typewriter

I once had a dispute with my English professor. She said, no matter what you’re writing, you should always write an outline. I said bullshit…just say no to outlines. Maybe if you are being forced to write about something you aren’t really feeling (such as an essay for English class on the differences between Finnish and American governments) then, yes, an outline may be of some help because it’s not like it affected your spirit so deeply that you are bursting with something to say in reply. (Well, it didn’t me anyway.) But when it comes to poetry and prose…these are things written (or should be written) in the moment, as you feel it, when your spirit is deeply stricken with an emotion that you can’t do anything else but spill your feelings onto the page.

When I write, and this includes everything on my blog, I do not edit or outline. I write only in the moment. When something hits me and aches to get out. I cannot for the life of me say, okay, let me sit down and decide how this is going to be laid out:
Introduction
Main Idea
Supporting Evidence
Conclusion
…yeah right! I don’t think so. By the time I do that, the raw feelings beating in my chest would be gone, or at least diminished and I would be left with crap. Nobody reads…and more importantly, nobody FEELS crap. My goal is to take my reader on the ride with me. I want to put them in my head and allow them to feel what I am feeling. The chaos, the anger, the love, the joy, the sadness….whatever. I want to deliver something to them that they can feel the way I felt it. Not some perfectly manicured piece of dolled up fancy words that would never come out of my mouth anyway. For example, if I am upset, what I write is what they would hear my heart whisper if I were sobbing on their shoulder. And that’s how it should always be done. Of course, this is only MY opinion.

You spill your heart, bleed your emotions and in a beautiful plea, you say what is in your heart. Not stopping to question your choice of words, not going back and changing them, but simply crying out what you feel inside. That is how it should be done, whether your tool is your mouth or your pen. What comes in a moment of passion, is very much the truest of all things. And they will demand to be felt.

When I began writing at twelve years old, I didn’t concern myself much with form. Writing to me was always just a way to release something I felt inside and gave me freedom to express my emotions through words without the pressure of explanation to anyone other than myself. For example, I could take a gut wrenching heartache from being rejected by a crush and spill out on paper how it made me feel, whether I used definitive description of what one might call prose or the secrecy of the ‘abstract’, either way, the words were mine, I owned them and I felt better. Never once while sitting at my little vanity dresser in the quiet of my room, did I stop to critique my work and make sure my semicolons were in the right place or my line breaks were spot on. I just wrote what I felt, ignorant to the many rules associated with proper writing. All I knew was, words made me feel good and I found joy in my pen when my world was sad.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” -Ernest Hemingway

“People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.” -Anna Quindlen

I happened to come across a post by Laura Page, a fellow blogger over at Literary Legs, who seems to have the same ideas about writing as I do. “Messiness makes me happy”, Laura proclaims and I must agree.

The way I see it, there is a freedom in art. Whether you are a painter or a writer, the act of self expression is limitless and is such a deeply personal statement about the creator and their feelings. So, how can one place rules on that? It (to me) would be like telling an artist they can paint the grass but they may only use green, the sun but only orange. Or telling a poet the only way they can describe grief is by using the word sad. Now some might say my lack of care for the rules exhibits laziness or possibly that it’s an excuse to be sloppy and present inadequate work. What do I say to those people? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Simple. I own every word I write. Combining them and weaving them to please me, to satisfy me, to bring ME joy. Like a seamstress with fabric, a painter with colors or a musician with instruments.

Are you sick of the quotes yet? Too bad, here’s another…

“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” -Walt Whitman

Let’s talk rhyming…

This is another sensitive area for me, as I feel (and this is my own personal opinion) that rhyme is too restrictive. Grant it, I have written in rhyme on a few occasions and it only worked out when the feelings were completely on the surface and alive. Writing anything is always better in the moment you feel it, but for myself in most cases I am never happy with a piece of work that I feel I have had to force, and rhyme tends to slam me up against the wall and scream at me, “You have to use this word!” It is rare to match words that convey exactly what it is you want to say. Oh look! I just did it!

If you are familiar with my blog and have read much of my writing, then you probably already know that ‘prose’ or free verse is my forte, and even though I call it “prose” and “free verse”, it very well may not be up to par with the rules of writing such, but do I care? No. Do you care? Maybe. I simply enjoy the pleasure in putting my pen to paper or my fingertips to the keyboard and pressing away at the wonders outside my window, the feelings inside my heart and the chaos inside my head until I can exhale and go to sleep on my pillow without that little voice whispering to me “write this down”.

Art = Freedom… Do you agree? How do you feel about the limits and rules placed on the craft of self expression?

How do you feel about the art of writing? 

I could have left you with another quote, but instead I decided to share with you (in its entirety) the very best advice I’ve ever learned as a writer.
(Written by the legendary Charles Bukowski)

“so you want to be a writer”

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

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