Have you ever sat staring at blank page or computer screen not knowing what to write? Or are you like me and when you get intimidated you simply find ways to avoid your physical writing space, so the blank page won’t stare at you. (Stupid judging blank page. Ha, my vegetable drawer needs cleaning, and if my soups aren’t in alphabetical order then I really don’t have time to write…right?)
State of mind is critical to my writing process. Sometimes the writing feeling comes over me and I just have to sit down and create. (Thank you gods of writing wherever you are!) But when that doesn’t happen I have to get myself prepared. I make a place inside myself for me to write. How? Well first I clear my mind of all the voices telling me: “You can’t do this.” “No one will read it anyway.” “Don’t you have something more important to do?” And I replace those voices with a firm inner voice of my own. “This makes you happy.” Then I try to forget where I am. I am no longer in my living room or a coffee shop, I’m in a special place where the only thing that matter is my writing. (I fight against feeling selfish every time.)
When I get together with my writing group we share a meditation before writing. I won’t relate the whole thing, but in short we do some deep breathing, send messages to ourselves that the time before us is for writing and that we should be open to creativity. Then we each take a moment to imagine that we are in a special place for writing, where creativity flows and nothing else matters. My own personal space is on a large rock in a river. The rock is warm and shaped perfectly for my body to sit and write. The river is surrounded by a deep forest far away from any of life’s problems.
I think I’ll take a trip right now.
Symbols are powerful. They can inspire, direct, identify and suggest meaning. In writing they can be used to identify something about a character. For example we would expect different behaviors from a character wearing a delicate cross than from one with a tattoo of a peace sign, though to some they can carry similar meanings. Symbols can also be used as tools of foreshadowing. Choose a symbol and brainstorm about that symbol’s meaning. Would it mean that same thing to everyone, or could its meaning change with the perspective of the viewer. Now give that symbol to a character and spend twenty minutes exploring your character’s relationship to that symbol.
If you need help getting started, consider all the different ways a symbol could be important to someone. Is it a cherished memory? Is it an obsession? Does it represent faith? Does it tell the world something about them (like a super hero?). Does the image haunt them? Free your imagination and welcome symbols into your writing.
NB. Symbols are all around us. If you are having a hard time finding a symbol to write about broaden you definition. Companies make use of them in their logos. Tattoo artist can tell you the deeper meaning of almost any image, and ancient cultures have prescribed meaning to animals and shapes since we began painting images on cave walls.