Deb Vanasse | The Grounded Writer

These are stressful times. More than ever, we creative types need grounding.

By the dictionary, being grounded results in balance and stability. But I think of it more in terms of process, connecting with whatever it is that helps me to be in the moment when I write.

Author John Straley talks of warming up to writing like a slow engine, chug-chug-chug. Grounding jumpstarts your writing. It ushers you into a state in which distractions are less likely to nab your attention. It helps you stay focused and in the flow.

Some writers ground themselves with journaling, others with reading. I’ve done both, but last year Straley’s enthusiasm about haiku as a grounding technique—my term, not his—took hold in me. Each day, before jumping into my work-in-progress, I draft one haiku.

I use the Straley method. Well, not a real method, really—more just some simple points he shares. Haiku usually have something to do with nature. The language is simple. They often follow the five-seven-five syllable formula, but they don’t have to. Straley’s in the “don’t have to” camp. I like the constraints of the 5-7-5 form—they make it easier somehow.

Straley says he writes haiku in order to feel he’s fully living. I think of that whenever I’m outside—how I want to be fully alive.  I notice things I wouldn’t otherwise. I’m in the moment. Images stick, and I’m never at a loss for what the next haiku will be.

After my haiku, I do a little meditation. (Meditation and yoga are great for grounding too.) Then I write. When I get tired of sitting, I stand, using an inexpensive standing desk. It’s amazing how just having your feet planted on the ground makes you feel grounded.

Next I want to rig up an outdoor standing desk, so I can ground myself writing barefoot in the grass.

The author of seventeen books with six different publishers, Deb Vanasse admits to not being especially focused when it comes to genre. Among her most recent works are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds; and the “deeply researched and richly imagined” biography  Wealth Woman. After thirty-six years in Alaska, she doesn’t mean to gloat, but writing barefoot in the grass is a legitimate year-round option where she now lives, on the north coast of Oregon, where she continues to write while doing freelance editing, coaching, and writing instruction. She suggests you read Straley’s haiku, published by Shorefast Editions.



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