An Expressive Outlet

Create Challenge Guest Post Day has made Wednesdays my 2016 favorite day of the week! As a writer, there is so much about today’s post that resonates with me: the desire/need to release words into the world; the joy in the process and relief at its end; the writing-editing tension; and procrastination, because laundry. When we attended church together, the sight of Liz made my heart happy – she smiled, encouraged, believed better about others than they felt in the moment. She feels it, and so I’m confident she would tell you, too: Just Create!

Create Challenge Guest Post #6 – Liz MesenbringLMsky

I’m most creative in my writing and photography. They both provide an expressive outlet for me to capture an experience that resonates within me, or share a message, whether assigned or initiated from a simple desire to just write. In comparing photography with writing, I realize I take pictures in gratitude or awe of a scene, moment or person. In writing, I feel a sense of responsibility to clear back the extraneous words in my mind and find the essence of a thought, experience or moment. Photography is about what’s around me, on the outside, apart from me. Writing deals with what’s within.

I’ve written on a variety of topics and for a variety of projects, including ad copy for The San Antonio Express-News; animated character dialogue for LeapFrog; a Master’s thesis on education and the role of technology; resumes for myself and others; personal statements for private school applications; essays; and most recently, sketch comedy.

Regardless of the audience, it’s all in fun. I enjoy the process of organizing and fine-tuning a thought, feeling, opinion; pondering a memory; even getting a glimpse of what I might like to try or do, or where I might allow myself to be led in the future.LMbeach

I write when I feel a nagging need to hold a pen and scribble it across a notepad, as fast as it wants until my fingers intuitively release it. Sometimes I speed my fingers along a keyboard as words flow from me onto the big Apple screen.

I write until I’m done, satisfied (or relieved) to have released whatever story, memory, notes, whatever it is trumpeting in my mind or heart. It feels much like having been thirsty and knowing when I’m satiated and no longer in need of water.

I write trying not to edit, just like life when fun moments, like a belly laugh, are spontaneous. My writing teacher Amy said all writing should be considered a first draft; any intention, if it exists, should be allowed to move aside and the real story permitted to take center stage by the second or third draft. I try to allow fearlessness and honesty to guide my editing process, deleting the unnecessary or superfluous in order to spotlight the message at heart.

Too often I procrastinate writing, letting laundry, dog walking, dinner prep or the call of a more financially lucrative job search take precedence. Sometimes I feel more accomplished with a stack of clean sheets put away in the closet, warm tidy towels hanging in the bathroom, or the inviting way a freshly vacuumed carpet beckons for a walk down the hall. It’s a challenge when family members offer greater appreciation for a clean bathroom and a piping hot dinner than a two-page entry on a blog or humorous sketch in a black and white composition book.LMtrees

For me writing is like blending ingredients (situations and words) to create something I can’t completely envision from inception. I imagine similarities with cooking, painting, or sewing, all things I don’t do or enjoy as much as writing. I’d rather write and edit than prepare an intricate meal with the necessary steps of measuring, chopping, monitoring temperatures and timing, stirring… It all leaves me feeling drained. Instead, the writing process feels relaxing, refreshing, as I release the swirling thoughts and ideas in my mind to magically come together into a more orderly, understandable and relatable piece of reading. I appreciate the entire process of a written project coming to life, like the unfolding of a colorful banner.

My latest creative endeavor is sketch comedy. I sort of stumbled into it but have discovered that it is incredibly satisfying to fit humorous life observations and experiences into a new-to-me writing structure. I like the challenge of being ultra-specific with story, details, and word choice. It’s rewarding to hear others laugh after I’ve recreated a mundane activity – ordering a pizza, renewing a driver’s license, or shopping for groceries – into an amusing scene, and have a team of actors and production crew be excited to bring an entertaining sketch to life.

Over the years I may have refrained from certain stories, perhaps because I didn’t want to face a truth, accept a reality, expose a vulnerability. Words and stories can be judged or misunderstood, and sharing a piece of writing can expose me to unintended hurts, opinions I prefer not to hear. However, not writing tends to isolate me from God and the spirit within me. When I make it a priority to write, excusing Writer’s Block to find another home, it’s like lowering a drawbridge so the light of the Holy Spirit can once again flow through me and onto the paper. I’ve come to learn that what I share can also be an invitation to grow closer to others, to God, and even myself.

LMesenbring

 

Liz is currently working on a variety of writing projects ranging from sketch comedy scenes to developing a television pilot. When not tinkering away at perfect word choice, she can be found walking a dog, feeding the birds, or working on mastering the fine art of parenting a teenage daughter.

Which Way Do I Go?

writingCalling all creatives!

I have a serious question to ask:

What do you do when you’ve lost your mojo? When you’ve gotten out of sync with your own rhythm, lost your own groove?

I’m part-way through a project I’m pretty excited about. Well, I’m part-way through the first part, but that’s something, isn’t it? It’s a beginning, and there could be no middle or ending without it. I put off the beginning, the starting of said project, for far too long (read: years!) because it felt too big, too scary, too TOO. You know?

But then I began and I had to hurry-up buckle-up because ZOOM off we went. Until we hit a wall. And by we I mean I hit a wall, and it hurt.

I’ve tried outlining, free writing, and slamming shut my laptop.
I’ve tried deep breathing, praying, and taking a walk.
I’ve tried sleeping on it. I’ve tried time with the loved ones.
I’ve tried editing. I’ve tried moving on to the next section.

And right now, it’s flat-out making me down-right meshugganah.

I could blame it on work. Darn that still needing a paycheck…

I could blame it on family. What do you mean the kids are hungry, again? They still have dishes everywhere from the last time they ate, which might have been an interminable fifteen minutes ago. I had four blissful days of solitude while they went camping and, remarkably, the house kept itself clean! Dishes jumped into the dishwasher, counters remained uncluttered, and clothes made it into either a closet or a hamper. And then three dirty guys returned with bags overflowing with stinky clothes and gear and, while I am most happy to have my roost full, it has become more difficult to find a peaceful, uncluttered corner in which to concentrate.

I could absolutely blame it on the snake. Despite his emphatic promises that it would never, ever happen, Teen let a snake get loose in the family room. Distracted by the video gaming system he just bought from his friend, he forgot he had his newest, smallest, most curious snake on his lap. She slithered away, and he suspected she’d crawled into the teensiest hole in our leather couch. Next thing I know the couch is on its back while Guy and Teen begin taking it apart from underneath. Feeling like I couldn’t breathe, I grabbed the grocery list and dashed out the door. And then hit up our local TJ Maxx, because I was not going home until I got the all-clear.

They found Snake in the printer across the room and Teen has promised to be more careful. Clearly, snakes and video games don’t mix. And I have three lovely new blouses, so that’s something.

But blame won’t resolve the issue. I’ve read the quotes:

Every-writer-I-know-hasperfectionWriting_Quote_298

And how about this beauty?

Writing_Quote_20

So my question: If you regularly pursue creativity, what do you do to unstick yourself when you get stuck?

I’d really like to know.