Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Amazing Way We Channel Our Inner Writing Madness

     A recent discussion on LinkedIn about creative madness brought out many differing views on life, psychology, and politics, but little in the way of an inspiring take on writing as a divine extension of the mind into unknown worlds of words, images and endless possibilities.

     A writer who posted an article on how to push away critics that seek to steal our unique voice and the way we scream or whisper through words and images was berated for daring to mention madness as an asset.

    The discussion devolved to  discussing how we shouldn't talk about mental illness as an asset. Van Gogh was brought up as an example of brilliance enclosed in an iconic battle for his life. It actually was great fuel for exploring that creative path in our souls that cries out when something is wrong. Sometimes, the best way to expunge the pain or follow through on elation is to write, paint, build, code or pursue other hands-on expressions of creation that make life worth living.

    Unfortunately, we have imbued labels such as "ADD/ADHD" with the power to stigmatize a whole population of people who may run instead of walking, who may speak out of turn, who may not be able to organize their lives without sticky notes (in some cases), and who might be perfectly happy the way they are if it wasn't for living in a time when deviation from the norm equals deviance.

We Write to Survive

 Writing and survival cannot be separated.

     We are led to believe that getting through school with good grades and attending a quality college will ensure our place in a profession that will feed us while we pursue what we love. If we are really lucky, we can work on what we love in our professional and private lives. (To see artists doing just that...tune into the PBS series on "Craft in America.")

     Unfortunately,  especially with writing, our worlds may collide and one or the other has to give way to reality. But how we set up that reality is part of the creative process we can embrace and pass forward.

Monday, June 16, 2014




  Get Those Years of Formal Education

 Out of Your Head and Write

        Unfortunately, anyone who has been formally taught how to write may dread the thought of composing another paper, poem or even an e-mail.

      We all know the voice in our head that either whispers or shouts about improving our penmanship or cutting back on daydreaming, the inability to sit still or a habit of drawing rather than writing, if the classwork was boring or tedious.

     This dread comes from the fact that we learn by doing, but we are taught to follow a very narrow path in mastering subjects like writing or math. Both these talents call on our free-form creativity. Yet letting our imaginations take us close to home or to far flung galaxies without a structure and outline is often seen as nonproductive in corporate and academic circles.

     Formal education has many goals, but the freedom to move, sing, dance or laugh out loud is not among them in most settings. After all, those actions lead to noise. Noise leads to distractions. Distractions lead to failing tests. Tests then fail to assess education. In the end, no one would be socialized and schools as we know them would cease to exist. 

      This isn't to say that individual teachers cannot inspire, allow movement and laughter or provide differentiation that feeds the inner writer. It's just that the structure of formal education is similar to the way we are taught to write.

       In an attempt to help others break away from the routine writing exercises and seminars that pass for adult education, I will offer a five to six week "course" on this blog starting in two months that will play with words in an effort to bring back some joy to writing.

      This is an experiment, so please chime in with suggestions.