Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Time is all we have

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Jul• 01•14

About twenty-five  years ago when I was in deep distress over a painful marriage, the need to leave it and a teenaged daughter who was enraged about my choices, I was desperate for answers, trying to figure out how I’d landed in such an unhealthy marriage. It was the late 80s and I went to therapy. A lot of therapy. I uncovered childhood traumas I hadn’t dealt with, confronted my low self esteem, and started building hope for a better future. It was a miserable era and I whined too much, drank too much, wallowed in self pity too much. I didn’t write a lot back then because I was too self absorbed. Of course, now I’m fully aware that all of us suffer at some time, some more than others,  but back then I was  using suffering as my identity. And that’s just plain pitiful.

During all this searching and wallowing I sought help from a woman who kept reminding me that people are timeless and limitless. Her words didn’t have much meaning back then, but  I’ve always clung to them and lately I’ve been rolling them around within. After all, July begins today which means we’re at the half-way mark for this year. Like me, are you struck by how fast time passes?  I mark the seasons through gardening and colors and the way the air feels on my skin, the light at dawn and dusk, the birds that visit. The seasons keep me grounded and engaged to this vast, spinning planet, but still they whiz past too quickly. bird-flying child drawing

Let’s bring this around to writing. Storytelling in all its forms is a timeless and ancient endeavor. As necessary to humans as air, fire, water. As precious as emeralds and songbirds. Writing is a beautiful way to spend a lifetime, another way to nurture our planet and fellow citizens.

But there comes the thorny issue of time. It seems there is never enough of it, especially in these golden summer months. All of us are pulled by other demands, from children to careers to aging parents. This means that hours we devote to writing need to be immersive, focused, and devotional. When you write you need to feel timeless and limitless, as if all that exists is you and the story.  With writing you need to enter a chamber, a place within where your stories live. Often connecting to these stories isn’t through conscious toil, as in ‘should I introduce my antagonist in this scene?’ Or through editing and revising which is done with the conscious mind–too many short sentences in a row, tighten the dialogue, punch up the action scenes.

Instead, your inner storyteller can be found in the dark, in the strata of the subconscious, or in the layers where dreams happen. We all have different ways of connecting with these layers, with achieving the marvelous flow that only happens when words pour out like lava. Until you have your writing practice nailed down or magical access to your subconscious,  start by focusing as tightly as possible. Handle the scene in front of you. If another idea for a scene swoops in, note it with a few words,  then gently, gently turn back to your scene, your sentence. Just stay there, allowing movies to play out, or characters to start chatting. Or follow your character, feeling what she feels. Noticing what she notices.  Just stay there.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart





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  1. gini says:

    i sent you a personal message on face book which you may never see but i did want to give you kudos for this great article – i randomly saw a post that was commented on by margie boule and looked at your facebook and found a couple things there that touched me.

    i am now following you – not stalking you – but following which is allowed.

    i am an elderly (68)widow who takes care of my 94 year old mom in vancouver and i shared the video of the man who feeds and shaves and loves people in his town because they need it.

    thank you for your writing – gini dinneen

    • jessicap says:

      Thanks so much for reading my blog. I so loved that video of that beautiful man and his beautiful heart. But then you’re doing angel work by caring for your mom. Hope to see you around Facebook more. Take care and thanks again, Jessica

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