Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Does Writing Feel Like to You?

I always wonder what it feels like for other writers when they are in the actual process of putting thoughts or storylines down on paper or computer. Here’s why.

I’ve had many interesting experiences after finishing up a writing session. For instance, I often don’t remember the piece at all when I sit down to read it. Or I’ll realize, after the fact that I’ve written something that I dreamt about the night before.

During the process, I’ve more often than not, struggled until a certain rhythm takes over. Once, when I was screenwriting, I typed (on a real typewriter) for an hour or so and as I did I saw the story unfolding on the white wall behind the typewriter – actually saw it happening. I just wrote down what I saw. I called it writing “in the zone” like Joe Montana used to talk about some of his phenomenal football plays.

Now, since finding a certain voice, I can describe my creative state as true bliss. I told a friend recently that when I write it feels like my best friend is sitting beside me and I’m just putting down what she says. In other words, I feel outside myself but accompanied – and I feel strongly that this sense of an entity is what people call the muse. Additionally, it feels divine. Not to imply that my writing is divine, but the inspiration is beyond me somehow. I feel a part of things – the Universe – as the thoughts flow.

That’s what it feels like for me. But I’ve observed others who seem so disturbed by their gift, so determined to always get it right or wait until the right moment. I can remember feeling that way too, but wish for them that they would get to this place where writing is truly joyful.

One technique for getting there is something I learned quite a few years back. I call it dumping. Rather than trying to actually say anything, I just sit at the computer and let whatever pops into my head out through my fingers. At first it’s total tripe but then something magical happens. From the soup of meaningless drivel comes a nugget, no a kernel, of something that begins to grow all on its own. And before you know it, I’m writing. It may not be on the intended project, but usually when I switch to the project the feeling continues.

You might give dumping a try. In the meantime, I’d really love to hear you describe how you feel when you write.


  1. Sometimes I feel inspired, others I feel like I am playing chicken with a freight train.

    I am hot and cold. Some days it just flows. Other days I literally sit and stare at the screen and manage less than four sentences.

    Thanks for this post.


  2. I am at my happiest when I am writing, and honestly, find it difficult to pull myself away. I know some people try to write everyday, but I don't, because I know when I begin, I won't want to stop. I plan my writing time so I know I will have several uninterrupted hours and then I go 'into my zone' until I just can't hit keys any more.

  3. When I am writing a new novel, I'll try to write every day. Sometimes is hard work and I will struggle a lot. Sometimes I'm in a flow. Funny enough, it doesn't seem te make a difference how I feel about the writing, quality wise.

  4. Great feedback! I think it's so interesting how we all approach it. Thanks for commenting. My hope is that a writer who is struggling may connect with the way it is for one of us and push through to the next big moment.

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  6. I've just recently started writing fiction. In the beginning, I felt a little "crazy" when my characters would pull me away from household chores in order to write something - that apparently couldn't wait another minute... I write mostly on weekends because I work. My routine is Friday - edit; Saturday - day, write forward (painful, awful, brutal feeling). Hate Saturday days. Saturday night & Sunday - Awesome, fluid - words just come to (through) me. I love Sundays. I love writing.

  7. Howdy.

    I've never thought about this, good question. Although there are times when I feel like I'm writing a term paper, most of the time I become part of the action on the computer screen. Not like you; I don't see the events in front of me, more like I'm THERE while I'm writing it. I smell things, taste things, feel breezes on my cheek. I can hear the dialogue like it's in the room with me. Very strange, actually, but also astounding when it happens. My mind takes me wherever the action is. Pretty cool!