Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Questions & Quotes: R U Present?

Are you really present when you are writing? I was at a yoga class today, thought I was present until I realized I was in a 2 hour class, not the 1 hour class. How present was I? Then I thought, how present am I in general. Am I present right now, while writing this, or am I off thinking about the dinner that needs to be made, and my child sick on the couch.

How present am I when I write? 

I've been going through my manuscript again because at my last workshop, a writer I respect said, "This chapter isn't like the other ones. I don't feel you in this one." At first, I was upset, and frustrated. I tried to come up with an excuse. I said, "The main character isn't emotional, so I'm trying to keep the action going." She called me out. She said that's not excuse. The main character isn't emotional on the outside, but she damn well better be emotional to the reader on the inside.

This was my yes moment! I got it. So I re-wrote the entire chapter and I didn't stop there. I've been checking in with each of my scenes. Was I, the writer, present during the writing of them? In some cases, yes, I was. I can feel my inner emotions. But in most cases, I stepped outside and wrote from a colder place. Maybe I was afraid of my emotions. Maybe I was thinking about picking the kids up from school. Whatever it was. It did not work on the page.

Now when I write, well, before I start. I do a little yoga. I breathe. I listen to my breath. I become as present as I can be before I type a single word. It's a battle. I am pulled away from my emotional writing to answer the phone, the door bell, feed the dog, pay a bill, answer an email, update Facebook, and so I must remind myself to be present. 

Just like my yoga practice, where I am constantly thinking of other things on the mat. Did I close all the door windows because it's now raining? Did I turn off that heater in my office? What time is it? Was I too mean to my husband this morning? Should I call my mom? I'm thirsty. My hair's in my face. What time is it? UGH. I have to hone my writing skill. I have to keep drawing my attention back to where it is most needed at that time. (BTW, while I was writing this last line, my youngest came in because my oldest won't pick up a pillow. My oldest won't pick it up because my youngest spit on it. See what I mean? Am I present or am I thinking about how to help them resolve this issue?)


When you next sit down to write. Breathe. Take a few moments before you start typing away to get to your present. Be in your character with your emotions wrapping around, and guiding them. And when that moment comes that snaps you out of your here and now, start over with the breath. Relax and be. 

QUOTE: "You don't build a bond without being present." ~ James Earl Jones

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