December 29, 2010

On Depth

Posted in Depth tagged , , at 9:45 am by Rebecca Hein

We normally think of depth in writing as a meaningful experience for the reader. But what does this feel like on the other end?

Not long ago I was working on the final draft of a piece when I sensed a more profound level of insight, flow, and confidence. It was so real that I could actually feel my attention sinking more deeply into my work.

The cause? More than just multiple reworkings of a single idea. More than daily (or regular) writing. More than a lifetime of cello playing. The final ingredient was trust in my creativity, born of a wide-open approach, which you can try at any time.

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December 22, 2010

About Incubation

Posted in Incubation tagged , , at 9:18 am by Rebecca Hein

Incubation is what begins when you put aside a writing project because you can’t figure out what to do with it. I often have this problem, but generally not for long.

I’ve learned to retain unconscious focus while releasing my direct attention. During this stage I don’t try to do any writing on that particular project, but I do read through it in a lazy, undirected state. I also take walks, as extended and dreamy as my schedule allows. Not long thereafter the solution pops out of my right brain.

December 15, 2010

How to Listen for Tone

Posted in Tone tagged , , , at 9:45 am by Rebecca Hein

Tone in writing is more than formal versus informal, stuffy versus breezy, or somber versus light. Tone is also revealed in the beauty and proportion in your sentences, the depth of your ideas, and the clarity of your structure.

Listening to tone in writing is like practicing the cello. When your words flow, as with musical sounds, you can feel whether or not they are smooth and aesthetically pleasing. With your inborn sense of symmetry and elegance you can detect bumps, awkward passages, and other flaws.

This is best worked out in warm-ups and practice because there you can experience the momentum of language without burdening yourself with anything other than your tone and how it feels.

December 8, 2010

Why Your Idea is Better Than Mine

Posted in Ideas tagged , , at 9:45 am by Rebecca Hein

Years ago in cello teaching, I realized that I should let my students make their own discoveries. I quit offering instruction or even advice, instead waiting to observe their difficulties as they struggled to manage their own learning.

I commiserated, encouraged, and did more listening than ever before in my career. And I saw what happened when they were thus forced to rely on themselves. Insights burst upon them in their practicing and they’d arrive at their lessons so excited at what they’d taught themselves that they couldn’t wait to tell me. They never forgot their own revelations, nor failed to apply them.

So it is with your writing. I might have more experience, perhaps more confidence, and more publication credits. But I can’t put my ideas or even my best insights into your head. It would be too much like an organ transplant: it likely wouldn’t take, but more to the point, what you generate will be perfectly compatible with who you are and what you need to write.

December 1, 2010

Why Today’s Idea is Better Than Yesterday’s

Posted in Ideas tagged , , at 9:30 am by Rebecca Hein

Today’s idea is fresh. It floats at you in the first flush of your warm-up or practice session, and can become pure experience, unmediated by any leftover instructions from your teacher or your own expectations.

Pure experience can produce an idea or narrative so powerful that you are compelled to share not only that particular story or poem but the magical process that led up to it. Once your process is as creative as your product, you’ve tapped into your deepest springs of creativity.