from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Reeling in the Fish (the practice of writing)

I have come back from the islands and as usual hit the ground running, as they say, with work undone and emails unanswered from before I went away, when I was still moaning and groaning with flu, and this post is really a kind of holding post.

A few weeks back I mentioned that I'd been – until a few weeks back – a regular columnist for women's writing magazine 'MsLexia', writing on the reflective aspects of creativity, and I posted the first column in the series I wrote ('rainforests & fishing lines', March 3). This is the second column – sorry if it seems didactic; my brief was to include a 'try this', and to make it at first fairly basic.

More of other things soon.

Writing Your Self 2
Last time I spoke of the importance of allowing one’s mind to drop into the semi-hypnagogic freewheeling state that operates just below the level of conscious intellectual activity, such as when dropping off to sleep, or just as you awaken. It happens too in daydreaming; during certain kinds of meditation or visualisation; in relaxation; in some kinds of repetitive activity such as walking, running, swimming – athletes call it ‘the zone’. It’s characterised by a flow of images, sometimes accompanied by feelings.  
This liminal mind-state is exceedingly fertile ground for a writer, and I consider ways of accessing this state to be core practice for both creative and reflective writing. Sensory stimulus enhances the ability to drop into this state. Images and music ‘speak’ directly to this place in us, as well as image-based poetry. When your mind is freewheeling below the threshold of conscious thought other guiding principles such as intuition, feeling and imagery can come into their own and work in synergy, rather than being held subservient by the intellect.
            This is also the place from which those ‘eureka’ moments of genius arise: Crick (of Crick and Watson) had his insight into the double helix nature of DNA after dreaming of a pair of intertwined snakes (the caduceus), and research scientist Kekulé, before him, daydreamed the shape of a snake (or ‘ouroboros’) holding its own tail in its mouth, which turned out to reflect the molecular structure of benzene.
            The core practice for a creative writer is ‘stream of consciousness’ writing (which is actually ‘stream-of-liminal-consciousness writing’). You’re aiming to get out of your own light, so as not to ‘direct’ the writing process (that’s secondary). These are the steps:
  1. Buy a good fat notebook – one that you’ll enjoy writing in
  2. Set yourself achievable goals. Ten minutes a day, five days a week that you do is worth more than an hour a day seven days a week that you don’t do
  3. Don’t expect ‘good’ writing. Don’t expect anything – just allow (see my Writing the Bright Moment)
  4. Try and do this very first thing in the morning, the moment you wake up – before a pee, cup of tea, talking; or immediately before sleep if this is better for you
  5. These are my ‘rules’ (other tutors have variations on this):
·       Use a pen and notebook, not a computer (the cursive act of moving the pen connects more directly to the image-based part of the brain)
·       If you need a ‘prompt’, play some music, lift an image out of a poem, or start with what you’re feeling or a recent event
·       When you have started, don’t stop. Keep your pen moving, even if only to write ‘I am stuck and this is rubbish’ over and over until you get unstuck
·       Don’t think and don’t censor
·       Allow yourself to write rubbish.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive