#TellHisStory Featured Writer: Lyla Lindquist
During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight to link up your God Story by clicking here.)
And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to a great writer and very dear friend, Lyla Lindquist.
I suppose I could just start by lying on the floor.
I’ve done that, you know. Left the desk, got down flat on my back on the floor in my office, and stared at the ceiling. I went back to my chair and wrote the words, “Lying on the floor is no way to write an article.”
For many of us, the thing that often puts us flat on our writing backs is simply beginning. We stare at the blank page or blinking cursor, immobilized for lack of the first word, when oftentimes if we would just write the first word — any first word — it would be like the little Dutch boy pulling his finger out of the dike. The words will trickle out, maybe even begin to rush.
An editor I work with is known to say, “Just begin.” Take hold of an action or image and just begin to put words on the page. For me, sometimes that’s beginning with 20 pushups, a roller skate, or a blue marble. Or, yes, lying on the floor.
Deadline looming and past my bedtime, I felt pretty foolish that night. But then I looked up and saw cobwebs and shadows playing the corner of the ceiling, sculpted from the harsh light of a single naked lightbulb. The cobwebs gave way to an old woman’s wispy white hair, the light sockets to her hollow eyes, and before long I had what I’d gone to the floor over: a few pages worth of words on the page and an article ready to publish.
Look around you. Do a few pushups. Lie on the floor. What do you see? Where will you begin?
Lyla Willingham Lindquist is a claims adjuster, helping people and insurance companies make sense of loss. When she’s not crunching numbers or scaling small buildings, you can find her at Tweetspeak Poetry, where she is an editor, or designing websites at The Willingham Enterprise.
YOUR TURN: So, let’s try it. Lyla instructs us: “Look around you. Do a few pushups. Lie on the floor. What do you see? Where will you begin?”
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Brilliantly said………..and a great reminder from your Editor. Thanks for featuring Lyla here, Jennifer. I am mulling her words over; may be doing push ups soon.
She is a wise one. Knew just when to tell me to do those pushups, and knew they would work. 🙂
Yes. I wrote a paragraph about leaning on my elbow like a nail ready for the blow of a hammer the other day while I was thinking. Just begin . . . sometimes that means start right where you are. Good advice Lyla.
Visualizing an image like that is another great way to get things flowing.
I have been stuck. And that very same editor helped me out. Good words here, Lyla. I may have to come a lay on your floor…
Yeah, she knows stuff. 🙂
A few weeks ago I decided that if I was ever going to start the writing project I feel God has planted in my heart, I was going to have to stop worrying about the “right” way to start and how to set it up , and just start writing. So, I just wrote…and then…I decided I don’t know what I’m doing…and discouraged myself before I barely got started. And I hate to say it, but I haven’t gone back to it since. I think it may be time to go back to paper and pen, instead of the computer…and lying on the floor sounds like a good idea too. 🙂
Yes, paper and pen can be the trick sometimes. I find much more freedom that way. I don’t worry about how it sounds quite as much because I’m not looking at the words as they form as I do against the computer screen, and I know when I go back to type it I will do the needed editing.
You might be interested in reading this Featured #TellHisStory by Glynn Young. He writes: “I learned accidentally that writing in longhand is the best thing I can do when I need to use emotion. The most emotional scenes in my two novels were first written in longhand. The first drafts of all the poetry I write are written in longhand.”
Here’s the link:
What an honor to have you here, Lyla. I’ve never tried push-ups or lying on the floor. But I have gone running.
Also — like you with your marble — I begin with specific objects: the long scratch on the kitchen table, a chipped tea cup, lilacs, or … a shiny butcher knife. <----- 🙂
It’s so fun to be here. It all started with a shiny butcher’s knife, didn’t it? 😉
But you know, starting with an image. That sounds like something a poet would do. 😉
I think I will try the push-ups. I need the exercise. I think I will get plenty of reps. 🙂 I don’t get on the floor but I do move from where I am to somewhere different. If the block is really bad, I write a letter. I never have “writing a letter block” so it’s a place to start.
Getting on the floor was actually what the character I was writing about had done, so it worked really well as a tool to change things up for me. The pushups were recommended by my editor late one night to get me out of a funk, and I still do them now when I’m stuck. It’s really not the pushups specifically, but the change. The action. Like the way you move to a different place. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Where will I begin after lying about on the floor?
WIth a broom and sweeping motions.
And next I’ll probably take an ibuprofen because it’s concrete I reckon my body will likely hurt.
Oh miss Lyla, have I told you lately that I miss our lipstick chimp hoopla? 😉