Thursday, June 9, 2011

Does nail polish make you type faster?

I’m back from holiday, where I spent my time eating, drinking, and soaking up sun.  One thing I didn't do - I didn’t write a word on any of my projects. It wasn't my intention.  I took a notepad and pen, but only managed to note down a handful of recipes for some of the local dishes we ate.

Back home and sat in front of my computer, I’m trying to get right back into the flow of writing on my first novel. I’ve been trying to start all morning. Unenthusiastically pecking at the keyboard, I noticed how my nails - which had grown out over the holiday - were click-clacking on my keyboard, a sensation I find annoying and a hindrance.

On to the nail polish! If the offending long nails are clipped and filed, wouldn’t a shiny new coat of OPI polish make the hard working fingers a more attractive and delightful tool? Anything to put off starting on today’s scheduled two hours of writing. But why do I want to put it off? I’ve already missed a week of work.

There is this wall I have to break through, every time I sit down to write. The wall is made up of all of these elements that induce timorousness: self doubt, lack of experience, perfectionism, and a million and one writing do's and don't's.

A few weeks ago, a friend handed me a printed out Facebook note written by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes (of Women Who Run with the Wolves fame): “Dear Brave Souls: About Writing. There is No Right or Wrong Way, Only Your Way.” In it she writes about the creative impulse and stresses that we shouldn’t get so caught up in the criticism, judgement, should-do’s, and ought-to’s that we allow to stifle our creative voice.

I certainly do that and found myself nodding in agreement as I read through the article. There was something about the note that seemed to strip away a lot of the layers of garbage that we writers and would-be writers heap on this work, leaving bare the essential reason we strive to put pen to paper (or unpolished nails to keyboard): we yearn to tell a story.

I find that refreshingly basic and invigorating. I find it inspirational to step away from thinking about plot holes, grammar, the publishing merry-go-round,  and artistic angst - to think about the joy in telling a story.

Check it out, read the note. Did it resonate with you? What do you think?

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon.


  1. I think it's a brilliant statement by Dr. Estes.

    I will tell you this: the best thing I ever did for me as a writer (so far) is NaNoWriMo. The self-imposed pressure to get down a 50K word novel in a month forced me to stifle the little voice in my head that wanted me to get every word, every line, just exactly right from the get-go. It may not work for everyone, but it really freed me from my inner editor.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly on NaNo. That's what finally got me started again. Kill the internal editor and just write, write, write.