Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The ABC’S of Writing Into Truth

By Tina Welling

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: The creative process can be a strange thing. Sometimes we know exactly what we did to achieve our art, and other times we have no idea where the inspiration came from. That's part of the fun, but also part of the frustration. How do we reliably access this inner muse? Tina Welling takes the podium today to share some tips on finding our inner writing truths.

Tina Welling is the author of Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature and three novels including Cowboys Never Cry. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Sun, Body & Soul, and a variety of anthologies. She lives in Jackson Hole, WY.

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Take it away Tina...

The ABCs of writing into our own truth are attention, belief, and courage. Attention means offering awareness to our body sensations and our emotions; belief means trusting our responses; courage means taking action based upon our responses. Each time we follow these ABCs, we strengthen the access to our inner authority. When we write down the discoveries our attention brings us – our emotions and body awareness – and read it back to ourselves or someone else, we are taking a step toward trusting our findings and taking action upon them.

We don’t have to know something to write; we write to know something. We write to bring into our consciousness the inner authority that so often remains in the unconscious. If you doubt at all your inner well of knowledge and creativity, stop right here and write a paragraph about any object in your vicinity. Report the findings of your senses and body sensations. Allow associations to occur and images to arise.

People often ask writers, “Where do you get your ideas, your stories?” Even we wonder sometimes where our material comes from, especially when we are writing in a concentrated way that flows with newly unearthed material. Some writers give over their power and their reverence to the product – the book or poem – rather than the source of that product: their own inner authority.

That’s another result of thinking the source is one of luck, of mystery, and feeling superstitious about examining that too closely, fearing it will disappear. Possibly, this accounts for those writers who have enormous success with one book and then can’t write another. They’ve put all their power into the outcome of what is an inner process.

Sadly, this sometimes happens with a person’s first poem or story. It receives rave responses, and the writer believes it was a fluke because she can’t trace the flow of the work from within her to the product without. She believes it was a one-time accident and, after the immediate exhilaration of her experience, becomes depressed.

Oddly, this can happen even after multiple successes. One of my workshop students reports that he sees each publication as a fluke and fears he can’t ever do it again.

It’s this inner process of arriving at our own material that intrigues me and that I demystify in WRITING WILD. For if we don’t understand it, we feel that creative energy is in control and shares itself with us only on whim. Our relationship to writing and to ourselves must be more intimate than that. Intimacy, in partnership with another human or in partnership with our inner selves, demands trust and faithfulness. We can’t write if we think a disembodied muse may or may not show up to unlock our creative vault and give us access to our own personal material.

This kind of thinking is irresponsible, as if we are refusing to be accountable for our own creative lives. Material can occur to us with such rapidity that we cannot immediately trace the steps our minds took in connecting two seemingly unrelated ideas. But when we are very alert to the data our senses bring us and to the memories, hopes, fear, and dreams that the sensory data triggers, we will make instantaneous links. It’s this fully traceable process that many of us mistake for mystery, luck, and visits from the muse.

Based on the book Writing Wild. Copyright © 2014 by Tina Welling. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.NewWorldLibrary.com.

About Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature

“Everything we know about creating,” writes Tina Welling, “we know intuitively from the natural world.” In Writing Wild, Welling details a three-step “Spirit Walk” process for inviting nature to enliven and inspire our creativity.

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1 comment:

  1. This applies not only to writing, but also to almost any creative endeavor (i'm currently working on my singing and bass guitar playing, and i find many of the same negative Norman voices in my head while making music as i do in writing, music just gives far more instant gratification when you finally get a lick or verse right...). Artists in general (by which i mean any person undertaking a creative endeavor) are just more sensitive to their own inner critics, which can easily lead into creative paralysis (or maybe that is just me...).

    Thank you for sharing and i'll certainly check out Writing Wild when i get a chance.