‘A mind that is stretched never returns to its original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell
As the shorter, more reflective days of winter settle in, I am half way through my teaching months with the Faber Academy in Sydney, engrossed in bringing to my talented, serious, highly alert students all that I can to increase their pleasure in writing along with their fluency, skill, vision and highly subjective personal discoveries. In all my writing courses – and I’ve taught writing in different countries for decades now – I strive to emphasize the intrinsic rewards of writing: the insights, connections, sensual delights, greater depth of understanding, calm, excitement that writing brings. No one can take that from you. No reviewer, critic or careless reader can spoil it through ignorance or malice. Those pleasures are at least as long-lasting and certainly more life-changing than the applause of publication, as sweet as that is and as necessary for those of us who are professional writers. But there’s sweetness, too, as well as freedom, in NOT being dependent only on others’ judgements. “This writing matters. That writing does not.” This doesn’t imply ignoring where there’s obvious room to grow in vision and skills; it does mean not being inhibited by ancient or inappropriate criticisms that could hold you back from discovering what writing can give and reveal.
My most explicit book-form writing “instruction” (encouragement, stimulation) comes in Creative Journal Writing which I wrote some years ago primarily for journal writers but it turns out to be as useful for writers in almost every other genre who want to loosen up – and not just enjoy this marvelous art but begin to explore its infinite possibilities and depths.
Don’t you love it, too, that nothing expensive is needed to begin? Nor are great chunks of time demanded. Start. Write. Continue. Your world will immediately be larger, more intense, more interesting.
‘The work of writing for me can be, or can be very close to, the simple job of being:by creative reflection and awareness to help life itself live in me.’ Thomas Merton