When I was earning my Master’s degree from the University of Missouri, one of my many writing classes required me to read and write from Julia Cameron’s Right to Write. I liked the book so much that I now require my creative writing students to read particular chapters and to respond to Cameron’s Initiation Tools, in other words, her writing prompts. Our last lesson covered mood and drama.
My students expect me to put forth as much effort as they do, so here I am. Writing about what else? Mood and drama. What can I say?
Well, for one, I can admit I’m guilty as charged.
Mood? Yes. My moods definitely affect my writing.
Drama. Ugg. I can’t stand it. But drama, nevertheless, affects my writing because it always affects my mood. I don’t want to write when there is drama in my life.
For the last two years my life has been an uphill journey similar to what one might find on slippery slope of a Scottish crag. I have always been pretty good at keeping my emotions tucked away. But eventually, a person has to face emotions head on. It’s normal, just not pleasant. And on the worst days, I don’t want to write.
Nay, let me rephrase that. I WANT to write, but I don’t feel like it. I’m not in the mood to write. How many times have you said that, comrades? Julia Cameron challenges her writers to write for ten minutes and then to check their moods.
Writing is kind of like exercising. Maybe writing releases endorphins as does exercise. But then again, so do crises and stress. Back in the day, I used to work with students who got a rush from meeting deadlines. We would stay late and work nonstop until we met deadline.
Not so much anymore. But I do remember what an adrenaline rush feels like.
Writing for me now, however, is more therapeutic and cathartic. It brings about a cleansing, purification. I can release whatever negative emotions I have onto the page, and I feel better. But first I have to get over my “mood.” And the drama.
Cameron says we need our own space to write so that we can shut the door to the world—and the drama—so we can focus on our writing.
Amen. Preach it, sister.
I used to have a closed door at my house, but I moved my writing station to the “music” room. I like the vibe that comes with being surrounded by guitars, a piano and drums. But the room is a thoroughfare to the upstairs and kitchen. And you know what that means. Boy/boys in. Boy/boys out. Lots of noise. Questions. Sometimes hugs. But I’m NEVER too busy for hugs.
Even my warthog Scottish Terrier creates a disturbance with her scratching and scavenging the cat’s food.
But Cameron says, “Keep the drama on the page.” Focus. Focus. Focus.
And then there are the characters in my life. I love me some protagonists. But antagonists? They don’t have to be in the room. They just have to be in my head. They may be relatives, friends, co-workers or acquaintances. It doesn’t matter. Whenever these antagonists antagonize me to the point that I can’t write, it’s time to take a tip from Cameron.
“Keep the drama on the page.” Cameron says personal drama is “creative poison.”
Focus. Focus. And more focus. And three simple words for whoever is driving me nuts—leave me alone.
We have the choice to let other people’s negativity into our life. We must close the door, if not literally, metaphorically, and keep the drama on the page (not in our heads).
Cameron also suggests we write a list of 100 things we love, and every time we feel stressed we pull this list from our pocket and read it. When we do, we’ll settle down in our spirits and think about our blessings instead of the negatives. I won’t indulge myself with 100 on this blog, but I will give you 10 if you will give me 10.
TEN THINGS I LOVE
- My guitars
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Coffee shops
Feeling stressed? Want to keep the drama on the page and out of your life? Take a moment and write down ten things you love.