Before You Write

By Lynda Barry, re-blogged from Austin Kleon and thenearsightedmonkey

Before You Write by Lynda Barry

Before You Write by Lynda Barry

I love this comic.  Truly love it.  I found it on Tumblr a few years ago and used to look at it a lot when I was stuck.  I forgot about it for a while… and since I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places searching for inspiration, I found it again and here it is.  It reminds me of my kids’ writing assignments and the Wimpy Kid sort of elementary school graphic novels they devour.
(WImpy Kid.   Now I’ve got the Cheese Touch!  gah!)

Everyone has their own way of telling their own story.  There are ways to not color in the lines while staring down those lines.  Someone’s story might really surprise you or scare you, make you laugh.  If you have rules to follow, do so in your own style.  But where does it come from?

I feel as though I’ve been more creative in the looking for  inspiration during the past 9 days than in the actual writing.  But I’m having fun, I’ve awoken my sleeping Tumblr, and I’ve discovered some other cool blogs as well.  Chasing myself down the online rabbit hole has turned up some refreshing ideas.  It’s also carved out some serious lost time into more than a few of the past several days.  Has the end result been worth the lost time and neglected life tasks?  Sometimes.  Sometimes it depends on who you ask.

I’ve been thinking about what people do to light their own fires. I decided to make a list.  We know I love lists.  So here I am, making a list.  (so this post is two blog cheats.  A list, and writing about writing.  Ha!)

Oh, the places we go, and the things we do, just to spew the words out of our brains…

Laundry: one of the quickest ways for inspiration to strike is the need to do housework  Feeding and clothing my family.  Of course after staring at a blinking cursor for hours, once I hear someone yell, “there are no clean socks in this house!”  at least five good ideas will hit me.   One of which invariably is to tell  Things One and Two to do laundry.  And those who know me know that I’d rather do anything than vacuum. 

Other time-sensitive task:  Nothing says “write me” than the idea that inevitably pops into my head half an hour before I absolutely, positively need to get there on time.  (Like FedEx) Like if I have to leave the house to pick up my kids from school.   No one wants to be the parent who’s always at the end of the pick up line  – or worse, repeatedly shows up after the pick up line has driven away).  I was the kid who’s mom forgot to pick her up from school more than once.  Seriously for reals. Sad, but true.  (that’s a story for another time).  So I have serious issues about not being late to pick up my kids.  But once the muse decides to grace me with her fleeting presence, it’s hard to not heed her call.  To which I say, as I wait, parked in line, thank you mobile WordPress app!

If it’s not one thing, it’s another:  I often use the parenthetical phrase, but that’s another post for another day, or something to that effect.  (see above) It’s a fortunate and beautiful thing that writing spawns more writing.   Now I’ve just got to go back and find the several times I’ve written those words in the past 8 or so posts.  It would have been way too easy to make a note, right?

Thinking and Driving:  Aaah, the time-honored method of discovering the best ideas, immediately followed by the realization of how fleeting inspiration can be.  I have to really get into a habit of pulling over and making a quick note when this happens.  Because by the time I am near my lap top, the half written idea has vanished with not so much of a cloud of smoke and a “poof!”  This also applies to the shower.

Almost asleep:  That luxurious, soft and pillowy moment when I teeter between wakefulness and sleep.  Luxurious because it can all too easily be broken, and I am groggily called back to the land of wakefulness.  Most of the time, it’s some anxious and stressful non-insight that grabs me in a vice, yanking me back from much needed slumber.  Better is when the intruding thoughts are good ideas.  Again, this is where jotting down a quick note would be helpful.  Because getting up to write when I need sleep is can kill the following day.  As with the thinking and driving, it’s all about taking notes  and respecting the fleeting idea.

Journaling:  Again, the things we go through to spew the words out of our brains…  Writing the private stuff for no one else to see.  Going back to some of that for ideas to write about for all to see.

Life with The Things: as much as I try to not use my kids and personal life as fodder for each post (there are many mommy and parenting blogs out there, this isn’t one of them) sometimes my family produces material that needs to be written described and written.  Also, memories and musings from various parts of my sordid and dysfunctional past.  Good times.  Sometimes a good blog post.

So after writing this, (emphasis on the after, thank you very much!) I threw another poll out there into the morass that is my Facebook friend list.  These are their responses…

  • looking at (my wife’s) paintings
  • eat
  • work out (she then good naturedly wrote that it’s obviously been awhile, LOL)
  • the challenges of running a business – having kids – being responsible for so many lives – get my juices going
  • re-read something that I really enjoyed the first time
  • allow myself to get backed into a corner
  • yarn porn.  yarn patterns or yarn online. oh, music? listening to really great singers.
  • xanax
  • nature usually works for me
  • Yoga, meditation, the mountains, music, furry and non-furry family/friends
  • Ask Alice Munro, newly minted Nobel Laureate in Literature      (not too intimidating or anything…)

I love my friends.  They have been tremendously supportive of this whole month of blogging  venture, and of my writing in general.  This is the second time I’ve used Facebook to reach out for ideas, and that’s been a hoot.  Serious?  Not so much.  I strive to being the fluffy, the funny, the self-deprecating, and the fleeting thought that may wander through my addled brain.


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