December 28, 2011

Tone in Writing, Part Two: What’s Inside You

Posted in Tone, writing techniques tagged , at 1:28 pm by Rebecca Hein

When an otherwise accomplished musician plays with an unpleasing tone, there’s usually a reason. He or she may be nervous, anxious, or just generally under stress. This is communicated to listeners and does not attract them.

In writing, the best illustration of this I’ve run across was in a “Writing and…” book. Writing has been linked to everything from Taoism to yoga, and in reading one such book I discovered a fatal error. The author took her non-writing discipline so seriously that this tone overpowered the whole book. What came through loud and clear was not, “This discipline is very important,” but “I am very important for writing about this.”

I was bored, didn’t finish the book, and have never recommended it to anyone except as a negative example.

December 22, 2011

Tone in Writing, Part One: Does it Attract or Repel?

Posted in Tone, writing techniques tagged , at 1:28 pm by Rebecca Hein

Tone in writing is like tone in music: it either attracts or repels. I’ve sat through many solo recitals where I couldn’t wait to get out because of the performer’s rasping or edgy tone. Conversely, I’ve been transfixed by the pure, clear sound in an otherwise less-than-perfect performance.

Writers, in facing this problem, have to first learn to listen for tone. Next, you need to be aware that tone is not just a matter of listening and practice, but is also a product of what’s inside you.

December 16, 2011

How Writing is Like Music: Holiday Special on Writing Classes

Posted in Writing Classes tagged , at 2:44 pm by Rebecca Hein

Holiday Special on Two Writing Classes: How Writing is Like Music.

Classes scheduled for Saturday January 14, 2012, and Saturday February 4, 2012.

Course descriptions:

January 14: Polishing a Piece: How to Prevent Staleness in Your Final Drafts. When you’ve read a piece too many times, there’s a way to get beyond this to a deeper understanding of what it needs next.

February 4: Writing as Target Practice: When a musician plays in tune, everyone can hear this accuracy. Writers can learn to write exactly the story or essay the Muse is calling for, the way musicians learn to play in tune.

For both classes the details are as follows:

Format: Telephone Conference Call

Schedule: Noon-2:30 pm (critiques) and 4:00-6:30 pm (discussion) Eastern Time

Instructor: Rebecca Hein, cellist and writer

Cost: $50.00 per class. Special holiday offer: Sign up for one class, get the other at half price. Total: $75.00. To qualify for this special offer you must register by Friday December 23, 2011.

To register, pay via PayPal to woodturnedart@vcn.com or send a check to Hein Family Enterprises, Inc. 10205 W. Hwy. 220, Casper, WY 82604. Postmark December 23, 2011.

For each class, enrollment is limited to the first eight people who sign up.

For more information contact Rebecca Hein rhein@vcn.com; 1-888-921-9595 or
(307) 472-3120

December 14, 2011

On Discernment

Posted in Flow, flow in writing tagged , , at 5:27 pm by Rebecca Hein

A large component of writing lies not so much in putting our sentences and paragraphs together as in discerning what to put in and what to take out. Say you’ve written a brilliant lead; your piece is nearly done and then you realize that the lead doesn’t fit.

In the past, I’ve found it hard to let go of a well-written passage, even when it’s obviously not right for the piece it’s in. This reluctance in turn clouds my thinking and makes it harder for me to rewrite the section to better fit the piece.

The way out is to cultivate a finely-honed discernment which helps us decide on our content. This skill is more important than working directly on clear sentences and well-ordered paragraphs because if we have that clear discernment, our basic writing will flow better. Then choosing the right word or where to close a paragraph will be that much easier.

December 7, 2011

Momentum, Part Four: Why Rely on Anything Else?

Posted in Flow, flow in writing, writing techniques tagged , , at 5:29 am by Rebecca Hein

If momentum really does solve most problems of technique, why do we let ourselves get bogged down? Possibly because we don’t trust the simple process of generating flow.

Writers in particular have a hard time accepting the basic condition of freewriting, i.e. that content doesn’t matter. If momentum is your goal, get going and forget about brilliant sentences…or any sentences at all. Sometimes my freewriting is so disjointed that it makes little sense, but it doesn’t need to.

As with cello practice, the more I immerse myself in the feel of what I’m doing, the fewer problems I have. You should try this with freewriting: enjoy your forward motion and wait for the moment when this ease transfers to your more structured work.