5 not-so-easy ways to make magic in your writing

by Mary Sojourner

[Feature image: photophilde]

…That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
And what people wanted to happen could
happen — all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That’s the way it was.

—Jerome Rothenberg, ed.
Shaking the Pumpkin: traditional poetry of the Indian North Americans

1. Stop: trying so hard, not trying, trying at all (it’s the opposite of doing). Stop: running so fast. Stop: believing that your writing is somwhere down the road, in Brazil, in Botswana, in Nepal, in Mongolia – it’s in Cleveland, in Philly, in Bloomfield, New Mexico, in your backyard.

2. Write twenty minutes about what happens when you stop. Don’t go on to the next suggestion til you’ve worked with this step. (Writing, despite what too many believe, is work. Hard work.)

3. Write for twenty minutes with this as the beginning: Magic is…

4. Write for twenty minutes beginning with this: I’m afraid of magic…

5. While readers love lists and lists can be fun, temper your list articles with longer, more complex pieces. Travel writing is not always about lists. Travel writing is always about the sensual. Lists are the opposite of sensual. Try reading a list out loud as though you were using it to seduce a magician. Never happen! (Except, of course, this list.)