It's true: I'm writing a book about Boys for Pele for the amazing 33 1/3 series that Continuum Press publishes. How much fun is that? So fun.
I hate it when people (especially women) roll their eyes at that album, saying, "Oh god I loved Little Earthquakes but Pele is so indulgent." If that's you and I'm offending you, sorry! Come to a writing class, plug into your intuitive brain, and then listen to it again and see whatcha think. I think that response has everything to do with blocking out the intuition. If you hate it for other reasons, let me know, however--always open to things I haven't heard a million times over.
I am also swimming in my own right brain at the moment--two more books well underway that are just sort of showing up fully formed, channeled almost.
I have to start each day listening to Public Enemy and Hay House radio just to keep a handle on these two books.
They are the total badasses I have been waiting for--all the stuff I've done with Grace, the writing classes, the intuitive and writing coaching, my own writing, being a touch of the Omar Little in the current weirdo state of publishing: it's all adding up to these books. More soon!
Hey everybody--please come hang out with us tonight for our first series in DIRTY SPRINGTIME curated by Anne Ishii.
7-9 pm, at Solas, 232 E. 9th St.
Molly Jong Fast and Tracy Quan.
See you there---xxooE
Hey everybody. Part of why I haven't been blogging is that I have a weekly newsletter I send to my students. I'm going to start putting it up here each week. You can click below for the full thing.
Also, if you want to receive these as soon as I put them out, you can sign up here.
ELIZABETH'S WRITING REVOLUTION 2007, WEEK 10: including a writing exercise at the end--
People-pleasing, or, Turning Your Creativity Into Dogmeat
Okay, so I promised a newsletter about people pleasing. Ugh, it's painful to write about because it's so slippery and so at the core of most of my own struggles with writing and also with most of my students'. Over time, it really screws with your relationships as well.
That term, "people-pleasing," is smarmy enough to induce an immediate shut down in you, no? Yuck. I know there is a whole crew of you reading this who hate the word "moist" and I bet you hate "people-pleasing" just as much. It's one of those words I'd just as easily avoid having anything to do with. Sort of like margarine or Olestra or Hooters.
First off, I think we need to change the terminology to something like "turning-your-heart-and-your-face-into-dogmeat-by-ignoring-yourself." No? Well okay. I will keep working on that. But the word for this atrocious and tricky habit should incite alarm the same way "meth addiction" or "secret frosting binge" do.
For now, however, this word is what we've got to work with for the habit that is probably the core reason my classes are full of women. Guys do it sometimes too, but they aren't trained from birth to worry about how everyone perceives them the way women are--their emotional shut-down is a bit more allowing for them to go for what they actually want.
People pleasing is epidemic. It is so woven into us with body image, with the way we were at twelve trying to fit in with our friends, with the fact that bylines are still given to guy writers 80 percent of the time: how do we even know what we feel or what would really please us? This habit prevents us from ever really giving ourselves what would truly be nourishing.
"People-pleasing" is that thing where you don't worry about (or don't even know) what you feel and what you need to do to take care of yourself. Instead, what you prioritize is figuring out what the other person feels and what they want from you. Your primary motivation is to avoid offending or upsetting them.
Sound familiar? Do I hear a sigh and an "Oh, jeez"?
People pleasing can work really well for awhile--if you give someone everything they want, they tend to, oh, say, never leave you because they're so dependent on having you around. Who couldn't resist someone who intuits and anticipates your every need? But what happens is that over time your true self, your true voice, what you really want and what you really need, all remain buried and you never step up and shine like you are supposed to.
And then Dick Cheney does his little dance.
Over time, you become WAY more comfortable hiding yourself and your talents, which you doubt or might not even know exist. You feel scritchy and nervous and can't allow yourself to write all the wonderful things the world really needs you to be writing right now.
The nasty little voices that get in between you and that torturous blank page have everything in the world to do with people pleasing. People will think I'm dumb. This is too weird to write about. It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't sound like a real novel. It won't hold together. It's all over the place. Why should I be writing anyway? I probably won't get published anyway. Etc. etc. etc.
All of these nasty critical thoughts have to do with the worry that your perception, your intuition, is not enough in and of itself, that you need some outside approval to even be worthy of writing anything at all. Well, pardon mon francais but I am here to tell you: fuck that.
Transforming this crap has always been the crux of my classes: you turn your people-pleasing impulse of listening to the teacher into learning to trust your own intuition and voice. I can't have a bunch of people-pleasers running around can I? Hell no.
But you can work on it on your own as well. One way to do it is to listen to your right brain and do five to ten minutes a day of writing practice, as I keep reminding you to do. Also, any writing class that is not super toxic (be careful, there are a lot of those out there) will give you positive feedback on your work to some degree, and this can help you learn that what you perceive is worthy, that you're not nuts, talentless, etc. etc.
The quickest way--but it's a bit ouchy--to bust yourself on your people-pleasing is to fess up to your little lies. We all have them. They are a gorgeous entry point into figuring out what you really want. The exercise below is a great start.
Your characters people-please ALL the time too! Paying attention to how what you're saying is so far from what you're feeling makes you so much more adept at figuring out the people you're writing about.
YOUR CREATIVE ASSIGNMENT THIS WEEK:
1.Find one single moment today where you either kept your mouth shut or told a half-truth. Do this every day for a week.
2. Record what you said, and then record what you thought or felt but didn't say.
3. Now be honest: what were you afraid would happen if you said what you felt? Do you even know what you really felt?
4. Now, the fun part. Give your people pleasing to a character. Write for 10-15 minutes a scene where one of your characters is telling someone the exact same sort of lie.
5. And then: find a way, some circumstance, for your character to get busted in her little lie. Where she just can't avoid telling the truth. Where the emergency necessity of telling someone the truth in a pinch forces her to fess up.
Push her to the limit: always a good policy to find out what your characters are really about.
Thanks a bunch, and see you soon.
"Elizabeth Merrick makes writing fun again. She has this magical way of shooing off all the energy-sapping, nay-saying voices in your head and replacing them with voices of encouragement, appreciation, and I dare say, joy."
To apply for any of the courses listed please use our easy application form here.
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"Merrick has overturned the log of pop-culture-driven fare to uncover a riot of women's voices--writhing, colorful, and alive." — ELLE magazine
Hi everybody. Lots and lots of writing going on here, not so much with the blogging. My new book of nonfiction is gluing me to my desk now and I can't tear myself away, except to do a few intuitive consultations which I've been doing more and more of and are, to me, in the same realm as the writing.
Also, I managed to go to Ikea this morning. Which leads me to the question of the day:
Are there enough xanax-bourbon smoothies on the face of earth to make it worth going to the Elizabeth, NJ, Ikea on a Saturday?
xoxox love Elizabeth