Ms. Doyle Responds to Comments from an Earlier Post
Dear Readers: A few months ago, I responded to a question about writer’s block: the writer wanted to know how to get the juices flowing again. My advice, in short, was to daydream. (If you want to refresh your memory you can read my post on 1/19/16). Two comments were offered up and I’ve been meaning to respond to them and add a few more thoughts about the creative process. The comments are copied below:
I think I have to disagree with you, Ms. Doyle. Daydreams aren't writing; only writing is writing. When I'm stuck, I find it's usually because my mind is so busy being cowed by the scope of what I'm trying to write, or getting stuck in endless loops of possibilities, or weighing one approach over another, that I just give up and go do the laundry. So instead, I start small, without thinking about it: an idea, a sentence, even just a few words. But they have to be words on the page or the screen. Most times, they'll demand something more -- some extra words, a better description, the logical next sentence, an idea to hold in storage for the following paragraph. Then soon enough, there's some writing there, along with the sudden quickening that tells you momentum may actually be possible again.
Daydreams on the one hand, deadlines on the other! You've got us going in two directions at once. Sounds like you're suggesting we go easy on ourselves until an idea strikes -- and then be stern once it has. Sort of like structured play.
really think there is a conflict between daydreaming and the discipline of the
act of producing. The artist must do both. How s/he balances them is individually determined and fluctuates over time. What stimulates the “juices”
probably changes over time too. Stimulation from colleagues might be invigorating
or enervating. Retreating to a room of one’s own can be productive or
isolating. Being responsive to one’s own changing needs is key.
with the first comment that practice practice practice is extremely
important. New ideas get born from the discipline of exercise. The second comment takes my meaning about daydreaming: it’s important to have enough time to
do nothing. Maybe an idea doesn’t arrive for a very long time. OK. So maybe you
go back to practice practice practice. Or the laundry. There’s no right or wrong, there’s only
what works for you.
Some authors claim that they are really writing the same story over and over: the characters and plots may change but the basic themes remain constant. This rings true for me. We all have repetitive inner dialogues going about our work, family, friends. Wouldn’t those dialogues influence what and how we write? There’s so much unconscious fantasy yet to be tapped! Daydreaming gives a way to access our individual raw material. Practice hones our style.
So, yes, it is like structured play. D. W. Winnicott, that wonderful child psychoanalyst of the last century, said that play is the child’s work. And I would say the creative process is both the play and the work of the artist. Not to be quantified or rationally defined. But I know it when I experience it! I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote from Winnicott’s Playing and Reality:
The thing about playing is always the precariousness of the interplay . . . This is the precariousness of magic itself, magic that arises in intimacy, in a relationship that is being found to be reliable.
This holds true for any kind of nourishing relationship, whether with parent, child, partner, or friend. It also describes the relationship I feel with myself in those elusive, ineluctable moments of creating.
Do you have a question for Ms. Doyle? I would be happy to respond to questions on love and relationships, and anything else that leaves you in a quandary. Email: Ms.Doyle.DailyUV@gmail.com
or post your question to my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dearmsdoyle
You can sign up to get an alert by email every time I publish, usually Tuesdays.