Sunday, June 6, 2021

Writers' Pantry #73: Encouraging Ourselves

Greetings, dear wordsmiths. I hope you are all successfully navigating your circumstances and being sustained by your writing lives.

Sometimes, however, the creative energy flags, and/or we doubt the value of our efforts. Here are some things to remind ourselves of, when that happens.


For Poets:


Recently I came across – and now can’t find it again to reproduce it exactly – a quote from Basho, the great haiku master, saying (something to the effect) that if a poet manages to write only one good poem, that is a successful life.


Knowing a little of how Basho and his colleagues went about it, that means one out of hundreds – even thousands! Yes, it's extreme, but I bet we can all remember back to a time when we were starting out, and dreamed of writing just one really good poem.


Note, he didn’t say anything about having to communicate the one good poem, or receive any kind of applause or reward for it. He also didn’t say it had to be a great poem, nor better than anyone else’s, nor even that it had to be the best you yourself would ever produce. (It probably would be the best you were capable of at the time of writing it, given that we don't intentionally write bad poems.)


All of which means we’re all already there, and have in fact exceeded the goal! I guess there must be people who write only bad poetry, but they are not among this community, all of whom continually produce good poems.


It must follow that the life of a storyteller who produces one good story has also been successful.




For Storytellers:

Currently I’m reading the very exciting ‘Magisterium’ books by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare: a fantasy series for children. (Don’t laugh; you all read Harry Potter didn’t you?) In an author interview at the end of the first volume they are asked what special advice they have for aspiring writers. They say (not new but worth being reminded of over and over again – because though we all know it, we also all slip):


There is a special mantra we writers use: BICHOK – Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard.


The special trick is to keep writing! Even when you don’t feel like it and you just want to hurl your laptop out of the window, just keep writing. Try to have fun with it too – writing can be very frustrating and draining at times, so it’s important not to lose the sense of excitement you felt when you first imagined the story coming together and the characters began to form in your mind.


This, I realise, could mean a daily habit of writing, a once-a-week appointment with one’s writer self, or whatever else suits – so long as it’s not a one-off or spasmodic thing. It’s the keeping on keeping on which works. 


Yes, we all do have those times when we stop, of course. The thing is to pick ourselves up asap and get back to the regular habit. Well, we know that, don’t we? We keep turning up for our regular writing dates here. 


And so we also know that this advice works just as well for creating poems as it does for telling stories.  (Especially if there's coffee.)




What is your favourite tip for writers? How do you encourage yourselves? 


Do please share this in the comments below!


Now I await your excellent poems and stories, old or new, on any topic. Prose pieces to be 369 words or fewer (excluding title). One submission each, please, and link to it on your blog in the Mister Linky below. We’d love it if, on your blog, you’d link back to us at this post, too.


This upcoming Wednesday Rommy will be asking us to write about either moths or butterflies (or both!).



Images free from Unsplash, by (in the order in which they appear above) Miguel Bruna, Fa Barboza and Sincerely Media. 


21 comments:

  1. What a heartfelt positive encouraging post for writers. We do keep turning up here year in year out...Thank you for keeping poetry alive!

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    1. You're very welcome! Thanks must go to all of you too, without whom there would be no community.

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  2. Greetings Rosemary and All,

    Sunny Sunday morning greetings from the UK. I trust this finds you all in good spirits as the new year progresses. How spot on these thoughta are… What we have to share with each other and its enduring value… Last week we released another new poem ‘Time is…’ This probably the last in a recently posted sequence that to some extent looks to speak to issues raised by pandemic and engage specifically in the notion of hope and the human spirit, moving forward. Hope it touches you… The world becomes more dystopian by the day it seems - so we must all certainly hang on tight to the light and our precious creative kinships, as best we can... Look forward to catching up with everyones else’s offerings real soon.

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    1. Thanks, Scott, for those positive words! I'll be very interested to read the poetry you share, in a little while.

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  3. A happy Sunday to you all, fellow writers. And what a coincidence, Rosemary! My post today is along the lines of your wonderful and encouraging words. Thank you, I need this reminder from time to time. And also many thanks to all of you here, who read my jottings!

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    1. Oh, how fascinating! I'll be over to have a look shortly.

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  4. Thanks Rosemary for opening the pantry doo to us today.
    Wishing all a Happy Sunday.

    Muchđź’›love

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  5. BICHOK ~~~ the message and inspiration I needed! Thank you Rosemary.

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    1. You are most welcome! (I need it too, now and then.)

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  6. good day, poets!

    Rosemary, I liked what you said about the things to remind ourselves when we doubt the value of our efforts in writing. There are lingering doubts, but most of us will soldier on, because we love what we are doing.
    I remembered in my late teens, I wrote a poem about sea pollution, and i thought, man, that was the best poem i have written. i still have that very yellowed page with me. looking back, it was an angsty poem, but the passion and anger cannot be faulted. i don't think i want to publish it anywhere though. :)
    Thank you for the tips & advice.

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    1. Yes, I think most of us do have those lingering doubts most of the time, but the love of writing (or compulsion!) keeps outweighing them.
      And yes again, some of those early poems may have lacked finesse but were wonderful in their passion. And sometimes, tinkering with them would risk removing that. I like to keep some of mine which I would not now wish to publish, but they were milestones for me, and as such have sentimental value.

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  7. The Poets and Storytellers United group of poetry and story bloggers are some of the most beautiful people in the blog world I've ever met - you offer the most kind and generous comments. I am humbled and encouraged to practice and learn more every week. Thank you all so much. I tell my non-bloggity (but interested to read blogs) friends about you every chance I get.

    Harry Potter, ah.... Guess I'll always be waiting for my acceptance letter. :-)

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    1. Yes, this is a great community, with a really good feeling to it. I love being among such excellent writers who are also such generous, unpretentious people. Hazel, you fit right in!

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    1. Ah yes. My late second husband, Bill Nissen, a fiction writer, used to listen to music whilst creating. He found Dvorak's New World Symphony particularly inspirational.

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  9. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I have thought about quitting writing, but it means so much to me I continue on. I'm currently battling Shingles. I'm a bit grumpy yet grateful it isn't as bad as it could be by far.

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    1. Oh, my sympathies for your Shingles. I have had that in the past; VERY irritating!

      I think it would be a great loss if you were to stop writing, Susie! I personally would be extremely disappointed. (Reading good poetry is one of my greatest pleasures; more than trying to write it.) I'm glad you have realised it would be a loss to yourself as well as everyone else.

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  10. My tip for myself (and other writers, I suppose) is "Write. Have fun with it. Share it if you want/can." It's what works for me.

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  11. Being late to the party (sorry), two bits of advice that I found: Hemingway said to be a good writer you have to read good writing and provided a list. The second was from Ray Bradbury who said to write a short story every week and you're bound to have a good one in that year. I've not heeded either author's advice to their fullest.

    Rosemary, your word sporadic describes my current spot in the universe. I've allowed time to sneak by and get wasted. I can pledge to do better but...

    I know I've not posted much lately. Much of my writing is hidden (for now) for some cannot be shared, some isn't ready and some was deleted because I couldn't like it.

    As always, I appreciate your encouragement, Rosemary, both personally and to the community. You are a special light that I'm glad to have met online.

    I'm off again to haul water to trees that I planted this year. We're in a dry spell after a wet May and they need all the help I can give them.

    Cheers!

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