May 22, 2018

If writers are really the worst judges of their own work, how can we be sure of engaging readers?

Posted in Connecting with readers, Depth, Ideas, performance, publication, self-evaluation, Success tagged , , , , , , at 7:50 am by Rebecca Hein

When I finally quit trying to replicate one successful column, I settled back into writing-as-usual. For me that means getting in touch with my best ideas, developing them, and eventually producing finished pieces from them.

In this process, I’m not thinking about what will please readers, although I aim for clarity, simplicity, and good organization. My motive power is the passion I feel for the idea. With my very first column, I’d discovered that if I wrote from my deepest convictions, this reached to an equally deep place within a significant number of readers.

Thus, in the aftermath of “Compose Yourself,” I rediscovered what engages readers. However, the mystery of that episode remained with me because while writing “Compose Yourself,” I hadn’t been aware that its central idea came from an unusual level of depth or passion.

So I still haven’t figured out why that column succeeded, but recently I saw a possible reason why the next few columns didn’t reach as high.

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March 1, 2018

The passion behind your writing can compensate for small errors

Posted in Creativity, Depth, Fiction Writing, Flow, flow in writing, Momentum in writing, music and writing, Tone tagged , , , , , , , at 5:17 pm by Rebecca Hein

Experienced musicians know that if they enthrall the audience, small imperfections can’t ruin their performance. An absorbed listener doesn’t notice an occasional out-of-tune note, or forgets it in the excitement of the music.

It’s the same in literature; while writing, if we build enough creative momentum, occasional omissions or small holes in our plot may not matter.

This is not an argument for sloppiness. We can only achieve excellence if we work at it with all our energy. However, we can’t let that high standard box us into scrutinizing every detail of our narrative at the same time we could be searching for the deep place within ourselves where we accomplish our best work.

I’m convinced that Dostoyevsky discovered that profound well of creativity while writing Crime and Punishment.

June 20, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part Three

Posted in Creativity, Depth, Peak Experiences tagged , , at 3:47 pm by Rebecca Hein

The art of not grabbing for your best work has to be practiced just like any other skill. It’s a state of mind where you must balance your desire to write well with a complete release of that hope.

This may feel impossible, but it probably isn’t any harder than musical performance, where you want to play your best, yet know that this very goal will defeat you if it is foremost in your mind. To get lost in the music, forgetting everything else, is the way to play your best.

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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