Click here for more information about the Debbie Dougan Scholarship Donation

Follow by Email

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

“The best way to get quiet, other than the combination of extensive therapy, Prozac, and a lobotomy, is first to notice that the station is on. KFKD [K-Fucked] is on every single morning when I sit down at my desk.” —Anne Lamott

Most of us recognize the conflicting mutter of thoughts in the back of our mind as we write. Some are maybe more aware than others, but we all have it, and if you pay attention, you come to realize each voice has a different personality. I heard of one person who referred to this mutter of thoughts as the Committee. She said she pictured them to be the Seven Dwarves sitting around the boardroom table in Snow White’s cottage, arguing.

Maybe you remember the television series “Herman’s Head” in which the majority of the show took place in the main character’s mind. The various aspects of Herman's personality would discuss the event, replay realted memories, worry about possible outcomes, demand desires be met.

My committee changes. I think they must have a term limit. Sometimes my Muse resembles something along the lines of Stephen King’s boys in the basement. Sometimes my Muse is the Lily Tomlin operator character. One time when I was particularly frustrated, Debbie recommended I have a meeting with my committee. I recognized it as a good suggestion and when it was time to write that day I sat back for a few minutes to conjure up my committee. I was pretty surprised to see the cast of the Waltons filing in and sitting down.

Anne Lamott’s “committee” apparently broadcasts their board meetings on a radio station.

Whatever your committee is, it’s important to recognize each of these voices for what they are – fear, worry, boredom, optimism, pessimism, inspiration, and so on. Once you’ve recognized them, excuse them. Thank them for their input, ask them to leave. Then go on with your writing time. Just because all those voices have something to say doesn’t mean it’s constructive for your writing, or even particularly truthful.

Try this: Open your writing notebook and draw a line down the middle of the page. On one side, choose your writing prompt, set the timer for five minutes, and start writing. On the other side of the paper, take notes about what the committee members have to say as you write. When the time is up, read over the committee’s comments. Personify each voice. Have fun with it. Put a hat on one, give a cigar to another, let one wring her hands, let another one make sweeping generalizations and grandiose statements.

Once you have met and gotten to know each one, acknowledge their opinion and thank them for participating. Then ask everyone but the Muse to leave your writing space. One or two may be invited back in to help edit later, but for now, when you are freewriting, it should only be you and the Muse.

No comments: