A Writer & The Examined Life

No one sits down and writes a story without first feeling why that story is the one to write, or even why to write at all. But the stir to write should be more than an emotional sprint. Writers write because they want to, but also because they have to. Writing is a self-compulsion that stems from insight and reflection.

Attitude Determines Aptitude

The focus of any writer goes largely to determine how you write and what kind of writer you are (which are actually two different questions despite appearances). The end product of your composition is a result of your overall outlook to writing, but also to literature, as well. This is more than what you read or why, but the role you feel stories play in your life and in society as a whole.

If you see story telling as an indispensable component to the make-up and well-being of society, then you will approach you own creative writing very differently than the one who feels that literature and books are nothing more than an innocent pastime that most people can live without. The literary aesthete and the creative hobbyist will write completely different stories because they approach writing differently on the most basic of levels. As a writer, you must focus on your attitude toward creative writing.

Essence Precedes Existence

As a writer, you not only need to focus on your writing, but you need to focus on yourself. The real you will come out in your writing. Artists are that strange lot of folk who can somehow tap into their own subconscious while in a fully conscious state. Neither hypnotism nor trances are required for this. I can’t explain it. I also can’t explain how a brown cow can eat green grass and give me white milk and yellow butter, but I know full well that such is the arrangement.

Think about the type of person that you really are. Don’t give yourself an easy once-over, but engage in deep spiritual inventory. Fulfill the Classic axiom to Know Thyself. In so doing, you can have better insight into the type of you that will come out on the page. In other words, self-awareness goes far in understanding the kind of writer you will be. Not only will this help your writing, but it clearly can help you as a human being, as well.

Blueprints Without Buildings

I enjoy all fine art. Lately I have been engaged in painting. I have always liked visiting museums. In fact, one of my fondest memories as a young adult while in school was going to Ft.Worth’s Kimball and AmonCarterMuseums on the same Saturday. One had an exhibit of Winslow Homer and the other showed Rembrandt self-portraits.

For the past few months I’ve thought about taking up painting. I’ve studied lines of sight and vanishing points and golden rectangles. I have about forty ideas of subjects. And still, I now own neither brush, nor canvas, nor palate, nor easel, nor tube of paint. I have not painting anything, despite all of my planning and intentions.

I am not a painter until I paint something, just like I am not a writer until I write something. Focus is fine, indeed it is indispensable to compositional success. But wising and hoping and planning and dreaming won’t put you in his arms, and I won’t make you a writer (or a painter).

Preparation has its place as a means to a larger ends. Prepare yourself for writing in general, and for each work specifically. Eventually, you have to write. A writer without anything written is like a contractor who has blueprints without buildings. Focus your mind, and then move those fingers.



Filed under Creative Writing

2 responses to “A Writer & The Examined Life

  1. I was thinking of you this week…you challenged me to write a poem several months (a year ago?). I tried to return to poetry after a long absence but the poems were not coming. Yesterday I said “let me give this a whirl” and lo and behold, a poem appeared. I will let is sit for a few days but will put it up this week methinks. Thanks for the continuing inspiration, personally and through your blog.

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