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The Secret to Creative Writing

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RelaxHeaderWhen you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

–Rumi

For writers and artists, especially ones who have a business side to their artistic endeavors, there is a constant tightrope act of walking between the logic part of the brain and letting go so the creative side can work its magic. The difficulty in this can be that once the logic-brain has been activated, creativity runs and hides. Writers and artists struggle with blocks, and the process of trying to amalgamate both sides of the writer’s or artist’s life can throw up road blocks so huge, not even Steve McQueen driving a Dodge Charger could bust through. But good news! There is a way to live in the best of both worlds and turn the tightrope into a lifeline. Or a river. That river from above, the joy Rumi is talking about.

I am preparing to teach at the University of Wisconsin’s Write-by-the-Lake—an in depth week of learning about writing followed by afternoons of writing itself. Writers experience the two sides: the learning (logic) and the writing (creative). I pack so much into the morning sessions, often times I look out and see dazed faces overwhelmed by the amount of information. I can see the unspoken questions. How will I ever do this? What? My character has to have a goal? A need? What was that about subtext? How will I ever remember everything? Aaaack—how can I write when I have to think of all this?

It’s easy. No kidding. One of the first things I tell my students and repeat throughout the week, there is one technique that is key to the tightrope transformation. Learn all you can. Prepare all you can. Soak it up like a sponge. Then use the magic word: Fahgettaboudit. It’s the way I prepare for teaching the week. It’s the way I’ve written three novels. Heck, it’s even the way I’ve run three marathons. It’s the thing I forget from time to time and need to remind myself. Over-prepare. Then let it rip. Fahgettaboudit. All of it. Forget about everything you learn, forget about yourself, forget about goals you’ve set, your desires, wants, fears.  Just write. Just create. Get lost in the joy of the process. Get in the zone. Jump in the river and let it carry you to places that don’t yet exist, places of immense joy and truth. Don’t worry about getting everything just right—don’t even try. You’ve studied, prepared. Trust the process. What you need, you’ll have.

My parting advice is to get a big, smooth river rock and metallic pen (or any bold pen of your choice) and write Fahgettaboudit on the rock. Place it in plain sight on your desk, so in case you do fahgettaboudit you will be reminded to fahgettaboudit.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, “Between the Lines.” She writes from a log home in the woods of southwestern Wisconsin that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com
  1. Barry Chessick says:

    Kathy, LOVE “Faghettaboudit”.

  2. Barry, thank you!

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