June 27, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part Four

Posted in Peak Experiences, Practice Writing tagged , at 2:12 am by Rebecca Hein

How do you induce a state of mind where you write your best? The answer lies in your subconscious, which responds beautifully to “down time” and indirect work.

This is why practice writing is so valuable. It releases you from conscious effort to write well. In practice writing, you’re generating words with no purpose other than flow. Your brain doesn’t have to work at all, yet you’re still writing.

This dichotomy, in which you’re doing two semi-related things at once, will help you practice the similar paradox of wanting to write your best while not grabbing for it.

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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.

June 13, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part Two

Posted in Creativity, freewriting, Peak Experiences, writing techniques tagged , , , , at 4:43 pm by Rebecca Hein

If our best work feels like a gift from above and therefore not something we can just grab, how do we achieve it? What I’ve learned from cello playing has taught me the answer.

In a series of wonderful, serendipitous practice sessions, I expected nothing. Making no attempt to recapture the best achievements of the previous day, I simply launched into my warm-ups and the beautiful, easy folk songs that deliver pure enjoyment.

For writers this is part of the answer. Give yourself time for fun, easy writing. Too many hours spent struggling with plot, character, or scene will bog you down.

Instead, on a daily basis, write letters to yourself. Or rant about your frustrations. Anything to get the words moving, after which you can expect things to begin to sparkle.

June 6, 2012

Perfect Moments, Part One

Posted in Creativity, Peak Experiences tagged , at 4:33 pm by Rebecca Hein

The essence of a sublime experience is that you can’t hold onto it. Yet these transcendent moments in creativity produce our best stories, poems, and scenes. How do we attain this exalted state where we know we’re generating material many readers will want?

I began speculating about this several years ago when my cello practicing floated into that zone of enchantment where everything worked perfectly. Instinct told me I couldn’t repeat it. Yet I’ve been able to do just that, time after time, until I’ve nearly come to expect it.

May 2, 2012

Total Absorption

Posted in Creativity, Flow, flow in writing, freewriting, Peak Experiences, writing techniques tagged , , , , at 2:01 pm by Rebecca Hein

When technique and tools disappear, leaving only our work in full flow, our consciousness is altered and we carry the wonder of that experience for days. The problem is that in wishing for a recurrence, we’ll skew it just by trying for it.

If instead we cultivate a state of attentive waiting, we’ll predispose ourselves to more such moments, yet without forcing. In music, attentive waiting can occur anytime you’re playing, and when you let go of everything except that alert, open state of mind.

In writing, especially freewriting, the same applies. Forget trying to write a story, scene, or essay. Forget not trying to write it. Start writing and see what happens, and don’t be surprised when you find that you’ve forgotten everything but the energy of the moment.

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