You’re an artist.
That’s what draws you into writing. And, I like to think, it’s what pulls you into reading this newsletter. You wanna be in the company of artists. And funny, isn’t it? How writing is so often categorized as cerebral and ivory-towerish, how often its raw creative energy and art spirit is stripped away.
And there’s real danger in stripping the artist spirit away from your writing:
- You miss a critical must-have ingredient to amazing writing
- You under-nurture your inner artistic force, which unlocks your creative juju
- You produce acceptable, nice work. But it doesn’t move or punch at the gut
Before you dismiss this as woo-woo, let me prove you know exactly what I mean:
Ever read a book that defies human invention?
I mean, have you ever read something so sublime, so perfectly conceived and whole, it seems implausible that a human being actually sat down to write it? For me, Beloved comes to mind. Or The God of Small Things. Honestly, even the Bible and Quran. And yet. Real, flawed, bone and flesh human beings did invent that brilliance. How? Persistence, yes. And Talent, in endless bundles. But also something else. Something like the mystery that allowed Toni Morrison to “see” the character Beloved walk out of the water, as Morrison sat one day at her home overlooking the Hudson.
Ever read something piercing you wrote and wondered where it came from?
Especially when you’re working with a difficult scene or unlikely character, have you ever put words on a page and been surprised, later, by how they got there? Almost as if someone else was finishing sentences for you. Or better yet, as if the entire thing came to you whole?
Ever heard writers describe their characters talking to them?
Or maybe you have this experience yourself. There’s a deeply mysterious thing that happens when you’re completely open as a vessel–strange shit comes through you. Including characters who speak their own mind and demand that you listen. Folks who’ve shied away from their inner creativity are sometimes threatened/woo-wooed out by such talk. But as the legendary artist Bob Marley sings, Them who feel it, Know it.
You have to respect this spiritual force that’s at the heart of writing.
How? This is where actor Tracee Ellis Ross’ brilliant invitation to Wonder. Ponder. Be. comes in. Loved her segment with Hoda & Jenna breaking down what this means to her own artistic process. Hearing Tracee, I thought immediately of Julia Cameron and the Artist Dates she advocates in The Artist’s Way. I wanna suggest is a mish-mash of Julia and Tracee’s methods and then a little extra.
- Can you acknowledge Everyday Wonder? In the moments when your brain is working but not necessarily active writing mode?
- Can you Wander? Where are the breaks for movement in your day?
- Can you Ponder? By making open space for doing nothing? And making time for an all-screen detox.
- Can you take yourself on an Artist Date? Wrote about this here.
- Can you Surrender? If creativity is a gateway to your highest Spirit, then maybe you don’t have to know it all to begin or keep going. And maybe allowing yourself to remain open to a higher force—and becoming a vessel in your writing—is the way real ass humans make art that defies human invention.
Did I get too woo-woo on your fine writerly ass? 😂Sure hope so!
Do me a solid and let me know if you’ve ever experienced anything I’m describing—don’t leave me out-here’s just hanging.