Get It Write

“I’m interested in doing your workshop but the idea of writing intimidates me…” 

I’ve heard this often. It seems the very act of picking up a pen and relaying thoughts and feelings can become burly & threatening, like a school bully who syphons power by frightening others. Sadly, very often that ‘bully’ has been frightened themselves and when they can access help or understanding, there is the potential to deactivate the charge.

So how do we make sense of why the idea of writing is scaring so many people?

Here lies my answer. For many years, traditional western education has hijacked writing and twisted it into something unnecessarily menacing. Something that needs to be done ‘correctly’. Something that will result in a mark or grade that is judged by an outsider – a source of authority. This leaves very little room to embrace the wayward and unruly workings of our human minds. This leaves absolutely no room to celebrate unconventional structures such as:

Outside. Bounce. Bounce. That ball doesn’t never ever stop. STOP. bounce. Bounce.  In my brain. Slam dunking my words away from the train of thought I am riding. With my head out the window. Like a dog. Sniffing. Ears flapping, listening. Absorbing worlds of. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.

In recent years the foundations have been shifting, but in 1979 that wouldn’t have earned me an ‘A’ anywhere, especially not in England. In my early education, creativity was shackled with strict limitations.  Apparently we were only allowed to light up the right side of our brains (the creative centre) in nursery school or art class. Even then I have recollections of the teacher removing the brush from my hand and painting over my canvas, in a concerted effort to show me how to ‘improve’.

It’s not a shocker that twenty or thirty years later many people cower from the prospect of trying something just for the hell of it. Letting words out of the enclosure. Giving sentences permission to roam lawlessly. To soar high. To float gently.

In reality, it is not the act of writing that scares us but the external judge, who currently occupies our inner landscapes, ruling the domain with unmerciful glee.

What do I say to those prospective participants – the ones who are drawn towards the workshops but who feel intimidated?

Face the bully! 
Straighten your shoulders! 
Stick your tongue out! 
Hold up a shameless finger and kick the gate open!

There are acres of gorgeous ground to cover. Wasted wooly woodlands filled with creative possibility. Magical truth tunnels. Whispering story trees. And the written word is waiting to lead you on your own guided tour.

So don’t write to please ‘them’ – they have their own issues to tackle. Don’t try and get it ‘right’ because ‘right’ is a moveable feast.

The solution is delightfully simple.
You guessed it… Write To Be You.

Start here! Start Now! Share a spontaneous response to this post. Can be anything… a personal account, a fictional story, a tangled net of words. Share anonymously if that feels safer. Work up to declaring your name. Reinvent or reconnect. Find freedom through your words…

6 Responses to “Get It Write”

  1. Sophie James
    April 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Everything you say is so true. When our critic is stronger than our technique or our skill at something, we often abandon it, because we're scared of the floundering, the 'not knowing', and being exposed. Because somehow we've learned that this is ''wrong'. I heard this expression yesterday – 'you are the expert on you'. Quite helpful to remember.

  2. kim trauth
    April 24, 2012 at 4:50 am #

    Great post! It's timely for me as I'm trying to find a way to articulate my ideas about writing, art, storytelling and imagination as it relates to teaching, students, and myself. I think far too often young students aren't creative because in school, no one lets them. There isn't time, they have do produce something before the end of the day to hand back to parents. Something. Something in the adult world gets lost when relating info to the kid world. Kids can do it, but they're boggled down with getting the right answer, finding the right letters, decoding the words, that they aren't allowed the time nor experience to make it happen. Just jotting some thoughts down quickly…as requested. 🙂

  3. Rory Green
    April 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Thank you for this, Sophie! Lovely quote!

  4. Rory Green
    April 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Wonderful to see you here, Kim! Thank you for being brave and jumping in. As a teacher you hold a lot of insight and wisdom in regards to this topic. It seems that a big divide opens between the 'adult' world and the 'kid' world (as you say) and creativity can often fall into that abyss, in favour of 'academic' learning. We need to, as a society, help teachers climb down into that divide and retrieve the missing pieces. You did a fantastic job of articulating your thoughts… keep at it! 🙂 and visit again!

  5. kim trauth
    April 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Thanks Rory. I think it's hard for teachers because teachers aren't really allowed to let students explore their imaginations. The powers that be (often times including parents) want results, and want them now. Perhaps it's indicative of our instant gratification society. Teachers need to produce results – show that the students are learning and this is often heavily measured by objective testing – not a great way to measure creativity. Allowing imagination develop and be nurtured takes time and experiences. It needs to be simmered and explored. This is not as valued by he-who-makes-the-rules as the correct answer on a STAR test. Which leads me back to why it's so hard to write just to write. Perhaps that part of us that feels comfortable just sharing, just writing, just creating is under-developed. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but it's a thought. Anyway, this is one of the reasons I think your blog is so great and so important. Even though I'm not writing as much as I like, I do read the prompts and really think about what I might write. You've clearly hit upon something I'm compelled to write about and am struggling through myself as to how to strike that balance. 🙂

  6. Anonymous
    April 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I just opened an old trunk that used to fly with me in the autumn to my boarding school 3,000 miles from home, and return with me in the late spring. My 25th reunion is a month away. I will be flying back to my old high school, but not with that old trunk or any of it's pictures, letters and journals that I stored in it all these years. It was fun to sift through and be transported back to the mid 1980's, and even better to throw some of the old things away. I glanced at some journals and cringed at their contents. Even though I could give that teenager a lot of advice from here, the 40 plus side of things, I wouldn't want to. All the drama, and tears and mistakes and learning from failing got me to where I am today. And the truth is, I like who I am. This is the me I was hoping to be. Maybe even better than the one I pictured. I saw on one page that I had written in broad strokes "I love my life. Thank you mom and dad." How glad I am to see that I was grateful back then, and that I was happy. It's easier to remember the sad times. On another page I'd written, "I love to write, even if no one else ever sees this. I love the freedom I have on the page and the comfort that this notebook gives me." And so I continue to write. – Karen H.

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