Writing without filters
Not too long ago, I copped to having a bout of writer’s block—which makes it sound like a cold or virus, something you can get rid of with bed rest and vitamin C, and I suppose it sort of is in a way. Now, I’ve had plenty of orange juice, but not so much in the way of sleep, so that block still seems to be hanging on, but I can move around it.
One of the ways that seems to work is introducing a random element. A concept that, whenever it comes up, always makes me think of that passage in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where Ford and Arthur are stranded on prehistoric Earth and they hit upon the idea of pulling the great question of Life, the Universe, and Everything out of Arthur’s brain by having him pull letters out of a Scrabble bag. To that end, I said yes to participating in a pair of events where I write poetry on demand. One of the events is done and dusted, and not having done anything quite like it, it was intimidating and exhilarating all at once. It was First Friday out on Roosevelt Row, and I was a writing machine. No time to edit, no time to filter. I asked the person making the demand a few questions, jotted down some notes, and off I went—free-associating like a motherfucker.
I don’t think I’d say writing like this completely removed the block, but I was able to at least work around it and write some things that people were happy with and I thought were pretty decent for being on the spot. If you’re interested, I’ll be doing it again down at the Phoenix Changing Hands location for Independent Bookstore Day on April 28th. Noon to 3 pm I think.
Another thing I started doing to get around my writer’s block is storytelling. I’m okay at it, and I think I’m getting better, but my guest for this edition of Limited Engagement, Stina Sieg, is a great storyteller. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her tell stories at Dan Hull’s monthly Storyline Slam, and she’s fantastic. Not to mention she’s one of the team of journalists on KJZZ who make my daily commute to and from work bearable.