Sunday, May 27, 2012

About Doubt, by Molly Best Tinsley


Writers hear voices--a provocative sentence or two bubbling up in the mind’s ear; a created, or remembered, character beginning to speak autonomously.  These are gifts of the creative process to be cherished.  Then there are the other voices, the ones that chime in when we’re mustering the energy to get started on a project, or when the first burst of energy has been spent and we’re trying to figure out where to go next.  “Why bother?” these voices ask.  “You’re not a real writer.  That was a dumb idea.  You’ll never get it  to come out right.  What’s the point of going on?”
These doubts are the legacies of childhood, when parents and other adults defined who we were and decreed what we had to do.  Back then, writing meant navigating a tangle of rules—spelling, grammar, and “what the teacher wants.”  There is safety in all these obsolete limitations; they maintain the status quo.  But they have nothing to do with our creative abilities or the vitality of our writing.  We must laugh them off our mental stage, embrace the freedom, and forge on.
No one ever postpones or stops writing because of lack of talent or technical expertise.  The talent is always there to be tapped, and solutions abound for any technical writing problem.  There’s only one thing that can stop us from writing if we let it, and that is self-doubt.

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Molly Tinsley left the English faculty at the US Naval Academy to write full-time.  Her story collection Throwing Knives won the Oregon Book Award; her most recent release is the memoir Entering the Blue Stone.  Three years ago she donned the editor/publisher hat, co-founding the small press Fuze Publishing (www.fuzepublishing.com).  She facilitates the workshops, Crafting Lively Dialogue and The Second Draft.

For more information about the conference, visit http://www.willamettewriters.com/wwc/3/



The Other D Word

 by Molly Best Tinsley

Asked what they consider their greatest writing challenge, my workshop participants always cite discipline:  if inspiration doesn’t find its way to paper or disk, it must be due to a lack of discipline.
But try inverting this diagnosis:  what if the obstacle to writing is too much discipline?  Isn’t it discipline that compels us to do almost anything else instead:  mow the grass, organize some piece of household or office entropy, honor to-do lists, and tightly schedule our time?  And if we do manage to set aside all the discipline that facilitates our daily lives, we come up against the discipline we’ve learned to associate with writing:  correct spelling and grammar, topic sentences and thesis statements, strictly defined assignments, all of which squeeze the air right out of the creative process.
The next time you find yourself not writing, think about setting aside all the discipline that’s getting in the way.  Get comfortable with your favorite beverage, writing implement, clipboard, and allow yourself to waste time.  Daydream.  Accept whatever comes to mind—a memory, an image, a what if.  Record it in your messiest handwriting, on the diagonal, or sideways, across the lines.  Forget logical connections; don’t worry about filling in gaps.  Let yourself enter the undisciplined unknown.

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Molly Tinsley left the English faculty at the US Naval Academy to write full-time.  Her story collection Throwing Knives won the Oregon Book Award; her most recent release is the memoir Entering the Blue Stone.  Three years ago she donned the editor/publisher hat, co-founding the small press Fuze Publishing (www.fuzepublishing.com).  She facilitates the workshops, Crafting Lively Dialogue and The Second Draft.