write sequentially can stifle creativity. Writing can become forced, trudging through insignificant scenes just to keep going. “Quilting” can capture one isolated scene, whole and complete unto itself. If an inspired scene or line of dialogue pops into my head, I grab hold and write it in full detail without knowing exactly where it will fit into my story. 3. Don’t worry about getting it right. Just write. Striving for perfection is a red light to the flow. It’s the inner critic at work, the traffic cop yelling “Stop!” We welcome that critic in later stages of writing when we’re honing to perfection, but not in the beginning and not when we’re in the flow. 4. Invite inspiration. One of the greatest joys in writing is being “in the flow,” unaware of time and space, completely in the “now.” How do you do that? Arrange a space that allows relaxation and focus. Turn off the phone, close the door. Put yourself in a physical place where you can forget where you are. Then arrange your inner space to allow and enable you to reach the zone where flow happens. Sometimes I begin with a “writing meditation.” Eyes closed, I go deep into the silence, then I may pose a question or simply listen for what the Muses may offer. 5. Avoid saying, “I’m stuck! I don’t know. I can’t.” Instead ask, “What happens next? Why would she do that! What if … ?” Then forget about it. Go for a hike. Listen to music. Take a nap. Sleep on it. Ten minutes or 10 days later, surprise! A fresh insight bubbles up from the depths. Mary Peace Finley is an instructor of fiction-writing workshops for all levels beginning this week at Colorado Mountain College. She is the author of four award-winning novels and recipient of the Colorado Book Award.


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