Step 1. Live. You must live life. My favorite writers have lived fully and intentionally themselves (Liz Gilbert) or in a world of their own making (Lewis Carroll). I, myself, will often say I am a feather in the wind. Being blown and tossed about experiencing things I could have never even imagined. Talking to people and hearing their stories. Meeting with angels and all the hosts of heaven right here on earth, I’ve lived a life of both my own and my own making. If not for living, the words would have no weight. They would float off the pages and fall into the sea never to be heard from again. If not for living, the words would taste like dirt on your tongue, dry and brittle. If not for living, the words would not elicit the fragments of the human experience we continually try to capture in language. Always falling short but never for a lack of trying and never discouraging the next effort. Tomorrow we live and we try again.
Step 2. Read. Fill yourself with the syntax, the metaphors, the alliteration and prose of those writers before you. Swirl Hemingway around in your mouth like aged scotch and swallow him whole feeling the burn all the way down. Breathe in Morrison and her sticky southern summers fragrant as honeysuckle growing near a clay-bottom river. Sit quietly with Dostoyevsky in your own pain entranced by how beautiful it feels to experience such sweet suffering. Contemplate with Gladwell, fly with Rowling, hid under your sheets with King, fight valiantly with Tolkien, just be with them. Allow them into your life and let them change you, mold you, mentor you, show you how to sit and be and leave all at the very same time.
Step 3. Take off your cool. It is making love. It can be done in the cover of night, with layers of dressing and safety precautions. However, the best love makers will tell you it is better nude and raw. With no hang ups. No insecurities. No thoughts of how you look or how you are viewed. No concern with judgment, fear, doubt, or cynicism at least not in the moment. In the moment you are in it. It is the most blissful spiritual energy exchange and you give yourself over to the moment. And yes, the climb is slow and agonizing, the climax is bliss, and the refractory period is torture as we wait to climb again. And we always climb again.
Step 4. Write. Write when you are overjoyed. Write when you are woeful. Write when you feel as though your life is in disarray and you’ve sunken to a place you will never find your way out of. Write when you dance on top of clouds, are drunk in love, and filled with purpose. Write in the morning before the sun peaks its head over the eastern sky. Write as the vast dark cradles the moon in its arms singing lullabies with the ocean tides. Write incessantly. Write as if it were your breath. Write as if it were your nourishment. Write for safety. Write to scare yourself. Write even when you don’t know what to write about. Write wordlessly. Write silently. Write every single day even if its only your name. Make it say something else. Make it say your story. Write your story in every word. Every day.
Step 5. Leave it. And at the end of the deep hurried breaths of a mind-altering writing session you will feel a calm. It will have taken out of you what it needed and your use at that moment will be done. Walk away. Put a period and sign your name. Let it be the you for right that moment and be okay with the fact that tomorrow you may hate it. I hope you don’t. I hope you understand that everything you write is a piece of you. It is proof that you have lived as you have in those moment. It is your fossil curled in amber protected as only time and space could protect. Let it be. Let it be. Let it be.
Step 6. Repeat.