Writing it down raw

It’s strange, but the more writing classes I take…the more confused I get about the act and structure of writing. It seems that the science has taken over my style…and voice. How do I get my rawness back after grinding the laws into my head? I feel like before – I knew how to naturally make something exciting — or at least I wasn’t too afraid to try it. Where as now… I find myself doubting everything and asking questions about Act 1, 2…and Climax and Resolution and blah blah blah. And it distracts me from the original story. The raw feeling of just writing is dimming and I need to get it back. Any tips out there? Any exercises to help?

I think I have to go back to the drawing board and remember what a mentor told me once. He said, “Write it down first and think about the science later.” The formulation of style and all that jazz can come later. Get the story down on paper first! Get it on the page. He always reminds me that research can come later. It’s difficult because I want to make sense all the time. But sometimes, nonsense is the way to go.

Sigh.

Laws. Sometimes, they get in the way n’est pas?

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Honesty

I joined this writing workshop recently and was like – okay, this hasn’t happened since 2011. Like a real writer’s workshop with a circle of people reading your stuff out loud and giving you feedback. It’s been interesting. So last Tuesday I shared a piece I had revamped but written before. I prefaced everyone with it’s a dialogue practice and what not because I was really nervous. So anyway, the whole thing went fine and people laughed at the parts they are supposed to laugh. And that was fun and all but then something really awesome happened.

Our facilitator decided it was REAL TALK time and gave us a group exercise that went something like this.

Answer the following questions:

1. Write about your best writing experiences
2. Write about a time when writing made you feel like an Insider? Outsider?
3. What advice practice would you share with someone else?

Then after we all wrote down our answers, he made us go into groups of two and share these truths about ourselves.

Blog Land, I kid you not – we all were laughing, and getting emotional over stories from high school, elementary school, childhood. Someone talked about how her single dad couldn’t handle talking to her about her school dramas, so he made her write down her feelings on paper and promised her he would read the paper in a time when he could. He would read it and then go to her room and talk to her about it. It was the most amazing thing! We all had really wonderful stories like that to share. The person I spoke to is a first time writer, but she’s incredible hilarious and only found out she loved writing through a theater group. So okay, I hope you get how great it was to share our honest true stories about why we do what we do – EXPRESS OURSELVES ON PAPER.

Then we talked about these thing with the larger group. Our facilitator informed us that this exercise was so that we could find out more about ourselves, share knowledge, and write down these stories that are incredibly valuable for anyone who writes.

He said that we as writers need to know what we love about writing, and what we fear about it. It’s invaluable.

I just wanted to share this exercise with you. Maybe you could do it with a group of your writing friends, or at a workshop. I learned so much about why I may lack focus or drag my feet at times. We have small little traumas attached to these stories. It’s good to dig a little deep to get some real results.

And with that, I say BUENAS NOCHES!

La Peña on Shattuck Blvd. & COuNTeRPULSE.org

Just a quick update regarding my last post:  I have two options with the writing partnership. Either (1) I write up a contract saying, HEYO–let’s get published and split the profit, or (2) Pay me up front per page and you can have the book. What do you think? I’m still debating it.

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Anyways, this post is about a place I recently went to. It’s called La Peña. I was there with a group of performers, and the event was a potluck/creative writing workshop with a whole mess of people. Our facilitator was Marvin K. White, and the event was organized by dancer extraordinaire, Amara Tabor-Smith, and the non-profit organization, CounterPULSE.

Blogland—-it was so amazing being in a room with writers, non-writers, people, cooks, food enthusiasts, regular folks, Berkeley students, etc. We wrote on spoons, plates, cups, notebooks, and shared our recipes and meals with each other. It was the perfect hippie Berkeley moment, but with the bonus addition of Creative Writing.

I wanted to share some cool exercises we did as a group with Marvin K. White‘s guidance, of course.

1. Draw a line down the center of your page, and over the line start your prompt: “I come from a long line of…”

This exercise was fun because there was a range of possibilities.
Someone got deep into their history and roots and wrote about family.
I wrote, “I come from a long line of bullshitters…” and etc. etc. etc.
Try it, it’s fun.

2. Stone Soup Story. This one is tricky. You have to come up with 4 dry ingredients. 4 wet ingredients. Then you have to come up with how to prepare, how many people does it serve, and the name/purpose of the recipe.

People in the room got really creative with this one.
Someone wrote about high heals as one of their  dry ingredients,
and wet slushy sex as one of their wet ingredients. She ended the
whole thing with, “A recipe for disaster.” Everyone laughed.
And as writers out there know, you laugh when you can relate.

3. Since the whole event surrounded the potluck we had some cool exercises around our utensils. (1) On the spoon we wrote “Love tastes like…” , (2) on the knife we wrote about what cuts or divides us, (3) On our plate we wrote what feeds us, (4) On our napkin we wrote what protects us, or what can wipe our story away? (5) On our cups we wrote what do you thirst for? (6) And in the back of our plate we wrote the names of people who could not enjoy this meal with us.

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One of the most important messages I got from Mr. White last night was to always do these fun games because it clears your mind, and after you clear your mind, you can write anything. Writing is a practice. After you write, look back at your words and investigate what these words mean. How do they connect with the world or community you are in? Why are you writing them? What is the history of a word? Etc. etc. etc.

The whole event surrounded and celebrated food. It was great. It was to commomerate Amara Tabor-Smith‘s dance show, which I have seen and totally recommend–OUR DAILY BREAD. Their show will be up again in La Peña on Shattuck Blvd. Come support these artists and check out this community space. It’s beautiful!

Long live Art.