Posted by: victanguera | September 21, 2011

Trusting Myself

Because I learn in a different method than some (possibly most) people, I find learning hard to quantify. I run around trying to figure out “rules” to things such as how to write, but all I learn are rules. And, for me, it hinders expression.

When I started to dance tango six years ago, I knew nothing. Actually, I knew plenty about dance posture from a history of dance, but thought none of that applied to tango. And if you’d asked me what I knew, I’d have shrugged and said not much. Because once I’ve learned something (or more accurately, once something clicks for me), I just do it without thinking about the how or why.

For the first three years dancing, I spent forever thinking about things like how much to bend my knees (not at all in reality), or when and how to collect my feet. I’d wind up concentrating so hard on what I’d learned that I couldn’t even dance. At least not well.

Then I went to Buenos Aires. A few fellows were gracious enough to dance with me. But what made the most difference were intensive private lessons twice a week. Eduardo would dance with me, and his partner, Marissa, would analyze my footwork. She’d correct my feet, he’d correct my connection. There is something in that perfect milonguero embrace much like the zone I reach when writing–it’s like a disconnection from reality and everything goes but what you are doing. A place where “rules” cease to exist. All you know is what you are doing, how it feels, not how you should do it. It’s a hard thing to explain, but a thing I know when achieved.

For the last three years in my writing (ooh, is there something about that three year mark?), I’ve been thinking about my writing. Thinking about rules. Laying on instruction after instruction. And learning nothing. And doing less.

What I need to do is trust myself. Let go a little and fall into the embrace of writing. Because once you’ve had that connection, nothing else feels right.

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Responses

  1. I agree, on two fronts.

    1) The example of dancing is very true. I’ve never danced (in any serious way), but I was a professional musician for a while, and I always find a lot of parallels between playing music and writing (which always surprises writers who have never performed).

    2) To evoke a writing cliche, it sounds like you’ve been doing your writing and editing at the same time. I like to separate them as much as possible. When I write, I mostly use a pen, I don’t go back and edit. I don’t worry about passive voice or where the plot is going or filter words or how long the thing is going to be when it’s done. Then, later, I type it all into the computer (that’s the tedious part) and start to edit. Sometimes I print out what I have and write all over it and then go back to the computer.

    • Ooh, way too much writing while editing. And of course that stupid little voice in my head that says all my words suck won’t ever shut off.

  2. I would recommend writing by hand (with a pen on paper). That sometimes helps separate the writing from the (computer) editing.

    • Excellent idea, although for me it is the opposite. I write the best at the computer and edit the best with pen and pencil. And I’ve been doing most of my editing on the computer lately. Time to change that :}

      • I edit on paper, too, or I used to.

        I’d write on paper, type it into the computer, print it out, mark it up, make the edits on the computer, print it out again…

        The only change now is that I now sometimes use the Kindle instead of all those printouts. Now I only print out when I know I’m going to want to reorder scenes.


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