Today's prompt is simply, "I remember how much I didn't used to like……."
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Today really notice what stirs your appetite. Is it smell? Is it sight? Is it thought?
Capture those observations on the page throughout your day. Choose to be inspired by them. Allow them to teach you.
In our next to last day here at "And Now You Write," we focus on inspiration, using the sense of taste as both a metaphor and a means to engage our muse. One of my favorite composers, Igor Stravinsky, said "Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning."
What do these words mean to you?
"Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning."
In other words, you will find inspiration by starting to work even when you are not inspired. You will create inspiration by taking action. For a writer, that means coming to the page and writing something, anything – one word – one sentence – one paragraph – one page – and it is the very act of writing itself which will bring about the shift of energy into a space of pure inspiration.
Mr. Stravinsky knew this concept intimately. He was not only successful as an artist, he was also a financial success. He received well-paying commissions for his work and was an astute businessman. He also understood how to use discipline as a supportive tool. He practiced composing as he said 'everyday, regularly, like a man with banking hours.'
His use of practice to inspire his work created a thriving career which continued well into his seventies and eighties when he was still touring conducting his rich and intense late works.
This is not unique to Igor Stravinsky, it applies to you as well.
Your momentum will become your inspiration.
We are seeing this manifest: live-and-in-the-flesh right in our midst. You might have noticed a shift in your writing appetite or in your writing productivity.
Just this morning I received an email from a young neighbor of mine. He actually lives in the house where my "Coaching Tree" lives: an old, stately tree that I have gazed at while teaching and coaching for many, many years. This young neighbor asked me, "How do I motivate myself for NaNoWriMo? I just can't seem to get the words down? What do you do?"
Learn and embrace this principle of hitting the page and adding words to the page as a writing practice will allow you to become a far more productive writer. Just write, even gobbledy gook.
You may even give yourself some prompts about gobbledy gook. Here are a couple:
When I write a page of gobbledy gook, it looks like...
When I devote myself to writing - even gobbledy gook - I remember....
When I was a kid and got a paper back with red marks all over it, I got sick to my stomach. What would have happened if I took those red marks and made the supposed "bad writing" into "really bad writing?" Just for fun, I am going to WRITE BADLY about my summer vacation....(or trip to the fair, or afternoon apple picking....)
You may even make art from writing badly. It is possible!
In my own life I found when I first started a writing practice I was more creative in other areas. I found I had a developing an appetite for painting and decorating.
You might be thinking, "Now matter how good this sounds in theory, it just doesn't sound like `the thing' for me. I can't imagine having an intense practice. I don't want to have to do anything else in my life, I am already stretched beyond belief!"
First, wipe out that "hafta" belief energy. Remember, we don't even consider "haftas" here. Everything is simply, "Hey – I guess I will experiment with this..." or "Y'know, that item really doesn't inspire me. Sorry – I choose not to right now."
Second, remember for a moment back to when you were a child and a new food was introduced to you and you just didn't want to eat it. It didn't appeal to you in any way.
It didn't smell good, it didn't look good, it didn't feel good on your tongue or against the roof of your mouth.
What do you remember from that experience?
If it was anything like my experiences, you were pretty much told "eat it or else" or "just a tiny bit – you need to eat at least a tiny bit." Or "take three bites and then you can leave the table."
I thought it was sheer torture. Electing to bring a forkful of detestable swiss chard into my mouth, for example, felt like I was inviting an invading force to lop my ear off. So dramatic for a child. Somehow we remember these moments with acute and ever growing accuracy.
Here is scientific reality for you: Taste drives appetite and also keeps us safe from poison. It is in our nature to enjoy the taste of sugar because we have an absolute requirement for carbohydrates (sugars etc.). We get cravings for salt because we must have sodium chloride (common salt) in our diet.
Bitter and sour cause aversive, avoidance reactions because most poisons are bitter (most bitter substances are bad for you - certainly in excess) and off food goes sour (acidic).
You didn't know about taste receptor cells when you were forced to eat that horrible pile of broccoli each night. You didn't know or even care to know that each taste bud has a pore that opens out to the surface of the tongue enabling molecules and ions taken into the mouth to reach the receptor cells.
None of that mattered.
You just knew you didn't like it.
When I was a child, the thought of drinking coffee repulsed me. I had no idea how adults could like coffee so much. How on Earth could my mother and Mrs. Elder even think of bringing coffee in a thermos to our outings to Terrace Lake in the summer?
I enjoyed the scent of coffee, and coffee ice cream was tolerable if there was no chocolate available, but the steaming hot stuff in mugs they savored as they met in one another's kitchens in the afternoon?
No thank you.
Once a friend's mother insisted I drink some and she doused it with milk and sugar – I literally gagged into the cup.
This was a definite, strong aversion.
Fast forward several years to sophomore year in college. I was very aware of my appearance at this point and was constantly watching my weight. I wanted to be able to have something warm to drink besides
I started practicing drinking coffee and found that I actually liked it. Plain, no sugar, no cream just coffee: preferably bold – I still do not like weak coffee at all. It gets poured right into the sink if it is too weak.
I love flavorful, rich coffee. I have even written poetry about coffee.
Yes, I have developed an appetite for coffee.
And I love broccoli. I have been known to sit and eat a plate of just broccoli. No butter, no cheese just a pinch of salt.
When I was a child, the very thought of that was repugnant.
My tastes shifted with maturity.
Which of your tastes have changed?
What do you have an appetite for now which you didn't like at all in the past?
Prepare to write:
Remember a time in your life when you didn't like the taste of something which you now find quite appealing. You may use a food or a drink or you may choose an activity.
Before we write, jot several difference possible writing topics.
For me, I might have included broccolli and coffee and getting up early.
If you use a food choice, fill your writing with taste and sensory imagery.
What did that food feel like in your mouth – what was its texture?
Where were you when you attempted to eat it? What did people say to you when you let it be known you didn't like this food?
If time allows, begin to write the later experience – of developing an appetite for the food or the experience. Think of how many times I write poetry about sunrise. If you had told me when I was fifteen I would love being awake for the sunrise, I would have thought you were crazy. Now, I just settle into loving (and writing) the sunrise.
Your prompt is simply, "I remember how much I didn't used to like……."
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