Thursday, May 31, 2012

Was That An Urge I Just Felt?

"You said that sometimes you get the urge to write & other times you don't. How about a post about the things that inspire you to write? What gives you that urge?"
Kathy Wiechman

I'm going to try and answer this question today, because I totally, completely and utterly have no urge to write.

Ok, so I just sat and read the opening sentence to myself about fifty-three times, not the quote from Kathy, but my first sentence. It took exactly eleven minutes for me to move on to what I'm typing now and I'm still at a loss for words, that's Cliche`isn't it? "At a loss for words," and we as writers should avoid the use of cliche`. I'm leaving it in here though because it gives a teeny insight into whats going on in my thought process. If I write the words and ideas that are dawdling around in my head eventually I should hit on a theme, or so I'm told (another bloody cliche`, or is it?)

So now it's been about twenty minutes since I started and I'm still searching for inspiration, I looked in the fridge to see if maybe my muse was hiding in there, but all I found was a hard boiled egg and some jack cheese bread. So, after brushing crumbs from my keyboard I think I'm ready to get down to business, hmm maybe I should title this post "The Art of Cliche`."

Seriously why is it that the urge to write isn't something that I can just will to be there? because if that was the case then this blog wouldn't be subtitled "Struggling writer." it may instead read "Successful Writer, Converter of Urges."

I do get urges to write, obviously, sometimes they come after I read a great book, and they actually even come after reading a mediocre book, although these days I really don't have the patience for a mediocre book, so if it doesn't grab me in the first few paragraphs I typically just give up on it. Reading for me should be fun and inspiring. In fact I think I get more urges to write after I've deposited said bad book on the overloaded bookshelf or on Patty's bedside table (looking for another opinion in case I was just not in the mood for "The life and times of the Dung Beetle," what made me buy it in the first place? IT WAS ON SALE!) Sure, the urge struck me, but being the recipient of an urge doesn't necessarily make the jump to words on paper, it mostly translates to characters teasing me with images, and lines and tongues sticking out at me,  and then me rambling on talking out loud to the cheeky buggers who was just sticking their tongue out at me and then my dogs barking at me because they're confused as to why I'm alone talking to myself in the living room while Patty is engrossed by how Dung Beetle's manage to move huge balls of dung.

Occasionally I will however go to my desk or dining room table and start writing, it generally takes a lot of brain compartmentalization because now I want to write about the guy sticking his tongue out when I should in fact be re-writing the latest edit to "Stitches," so mostly what I end up doing is opening a new document and entering a few lines about that character...
You know who I mean right?
Yes, that one,
Nope I'm not going to write it out again, it's already in here twice and isn't that another rule? The fight then wears on a few minutes longer as I save the few lines ( About four hundred and twenty-seven... Dya like how I answered that question about how many one line pages of documents I have saved in my prompt file before you even asked? There's that writer again, answering unasked questions,) then I'll open up a couple of projects I'm working on, although "Stitches," always gets opened, and I'll scan them before deciding if I have the urge to write on one or the other. Sometimes I'll keep two or three open and work on them simaltaneously, similtaneously, simmaltan... at the same time.

That's one type of writing urge I get, another invariably comes often just as I'm laying down in bed, got the covers pulled up to my chin, flipped the pillow over for the cold side and kicked the cat off the foot of the bed.    You know how it is right? Your mind is still closing out the English bloke on T.V. selling that stuff for $19.99 with the bonus gift, you're closing your eye's one at a time trying to figure out where that pinpoint of light is making it's way through the blinds, subconsciously stroking the cat that snuck back on the bed, when BANG! the writing urge hits me, Now I know why that character should talk with a lisp, and why her red hair is important to the story, and why when she sticks her tongue out that way it really does matter, (You thought it was a guy didn't you? silly, if it was a guy I'd have punched him the nose wouldn't I?) so I lay there and say to myself "Get up and peck away at the keys, this really needs to get on paper," and just then the Ambien kicks in and I drift away into deep sleep and miss that precious opportunity, but nevertheless it was an urge, an unfulfilled urge. Maybe I should stop taking Ambien, but then all the insignificant stuff from the day creeps in and dislodges the creative side of my brain.

Without a doubt the strongest urge to write comes from being in the company of other writers, and for me when I combine that with Boyds Mills in upstate Pennsylvania, the urge is no longer a wish and a prayer it's a full on assault. I wish I could replicate what happens when I get into that rustic little cabin back there or when I sit in the old living room of the farmhouse (I'm still reserving judgement on the Barn,) with other aspiring and successful writers.
So, I think setting has a huge impact on urges, I'm not alone in that regard, I know writers would sit naked in an icy brook if it meant the urge to write could be acted upon. We kept that in mind when we laid out my writing cave, but as comfortable as it was it still didn't conjure up the Urge Monster, I couldn't quite figure it out, I love my desk, my chair is beyond comfortable, the view is stunning and inspiring, I'm surrounded by my collection of old, smelly, page worn books in the bookcase that I looked for, for literally years, I sat and stared at the screen of the laptop and all I could think of is "Why does that bloody cat always get on my side of the bed?" One day I figured out the problem... My chair and desk were not situated in the correct manner, I simply needed to turn it more toward the staircase and less toward the view. It worked to certain extent, at least now when I sit down here I am able to at least think about writing a little easier. 

I started this blog as a catalyst to help find the urge and so far a week into it I think it's working, I feel somewhat of a responsibility to write a little something a few times a week and so for now I'll try and summon up the Urge to Write in Spite of Myself.


  1. when you start talking about life at the Christian Brothers School, we can't get you to shut up (and nobody wants you to!). I love those anecdotes; write more of them please.

  2. Jon,

    Reading this post was the most entertainment I've had all day. I loved it.(The pictures, too.)I urge you to keep blogging, because the writing is wonderful. Maybe the urge to delve deeper will follow, but you're onto something here. More, please!

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  4. Forget about the cat's map of the bed. I want to see a map of your brain! It's a complicated puppy, isn't it? But when it's at full tilt, the output is amazing!