What is Moo of Writing? It’s a method of beckoning the muse that works. Best of all, new scientific research confirms connections between relaxation and creativity. Topics for a handbook, Moo of Writing: How to Milk your Potential, burst into my consciousness years ago on a road trip. I created a first draft, and my sister-in-law Cynthia Morgan DeKett drew delightful cartoon cows to illustrate the concept. Now that I’ve retired from a job as a newspaper reporter, I’ve completed the manuscript and am looking for an agent and publisher. Meanwhile, writers who’ve read the manuscript and thoughtfully advised me on improvements, also have been clamoring for it in their hands. I hope you find this article on a few of its concepts helpful to your writing practice. Please register on our site if you haven’t already and comment in the space at the end of the article. Please share how you use relaxation to tap into creativity. Would you like to see the 100-page handbook in print? Thank you and happy writing! Here it is: what is moo of writing?
I blog and write columns about writing and facilitate writing workshops. I’ve been polishing my handbook, Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential, for months. The whole schmear sort of takes on a life of its own. It’s as if advice about the craft becomes what I do rather than actually writing. I’m in two critique groups, but they’ve already critiqued my handbook chapter by chapter; I haven’t brought them anything new. An agent query letter and a book proposal squirm around in my brain trying to materialize, irritating me.
So, it is with delight when I rediscover that Moo of Writing actually works.
The back of my mind carries a goal to write more poems for a collection, “Black Dirt Days,” about life on an Iowa farm where I grew up. But I was just moodling on a warm, sunny morning this week, when I hit the track for my walk. A man on a big riding mower was cutting the old football field in the center. First, I noticed the roar of the machine. It reminded me of noisy machines on the farm. Almost simultaneously, the smell of grass tickled my nose. It’s quite similar to the smell of alfalfa, which carried me on its wings straight back to hay-making time when I was a kid. As I walked, I heard a new poem in my head, line by line. I kept walking, and when I was finished, drove home, not listening to the radio, not listening to a phone message, not pouring cereal into a bowl. Instead, heading for my laptop and getting it down.
Wow! Moo of Writing really works, I thought.
Important to moodle, to get some fresh air and exercise, to let the mind lie fallow and not “try” to write. The words are there. They will come.
Have you moodled creatively? Would you like to? Please register on our site and comment. We’d love to hear from you, and we promise not to share your email address.
Silly title of this entry aside, I want to blog today about writing when you feel blue, when you’re down. It’s “when I’m weary of considerations;” it’s when “one eye is weeping/From a twig’s having lashed across it open,” as Robert Frost so brilliantly writes in his poem, “Birches.”
Last week, I wrote that when you free your creative process you will delight in the debut of stories you’ll find hidden inside.
Your stories will delight, but they may not all be happy. At times, pain or grief will surface. When that happens, should you cast those stories out because they risk bringing somebody down with you? I think not. I can’t tell you how many times Frost’s poem has brought me comfort. Frost balances the poem with the fun and risk of swinging on birches and with his choice to live. But it’s his five lines expressing the down-and-out feelings we’ve all had that I remember the best.
Consider the tenderness in Theodore Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane,” a student of his who was killed by a fall from her horse. He speaks of her: “the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;/ and her quick look, the sidelong pickerel smile.”
Contemporary poet J. Stephen Rhodes shares inspired work in his book of poems, The Time I Didn’t Know What To Do Next. Some of his poems address his daughter’s suicide. I was honored to share a podium with him at a reading in Greenville, South Carolina. His work expressed the hard edge of grief tempered by grace.
I grappled for words when we laid to rest a grandbaby who never had a chance at life. It was a bitter winter’s day, and our hearts felt as cold as the sleet stinging the open grave. Some time later words came to me in the form of a poem I wrote, “Digging for Mercy,” published by The Petigru Review. I share the last stanza of that poem with you here:
Grace, grant us wisdom
to wrench open our hearts
lest mercy meet a closed door.
Brenda Ueland, a 20th-century writing guru, said, “Writing is not a performance but a generosity.”
I agree. When you include grief or pain in what you share with others, you may be giving expression to something that another person cannot. You may be giving voice to pain. And that can be healing.
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