Tag Archives: writing

The Power of Asking ‘Why?’

Last night I was sent an advance copy of an ebook a friend of mine is writing. It’s about writing. It’s about writing your life, writing your truth, whether anyone else will ever read it or not. I hope that once it’s finished I’ll get to share it with you here but until then…

As soon as I read the introduction I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to put pen to paper. I wanted to write. I was compelled to write.

The sensation feels similar to hunger. It gnaws at me. I need to feed the hole, but instead of in my stomach, this hole is in my brain. Like an itch deep in my head that I can only get to through the forming of words on a page. Typing them doesn’t help all that much.

This time of year always does it to me. There is something about Autumn. Today is the first day of rain in Vancouver this season and it has bucketed down for 24 hours straight. The constant drip and patter outside is the perfect soundtrack for mulling things over.

Maybe I romanticized Robert Frost writing in the New England Autumn a little too much…

Either way, today I had to write.  And not even knowing where to begin, just knowing I wanted to write, I posed the obvious question to myself since no obvious answer had ever presented itself to me before.

Why do I feel compelled to write?

I’m a musician. I’m not an author or a journalist or a lawyer or a screenwriter or even a particularly  prolific letter writer. I’m a terribly inconsistent blogger (like I said typing doesn’t really do it for me in the same way). Writing is somewhat archaic, somewhat useless, somewhat eclipsed by emails and texts and ‘magazine’ literature, but somewhat necessary. It won’t die. It’s just not necessarily respected like it should be. Is this all just a terrible hangover from school and new stationary in September? Why the itch? Why the hunger?

Why do I feel compelled to write?

I want to write because it feels good.

I want to write because I know how.

I want to write because writing leads to beautiful things like songs and poems.

I want to write because it’s good for my health. I feel like I burn more calories and get stretched out just by writing.

I want to write because I am full of opinions. Full.

I want to write because it has that old-fashioned allure. Fountain pen anyone?

I want to write because writers are respected, even bad ones. Especially good ones.

I want to write because I love messing around with words.

I want to write because carving out a cathedral of words in the English language means something – even if it’s just for yourself, in service of your day.

English was made for writers and artists. English was made to be messed with. There is a reason it’s the only language I speak fluently.

I own my command of the English language and when I sing words like

‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’

or read

‘…palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss…’

I feel good inside. I feel like new again.

Ah! Itch scratched!

Knowing why you feel compelled to make the art you do, create in the ways you love, gives you incredible power. Power to continue creating in the face of a culture that doesn’t rate these pursuits like it should.

Writing for writings sake? Not exactly something to put on your CV…or is it?!

The next round of Creative Scaffolding kicks off next week and if you want to explore why you feel compelled to create and what it means for you, this is the place.

This is the place where you see just how useful, just how of-service, just how vital, practical, bankable your urge to create is. As far as I’m concerned it’s make-or-break important! It’s the thing that gets you the job (Yes! Creatives troubleshoot, improvise, see new possibilities, collaborate…who wouldn’t want to hire that?) helps you raise your awesome kids, makes you an engaging person, makes you unique and whole and happy.

I really hope you’ll join me. You can find all the details here

What do you feel compelled to create? WHY?

I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below…Happy Writing!


How to Overcome the Fear of Unedited Poetry!

I fear unedited poetry like others fear the monster lurking under their beds.

Nothing freaks me out more than the thought of Poetry being ‘done’ in one go…mainly because nothing thrills me more than MESSING around with a poem after I’ve captured it. How dare you steal my thrill one-draft-wonders!

I pin down the gist of things with a few ham-fisted phrases and then gear up for the delicious act of peeling apart these glorified place-fillers until I hit on what I truly want to evoke. Ah! Blissful!

NaPoWriMo seriously squashes that one. All I can think about at the moment is the poem I published on the first day, cringing at the thought of its rough edges and day-dreaming about how I’d tweak it into shape. I should be thinking about my next offering but I’m distracted by the joys of noodling and fearful of published crap.


Dear Reader,

Please know that all my poems written and published through the month of November 2011 will be crap. I thank you for being so kind in your critiques and comments and bearing this fact in mind.

On the 1st of December 2011 I shall be removing ALL poems published in November so they be treated to some tender, loving drafting…even poems deserve some love at Christmas…I will re-publish them only when I feel they are properly risen and baked and those which flop in the middle may never be seen again!

Thank you for you understanding in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


Poet & Principle Firestarter at LLFs.

And with that said, now back to my regularly scheduled poeming…

Writing 101

Red Smith said…

Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at the blank sheet of paper until the drops of  blood form on your forehead.

I can vaguely relate right now. I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, having heard about it and missed the start date last year. I was so excited to get writing, have a target and be part of an exciting project.

So far I have written…nothing!

After all these years of reading Julia Cameron’s warnings on how hard it can be when it finally comes down to putting pen to paper, I thought I would be better prepared. I can’t even think of a freakin’ story line right now. The blank page/screen taunts me. 8 days into November and it’s not looking good.

So I am deciding to take a different tack. I still have absolutely no idea what I am going to write about but, in contrast to the last week, I am going to write anyway. I am going to write down anything and, when it is all said and done, I will have at least done that.If Julia has taught me anything it is that ‘just writing’ still counts as writing!

