Writing About Writing

Chelsea Renee MAT
5 min readNov 17, 2023

And Mercury in Retrograde

Photo created by Misti Tait Snyder of author

Yes, Mercury is in retrograde. Yes, I did have to look up what that means. If a planet appears retrograde, it is supposed to influence humans on a metaphysical level. Writers, like many groups, are prone to believe that occurrences in the energy field deeply affect human behavior. And what does it matter anyway?

It matters on a fundamental level. The elusive intuitive process that writing breeds is difficult to label. And the human mind always wants to make sense of its world. This combination creates can create mysterious outcomes.

Indeed, there is something magical about writing that compels authors to return to the page over and over again. Of course, this magical subset also entices readers, but I wonder if the reader understands that writing has its own energy.

While the traditional greats may argue this proclamation, the demand for the written word that the advent of social media created circumvents early arguments in history.

Edgar Allan Poe believed that the writer must know how the story will end for the writer to complete an engaging composition (Amary, 2010). Ernest Hemingway agreed with Poe on this notion but added a step to the writer’s repertoire with the “theory of omission.”

Hemingway stated that a writer should know his characters so well that he would omit details to control how the text influences the reader. I boldly contend that both are untrue (Amary, 2010).

After working as a Writing Specialist for many years, I can confidently state that writing often manifests as separate from the writer’s consciousness.

What does this mean?

The writing finds you.

If I could tell a new writer anything, it would be to surrender oneself to whatever ideas surface on the page and dare to follow this train of thought and investigate where it leads. I have yet, in my practice, bear witness to any writer who created anything worthwhile exactly as proposed to the plan the writer initially develops.

Therefore, planning does not determine if one’s masterpiece will come to fruition. This is rarely the case. Instead, the writer becomes privy to the message of the writing like an artist being led by a sense of intuitive factors that graze the page independent of the writer’s experience.

For instance, in the tale of Michelangelo sculpting his Masterpiece David, Michelangelo answers a question from the Pope about how the genius behind his sculpture. “It is simple. I just remove everything that is not David” (Quotes About Michelangelo’s David, 2022).

The statue of David’s origins is known to preclude much secrecy. Some claim that Michelangelo worked in an open courtyard. When it rained, Michelangelo’s wax creation was submerged in water, and “as he worked, he would let the level of the water drop, and using different chisels, sculpted what he could see emerging” (Michelangelo Buonarotti).

Once again, a master artist analyzes the process of his own work and concludes that the statue unearthed itself from the confines of his chisel!

How To Write Effectively

Spinning a tale, or conveying a specific meaning in informational texts, may suggest that the writer determines the outcome. However, I dare say that the writer who can show flexibility on the page will surpass novice writers in ability, substance, and clarity.

I recommend outlining ideas that will be summarized before starting the first rough drafts. This process helps writers organize their thoughts and find purpose within the imaginative world of creativity.

Still, when one is ready to write, frustration abounds because it is almost impossible to write down the ideas one imagines effectively without letting go of some of the current plots and/or information one holds.

All writing is forsaken to the process of what the writing in itself desires to say. Yes, I am saying that the story writes itself. It would behoove any writer to get out of the current narrative and allow what unfolds to lay itself out as it will.

The crafty writer can insert transitions whenever needed to keep the low of writing in succinct terms that inlay the message the writing determines defines itself.

Therefore, this is what I suggest to clients:

· Explain to someone else what the writing is about. Speaking out loud about your ideas makes the content real and malleable.

· Be open to ideas that originate during this process.

· Let goes of absolutes because trying to write anything with the grandiose notion of exact perfection will create a piece that is, at best perfunctory, in nature and, at worst, a rattling of thoughts that have no takeaway.

· Through practice, the writer can begin to listen to the words that become significant to the plot. The use of a thesaurus is paramount in this situation as the thesaurus will denote many synonyms at the writer’s disposal. However, one will become aware that certain words hold a greater “charge” than others.

· Be hypervigilant about the ending. Most writers abhor describing the ending. They are done. They want to stop, and the ending finds the reader at an abrupt stop in thought and, subsequently, can make or break the piece's success.

· The formatting of the writing is as important as its content. One must change syntax, advocating for long sentences and then brevity in others to create a flow that mirrors how the human brain receives information in chunks and pieces alike.

· And most importantly, the writer must be willing to bleed on the page if the writing is to mean anything to its reader. The most heartfelt and harrowing aspect of great writing is the writer’s ability to expose one’s vulnerabilities on the page allowing the reader to be consumed by subtle clues of similarities that the reader finds in extraordinary writing.

Of course, many writers will argue that my notion of writing pertaining to its own unique energy is hogwash. And what does it matter anyway? As long as what needs to be written is published, the factors that support what is dislodged onto the page are not relevant.

I encourage every writer to decide what their writing means to them with great curiosity. Just like Hemingway and Poe, who superimpose ideas into their writing, a writer creates the improbable through the process of authenticity.

No matter what happens continue to write. Even when Mercury is in retrograde. :)

When you do not know what to write, write about not knowing what to say.

If you become stuck in writing, describe what is problematic and listen to yourself when the answers arise.

References

Ammary, S. (2010). Poe’s “theory of omission” and Hemingway’s “unity of effect”. The Edgar Allan Poe Review, 11(2), 53–63. https://doi.org/10.2307/41506412

Public Broadcasting Service. (n.d.). Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance . Renaissance . Michelangelo. PBS. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.pbs.org/empires/medici/renaissance/michelangelo.html#:~:text=Michelangelo%20created%20a%20wax%20model,half%20years%20Michelangelo%20toiled%20alone

Sayings, F. Q. &. (n.d.). Top 30 quotes about Michelangelo’s david: Famous quotes & sayings about Michelangelo’s david. Famous Quotes & Sayings. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://quotestats.com/topic/quotes-about-michelangelos-david/

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Chelsea Renee MAT

Everyday mortal, person, human, eccentric, unconventional, educated, and most importantly, open-minded.