August 2, 2018


Posted in Creativity, First Drafts, flow in writing, freewriting, Ideas, organizing your writing, writing techniques tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:45 am by Rebecca Hein

Wander-writing, unlike freewriting, begins with a topic or idea, but there the structure stops. In wander-writing we start approximately where we do in a first draft, but instead of trying to produce a coherent piece, we let our subject take us wherever it goes.

I also do this frequently with any project I’ve already begun, but feel is going off the rails, even slightly. It’s an easy, relaxing way to explore my ideas and to tackle problems of organization or approach. After enough wander-writing for this purpose, I usually discover that my difficulties have resolved themselves, and I can easily complete whatever I was working on.

The supreme virtue of wander-writing is our liberation from any requirement to impose order on what we’re writing, to improve it, to stay on topic, or to revise. The rule is to let the subject lead us to what we are really thinking, or what we most want to write about it. This sweeps aside mental clutter and also deepens our writing—important benefits of letting our creative selves go.


April 17, 2018

The problem of sneering: are some people offended by others’ big dreams?

Posted in Fiction Writing, performance, publication, Success, writing for fun tagged , , , , at 8:00 am by Rebecca Hein

The problem of contempt toward unsuccessful writers is huge indeed if a musician feels free to sneer at a writer. Just to deepen the mystery—and the need for writers in particular to protect themselves—nobody ever derided me for wanting to be a professional cellist.

When I was at the most intensive hard-work and skill-building stage of my cello playing, my parents and teachers expressed concern for the effects of my impractical goal on my future, and encouraged me to add teacher certification in music to my college major of cello performance. But not one person criticized me or slighted my hopes.

By contrast, I learned early not to talk much about my hobby—writing—because I quickly discovered it was a waste of time and energy to deal with the invective that often seemed to result.

Were people jealous? Offended that I liked to do something fun and rewarding with my spare time? Affronted that I dared to nurture and follow my creative ideas?

Or did they sense my own big dreams, years before I was conscious of those dreams? But even if they did detect the presence of those possibly unrealistic dreams, why should they therefore resent and criticize?

February 27, 2013

Fun or Work? Part Four

Posted in writing for fun tagged at 3:51 am by Rebecca Hein

For years I took for granted in my cello practice the model of “work on difficult etudes and pieces because that’s what advances your skill.” Yes and no. I did learn upper-level techniques, yet the most important elements of performance escaped me.

How could I gain a feel for the music: timing, phrasing, and the deep emotion needed to really reach the audience? Over and over again we’re told that these things can’t be taught.

And why can’t they be taught? Because they most often flow organically from the free experience of making music.

Writing is the same. The easy flow of words can carry us along into magical places we can never get to by trying. And difficult jobs force us to try. Then we end up trying so hard that we lose that easy forward motion that is the essence of our art. Therefore, our quest should be for the simple path of enjoyment of what we do, trusting that this procedure will lead us to the more advanced abilities we want.

February 22, 2013

Fun or Work? Part Three

Posted in writing for fun tagged at 3:39 pm by Rebecca Hein

My entire musical training and a good share of my writing life was spent focusing on correctness and excellence. I worked hard because I wanted to be good at my art, and also because I’d discovered the joys of proficiency.

It’s fun to play the cello well and to write easily and well. Yet there’s a shorter path to this enjoyment than the thirty-year one I took.

Play easy pieces and give yourself easy writing assignments. Why complicate your artistic life with intricate tasks when the relaxation of easy forward momentum can iron out so many problems?

In music, tone and a natural feel for phrasing flow from playing pieces that are well within your technique. In writing, a simple, straightforward narrative is fun and almost writes itself. From there, more advanced abilities develop of their own accord.

January 11, 2013

Fun or Work? Part Two

Posted in music and writing, writing for fun tagged , at 10:33 am by Rebecca Hein

The best music teachers recognize that students have to be taught to love music from the very beginning, at the same time they’re learning proper technique. Although these methods succeed in varying degrees, the emphasis is still on getting things right.

Therein lies the problem in both music and writing. We have to do a good job, yet the need for correctness can spoil our pleasure in the activity.

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