The Great Writer’s Instincts

Recently, while mulling over a WIP, I started feeling very apprehensive about the story itself, in all its entirety. Were my worries of simplicity and conventionality paranoia or was my story really trash? Nobody will care about this story… the hero is not interesting enough… her obstacles aren’t challenging… I had to talk to somebody. I began on a rant about all the literary rules I was breaking and all the writer’s advice I was forgetting to apply to my story.

The advice I got was simple. Stop thinking and just write from your gut.

Of course, I should take into consideration that this came from a person who just wanted to go back to sleep and get rid of me. Nevertheless, I think the advice was sound. Except, after all the time I spent thinking logically and pragmatically about my writing, how I do I make the shift into passionate, effortless writing?

Writing viscerally means transcending what you’ve been told about literature, while remaining connected to that knowledge, and listening to the past, present, and future of yourself and your world. It requires a great deal of character (no, I don’t mean the fictional kind), confidence and the courage to put all of yourself into your writing. Great writers open themselves and their minds and let the world flow through them. Great writers (and artists in general) are sieves which leave us with filtered versions of their world. It isn’t that these writers are better people or that they are more interesting; it is their sensitivity to their surroundings and their ability to regurgitate their experiences.

What I need, and what I think many writers could benefit from, is a dose of moderation.¬† To detach myself completely would be a mistake. But to continue on this narrow path of¬†writing tips and literary instruction is also wrong. I will try to center myself between my instincts and my how-to books, between my self and the advice of others. For me, the most important aspect of writing is to ensure that it is a creation all my own. To feel the airs of inspiration is necessary, sure. We should still try to, as T.S. Elliot says, “steal” from great writers. But what we steal should be open and flexible enough so that we are still able to work with it and make it our own. Now when I write, I will try to remember to ask myself: is my voice coming through? Does it reflect my own originality? Am I contributing as much of myself as possible?


The Only Post of 2009

April 2nd, 2010: Trying to re-write a terrible philosophy paper.

I realized today that my “Only Post of 2009” was a disastrous attempt at writing out all my philosophical beliefs. I deleted the blog post and edited down most of the original document. This post is an April 2nd post and May 17 can bite me. Trying to re-write this paper is no easy feat. It turns out Philosophy can be quite trying. I’ve barely started but it’s looking like this project is going to take more than just 24 hours.