Thursday, 2 May 2013

Writing with Purpose

I suppose this post's title is an invitation to disaster.

What can I possibly mean by 'writing with purpose'? And shouldn't my blog post be a more or less perfect example of finish and poise?

Perhaps. But also perhaps not.

Surely the attempt to write something meaningful, something true, something really true, is connected not so much to what we say, nor the way we choose to say it, but rather is linked to our innate, deep-seated capacity for truly listening.

I believe we all have this capacity, this potential. It's just a question of learning to unearth it.

Listening is something we usually think of in relation to conversations with others, but in a writing and creative sense, listening is more about reaching into a deeper space, through the interference of our own superficial thoughts and quietly on, and then out, into the great ocean-like unseen, where the universe is not really perceived by sight at all, but by an inner sense (isn't there something amazing--it might even be called synchrony--that 'inner sense' echoes the word innocence? And innocence is a kind of tuning out the superficiality associated with emotional defensiveness. It seems to encourage openness, the readiness to receive.)

This kind of inner sense (or innocent) listening can, and in my experience has and will, bring us into gentle contact with what feels akin to a great reservoir of Being, sheer energy or creative force. And will on condition that we learn to trustingly surrender to its omniscience. I would suggest this experience can be one of the ways we learn a little more about God.

I think I should acknowledge the influence of two great Creatives as their work has helped me to more successfully apprehend this awareness. I think if you'll read their work, you'll see what I mean.

The writers (and their superb books) are:

Dorothea Brande (author of Becoming a Writer)

Julia Cameron (author of The Artist's Way)

So... writing with purpose? It's all about learning to listen.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Creative Conduct...

In attempting the creative I acknowledge the spiritual.

I desire the company of good will and kindness to my fellow Creatives.  I desire a feeling of kindness towards them no matter where they may be in their journey.

In acknowledging the principles of effort and experience, I reject the impulse towards unkind and unhelpful contentiousness.  It will threaten my work.

I am able, in the silence of my heart, to observe the current state of things and gain wisdom and ability from this.

I reject the temptation to criticise for the sake of superiority.  The spirit of superiority is counter to the spirit of creativity.

I accept others and benefit from their efforts.  I applaud the efforts of others and assume integrity and childlike desire on the part of those engaged: I assume their desire to be like mine--to produce a lasting legacy of meaningful and worthwhile Art.

My desire is to produce beauty and emotionally strengthening material, to find and share my  viewpoint; my greater challenge is to reject the temptation to envy and to jealousy, and to other unhelpful distractions--all of these choke my creativity and diminish my Art.

I pray for the strength to give what I can give, and avoid the things that scar me.

I believe that the blessing of confidence is a great asset and worthy of pursuit.

I will take each day as my moment to think, create, and otherwise contribute.  Each day is an opportunity, each hour a chance to invigorate.

I will seek to contemplate, to concentrate, and to consecrate my compassion to the edifying and encouraging of all those around me.

I will let go of the things that discourage me, I will move on from the days that I don't quite make the aspirations outline above.

I am able to become the kind of man I hope to be, and to make the contribution I hope to make.   

Monday, 1 April 2013

Creativity equals vulnerability and energy...

After commiting to share musings on the creative process, I decided it might really help if I took a bit of time to organise myself first, or at least brainstorm a few things I felt able to get my teeth into.  I came up with a fairly eclectic list that ranges from discussing elements of narrative craft, such as plot and character, to contemplations on the Golden Mean, to confidence, synchronicity, and purpose in the face of death... Not sure at this stage how this grand plan will pan out.  But each of these ideas seemed important.  So I'll do my best to offer my two pennies on them.

Also, I don't really want this to become a Writers Only column; I really believe that principles of creativity are transferable.  And, again, this isn't limiting us to 'conventional' artistry: being human is to be creative. Every time we're kind to someone, we build something a little more beautiful.

Hopefully, you'll be able to substitute 'writing' for anything that happens to be more within your circle of interesting.

I want to begin with a pretty basic question:

What is writing?

This makes me think of an early line in one of my favourite films, Dead Poets Society, in which a stuffy handbook reduces poetry to potential passionless exercises in analysis.

Don't get me wrong.  There's a place for such approaches, and without a healthy interest in analysis so much understanding can be missed.  But writing, like living, demands our passion--our personal commitment--the courage to own an opinion, an energised view.

Creativity can be analysed and debated, but to really to enrich others, I have to live with my heart wide open.  Which of course is fraught with emotional danger.  But that's the deal if our creations are to really live.

And the price of life is vulnerability.  As Robert Frost is attributed with saying: 'No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.'

Writing--like any act of creation--means understanding that we are engaged in capturing and sharing energy. Our energy.  And that we are doing so for the sake of others.  Little wonder it both hurts and exhilarates...

Saturday, 30 March 2013



Kicking off a blog is hard.  Well, for me it is anyway.  There's something like a kind of stage fright, a fear of speaking on your own in a corner, about things no-one has time for.  Or worse, speaking in way that is just windy, boring, and irrelevant.

But I have been offered a book contract.  On a novel I currently call Hope.  And after ten years of submitting various versions to publishers, I am trying to find a way to create a chatting place, a place where we can talk all things Book.

I'm excited to get started.

What I think I am trying to do here is discuss and celebrate the creative process.  It's so important. So essential.  But it is not just about the obvious forms, such as art and literature or whatever else immediately springs to mind when someone says Creative.  The process reflects our human need for joy.  Which finds its way into every aspect of our lives.  I find it in my effort to write, but equally it manifests in striving to be a friend, a wise parent, a good spouse.

I guess I need to say from the outset that I believe in God.  I believe in the fact that I need to believe in God.  And I don't see this as a weakness.  For me, it has been the underpinning reason to keep with this creative intent.

Regardless of whether others agree with identifying God in the creative process (it's not my intention to ram faith down anyone's throat) I hope to focus on common ground: the wonder of humankinds' inherent capacity to 'make things' - it's a truly amazing gift.

Life is a wonder.

So I'll call this place The Sound of Musing.

The book can now be ordered here...