And my motto for this week…

Life is Fragile – Handle with Prayer.

E. C. McKenzie

Life is fragile. I am fragile. Mostly my creative-self is fragile…or terminally work shy, either way.

» Do you have any tips on spinning a plot from nothing? Or something?

» How do you motivate yourself to ‘create’ on deadline?

(p.s. both quotes taken from the amazing book of meditations on the virtues ‘Sacred Moments’ by Linda Kavelin Popov…was a gift from my mother when I went to college and I never leave Ireland without it!)

EXTRA EXTRA!! 9/11/10 – ‘An Art Full Life’ blog has just posted an article full of insightful quotes on the art of writing taken from Hemingway’s ‘A Movable Feast’. Talk about inspiring… – Hemingway on Writing http://www.anartfulllife.net/?p=152

8 Reasons I Haven’t Written in 2 weeks

or What I’ve Been Up To!

  1. Knitting – In particular the socks I spoke of in my last post. However the initial  obsession has waned some and I’m now struggling to turn my heels in a timely fashion. 
  2. Procrastination is contagious – and since the heels have been hanging over me unturned, this stalling seeps into all other parts of my creative doings. My blog post unpublished, or worse unwritten, hang over me, in particular…
  3. The ‘Barcelona’ post which I have been meaning to write since getting back from my holiday more than 3 weeks ago. It’s all the photos I need to go through and then upload. The thought just makes me want to…
  4. Watch TV – In particular ‘Jamie’s 30 minute meals’ (drool!), the new season of ‘Grand Designs’ (double drool!) and I have just seen an advert for a new series of ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Home’ starting in Novmber and destined to keep me glued to my couch, cup of tea in hand. TV is dangerous!
  5. Paying the Rent – Don’t worry! I haven’t sat on my arse for the last fortnight. I’ve also been working hard painting a room for my brilliant landlady, who has allowed me to work for my rent. DIY isn’t my natural forte but it was quite a fun way to spend a few days, up a ladder, radio on and paint in my hair.
  6. My Home is My Castle – I finally got my living room sorted out, though not everything is unpacked yet, but it’s feeling more my own now, cosy and cluttered with books and yarn. I’ve even got an entire dining room table with all my crafting stuff set out and a beautiful wide windowsill that I would love to make into a reading seat with squishy cushions. The bedroom is lacking however. It’s just not mine yet.
  7. Learning New Things – I’ve been really lucky this week to get a spinning lesson from my mate Siun who is an amazing spinner and fibre-obsessive! I plyed me some yarn, I carded me some fluffy stuff and IT WAS FUN!
  8. Dreaming of Possibilities – And I have been spending lots of my time day-dreaming of what my blog could become and researching online about how to build a successful blog and create a body of material you can be proud of. Basically I have quite a lot of free time right now (part of the unemployed masses) and I wonder what I could do with my blog. Make it a place for me to write more, publish knitting patterns, plug my music (shameless!), document my travels, explore all things creative and generally wax lyrical about what I enjoy in life. Is this too much for one blog? It’s hardly focused. So I sit around and mull it over and…procrastinate.
Hank the cat…contemplating the world and what to blog next!

Time to kick the procrastination and get working on the creating part me thinks. I plan to blog every day this week to get myself back on the bandwagon and by the end of this week I hope to have more of an idea of what I want to do with this blog. Is it just a glorified diary? Is it just a way of keeping friends and family up-to-date with my comings and goings? Or could it be more? There’s the question for the week.

Right! Off to turn another heel…

Writing on a Blustery Day…

Getting cosy in my little flat

It’s a blustery day here in South Down. I love the word ‘blustery’…ever since I read ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day’ and poor Piglet getting blown away. Anyway, today is mild but super windy. Perfect walking weather…or soaring through the sky like Mary Poppins, whichever suits best. So the DB and I were out in the park collecting conkers. Yup, autumn is officially here and seeing the leaves turn for the first time in two years is making me think of cosy evenings curled up with a good book, really getting my teeth into a tasty piece of literature.

Or even better and actually get involved writing some, like I always say I want to. I’m making plans to write as part of NaNoWriMoNational Novel Writing Month – which takes place every November. 30 days to write 150,000 words (roughly 175 pages), no editting or going back. Just getting your arse in the chair and writing everyday until you’ve fulfilled the word target. Daunting to say the least but I’m excited for it and at least I’ll know loads of other people are doing the same thing with me at the same time. I find a sense of community really motivating as opposed to the Robert Frost image of writing alone every evening in the depths of a New England winter. Would mind being as good at writing poetry as Robert Frost however…

Yesterday was National Poetry Day, celebrating the best of poetry across the UK, and it’s theme this year was HOME. As a songwriter I often write things that don’t work when sung but sing in their own right when spoken or read. I love reading poetry too…studying it for A-Level English Literature really openned my eyes to all contained so elegantly in such little dense packages. Basically I just love words, messing around with words!

So here is my contribution, a poem I wrote a few years ago about home…it’s no Frost but I hope you enjoy (please be kind with the ol’ criticism)

The Mechanics of Belonging
The Coin slips home,
Through a gap.
Neighbours turn,
Nudge the news along,
Weight the options,
Then open.