Monday, March 27, 2006

Inspired writing

Here are the notes I took at Nick William’s ‘inspired writing’ course on Saturday

Nick’s recipe for writing is to:
• work out what inspires you
• overcome the resistance you feel to writing
• turn up at the page and write
• learn some craft techniques for making the most of your ideas

Work out what inspires you
Inspiration is natural to human beings. The latin origin of the word ‘inspiration’ is to breathe, and it is as simple as that. Inspiration is available to us as human beings living in the world.

Inspiration is an evolutionary force, a force for change in our lives. You may have an idea and think to yourself ‘that is a great idea but I’m not big enough to do/write that’’. Inspiration is the motive force for us to grow to become big enough to express and develop that idea.

To stay inspired we need to stay in touch with the things in the world that inspire us. Our sources of inspiration are like our wells which stop us from running dry. Work out what inspires you. Make time in your daily life for the things that inspire you: if nature inspires you, spend time with it. If you get inspired by art, spend time with art. If you get inspired by dancing, dance.

Nick advised us to look for unexpected source of inspiration, and to trawl our nets wider in search of new sources of inspiration. Nick was surprised to be inspired by Las Vegas, by all the entertainment available there.

I realised on the course that I am inspired by:
  • people who are willing to express and live by their values in life
  • acts of friendship, kindness and solidarity
  • small second-hand bookshops, art galleries and bakers that manage to keep going
  • art
  • conversations or books that cause me to make connections between people, places, ideas ,times and possibilities
  • strong and humorous communities of people
  • rivers and the sea
  • my friends.

Overcome your resistance
Resistance is our attempts to dissuade ourselves from acting on our inspiration. Could be anything from ‘I’ m too tired’ ‘I’m not ready’ ‘I’m not capable’ ‘I’ve got more important things to do’.

The more important something is to you, the stronger will be your own resistance to doing it. Realise that you will resist your own creativity, and be prepared to defend your own creativity against your own resistance.

Turn up at the page and write
Nothing will get written if you don’t turn up at the page and write.

Don’t wait until you have something great to say before you write: start off by writing some crap! Adults have a tendency to think they ought to know how to do stuff. The best way of learning is to try things. When children learn to walk they fall over lots of times and they don’t care, they try again. When adults try something that doesn’t work they have a tendency to say to themselves ‘I can’t do this’.

Don’t wait until you feel inspired with lots of ideas before you write: start writing to unlock your ideas.

Use some craft techniques
Start small. Lower your bars for success. You don’t have to write a book all at once. Start with an article, or a presentation or a workshop.

Craft your writing so that it works for the reader. You don’t have to tell the reader everything you know.

One craft technique that Nick showed us was coming up with some ‘top tips’ and then elaborate on each one: I’ve used it for this blog post.

Be clear about why you are writing: are you writing to entertain, to inform, as catharsis for yourself, to make money? Any one piece of writing may be for one or more of those reasons. We will write for different purposes at different times.

If your writing was just about using craft techniques then you would just end up as a hack and you would not enjoy it. But if you keep in touch with your inspiration then writing will not only be a source of joy but also of personal growth and fulfilment.

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