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Awakening the Writer Within

October 27, 2018
1 Heart it! 7

Writing is a craft and a skill that with learning and practice and critical review gets better. But ultimately writing becomes effective when it presents a message that is both worth hearing and heard. Boiled down to its essence, in the words of Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal, writing should be ‘accessible and beneficial.’

Beyond that of course there are many types of writing.

There is a fictional prose, a novel or short story. Good fiction gets the reader into the story. It makes the reader believe that they are experiencing the plot and creates a personal connection with the characters.

There is research such as a history book, a book about a scientific topic, about current events, a biography. The point of those books is imparting knowledge and research yet the essence of being beneficial and accessible is important in this genre.

Then there is poetry, which can be described as simply presenting a thought, an image, an idea in words. It can be just a few lines such as in haiku, or it can lack all writing rules such as some poetry of  e e cummings. It can use tactics such as rhyme and meter. But like all writing the poetry will resonate if it is accessible and beneficial.

Accessibility may not always be easy with some prose and much poetry. If the reader is not used to poetry and certain types of poems the ‘language’ can seem foreign and the message not received. Like jazz for me, I just ‘don’t get it.’  But I am careful to not judge the poetry simply because the language may not be accessible to me at this time. Conversely writing can lack a message but can be liked simply because of its clever use of language.

As a would be writer I am not used to the concept of sitting down and typing or writing. How do I produce something every week for my Elephant Journal Writing Academy? What do I do? How do I start?

I am starting to set a daily time to write, and to keep my pen moving like Natalie Goldberg says in Writing Down the Bones. I practice it like I do my yoga or my swimming. Luckily my handwriting is indecipherable to me. I cannot read and judge what I put down on paper. Nor can I hold on to it. That does not help me. The act of practice is to get better, not to produce something.

I have also come to realize that the act of writing and creating something written are different. I keep reminding myself that creating something written requires me to have something helpful to communicate and to do so in an accessible manner.

So I try to separate the process or craft of writing with what I want to say.

Then when I have my message which I believe will not simply float but fly and find its flock then I choose the flavouring, the subject, the details.

I’ve often started with a description of a story and then found that my message may be lost or worse not received.

I’ll give you an example. I chose to write about the time I was on the beach in Rio for New Year’s Eve and waited in line to order a drink. It took the one bar tender a long time to make my drink which he made from scratch. I wondered why he hadn’t pre made drinks to be faster and make more money. Later in the week I saw him again make the same drink in the same way with only me in line. It did not matter to him whether he had a line or not. By observing the simple beauty of his ritual I learned that more efficient is not necessarily better. He honored his craft above money. It made me think deeply about my life and what is important to me.

When I started writing I got enamored of my descriptions of the fantastic scene of Copacabana beach with colors, sounds, people, dancing. What was important to me was to convey that to my reader.  I was taken up with trying to paint that scene and my message was lost.

Now I do two things when I start to write. I write down in one or two sentences my message that I yearn to communicate and then I let my prose flow.

As I am write this, I realize that I have not done what I am preaching. I have not crystalized my message to have that firm inside of me, before I started to write. So let me put down right here what my message is.

Writing is not something that only writers can do. Having a message that is of benefit to others and saying it in an accessible way is as much a part of being human as the act of giving away an apple is to the apple tree. We communicate every day with our families, our friends, with strangers we meet. Writing simply gives us all the opportunity to communicate to anybody anywhere.

I think every person has this inside of them.

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1 Heart it! 7

Heidi McArdle Oct 27, 2018 9:31pm

Wanting to make art has this tinge of me, me about it, whereas the the skill of communicating is like a good service dog. Maybe it can lead us to the view.

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