Tuesday, May 8, 2012

So, How do you do what you do? by Judy Merrill Larsen

Um, I have no idea. Somedays I think it's like sausage or licorice . . . everyone loves it but no one wants to know how it's made. Other days it seems like utter magic. Poof. Who the heck knows. And then there are the days it feels like the easiest thing in the world and I can't believe I ever gnashed my teeth and considered finding a new career--perhaps pounding nails with my head, because, heck, that would be way easier.
Writer's Block? Sure. I have it. If I let myself. Writing Routines? Yup. You bet. Except when I don't. because here's the thing--it's all up to me. The only thing I can do is make the decision to write or to not write. I can call it block or routine or whatever. But it's really much more simple.

Tonight when I was at my power yoga class (Yes, I'll be sore tomorrow. I'm sore now.) the instructor reminded us that we needed to turn our minds off and just let our body do it. Our bodies could do it--it was our minds that were reminding us that we were tired or sore or wanted to quit. So just do it. Don't think.

 And for me, that's one of the hardest things to remember about writing. I have to let myself do it. Stop overthinking it (you know, all those voices that say it's not good enough, or not a big enough concept or whatever. Yeah. Those voices. To hell with 'em.). The words will come if I let them. Just this week I sat down with my manuscript. To revise. Again. I hadn't written much in a few months. And at first, it seemed so awkward. I couldn't find my voice or rhythm. Everything I wrote sucked. And it would have been really easy to close the laptop and walk away and throw another load of laundry in the washer. But, I refused to listen to the writer's block. I kept writing. I let me fingers type and turned off all the voices telling me I couldn't. And found my voice. It was kind of nice. And then, as the routine got comfortable--you know the routine--write every day. Find the time. Just do it.--all sorts of ideas came flying at me. It's like when I let my defenses down really cool things happen. I have a boffo idea for the next book. And it utterly terrifies me, but right now I also think it's the book I was born to write. I just have to make sure I don't let any of those naysaying voices in. Because those guys are just stupid.

What voices hold you back? And how do you shut them up? Me? I stick my fingers in my ears and refuse to listen.

I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 19-27), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook. My first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS was published in 2006. 


  1. Love this, Judy! I like the idea that we need to turn off our brains and just DO! I'm going to try that today.

    1. Great, Brenda . . . hope it works as well for you as it does for me.

  2. Go for it, Judy! Aren't new ideas grand?

  3. Love the licorice or sausage analogy!

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