EVERY WEEK, I send out a writing tip and three soul-inviting prompts as inspiration for you to freewrite, either alone with your timer or in a gathering of writer friends. The resulting deep play opens up whole new landscapes of creative possibility for our writing and our lives. If you are new to this kind of writing practice, have a look at the freewriting principles. And to take your writing to the next level, check out the mentoring sessions I offer, which are helpful whether you are working on a book or just beginning to find your voice. more >
“I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do – the actual act of writing – turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”
—Anne Lamott, from Bird by Bird
Writing is a process of discovery, and our first attempts are usually incomplete and full of holes. This is natural when we are attempting to convey something that comes from an urge deeper than our surface self. The task can feel beyond us. In this case, it is helpful to remember that every piece of writing is necessarily incomplete — that is what compels us to write the next piece. And because of the partial quality of all written work, it is possible to find fault with everything ever written. No matter how skilled we are as writers, we will never be able to write well enough to get beyond the limits of our human perceptions, and that is perfectly okay. “Nothing would be done at all,” said John Henry Cardinal Newman, “if a man waited till he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.”
Thursdays, Dec 5, 2013 – Feb 20, 2014, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Catharine Brooke Anderson is a warm and soulful writer who was a regular participant in a soul writing group I did in Bali a couple of years ago. Now she’s offering a 12-week opportunity to experience a Writing from the Soul group for those in Berkeley, California. Here’s your chance to open your creative channels to deeper sources of inspiration and expand your ability to be authentic in front of others. $10-15 sliding scale. No one turned away for lack of funds. 10 person maximum. Interested? Email me and I will forward onto Catharine.
“If I dismiss the ordinary – waiting for the special, the extreme, the extraordinary to happen – I may just miss my life,” said Dani Shapiro. And you just may miss the richest source of writing as well. While writing seems to demand the drama of the extraordinary, this can be a trap, sending us to look for our concept of what is important rather than tuning into what is actually important. This is an invitation to look at the everyday with fresh eyes, open to the possibility that there is no such thing as ordinary.
What if your suffering is a valuable resource for creating something noble and fine? In Art as Therapy, Alain de Botton tells us how this can be so: “One of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for us is teach us how to suffer more successfully. We can see a great deal of artistic achievement as ‘sublimated’ sorrow on the part of the artist, and in turn, in its reception, on the part of the audience.… In art, sublimation refers to the psychological processes of transformation, in which base and unimpressive experiences are converted into something noble and fine – exactly what may happen when sorrow meets art.”
“No art ever came out of not risking your neck,” Eudora Welty wrote in her classic book, On Writing. Of course, all risks come at a cost, but it seems playing it safe comes at a higher cost, at least for a writer. Risk and experiment, says Welty, are actually “a considerable part of the joy of doing,” and that joy is the reason writers are willing to work hard in the first place. So next time you’re tempted to play it safe in your work, remember: if you want real juice in your life and writing, you’re better off taking a risk.