Kaiyum takes us through the sometimes daunting prospect of writing…
You’d like to write a book or article. Yet you just don’t get round to it.
And there are always so many reasons for not getting started.
I don’t have the time
I don’t know enough about the subject.
Who would want to read it?
Who would publish it?
I’m not really a writer.
I haven’t the foggiest how to start writing.
See how negative thoughts can get in your way before you’ve written a single word!
Maybe you recognise some of these:
Maybe when I’m retired …
How would I develop the story-line?
How could I make the subject interesting for a wide group of readers?
What do I actually want to say?
Maybe I should first take a writing course …
This article will provide some insights to help you get down to writing that book or article.
No two books are alike
There are so many different types of books, from fictional to historical novels, technical handbooks, professional textbooks, travel guides and romantic short stories. The points in this article will apply equally well whether you want to write a ‘real’ book, are a manager writing a report, or just want to write an article for your company’s personnel magazine. As you read this article, just fill in for yourself the type of writing you have in mind and adjust my suggestions accordingly.
Begin at the beginning
A book is a collection of words which express ideas and concepts. (Illustrations may also be suitable in some cases.) These words are tangible expressions of your thoughts — assuming you do have some thoughts! The key word here is ‘expression’. Its process and how we can support it is what we will examine.
No two writers are alike
Everyone differs in their style of writing. Let’s first distinguish between:
- the actual language
- the physical process of writing
We will discuss language later, but for now let’s look at the physical process of writing. It is essential that you discover how you write best. Do you:
- record your words as you speak aloud, to be transcribed later by yourself or someone else?
- make lots of notes, perhaps just scribbled here and there, which you or someone else later transcribes?
- write down your thoughts as they come to you and organise them later on?
- keyboard them immediately?
It makes no difference what the method is so long as you discover what works best for you.
It is also important to be aware of the optimum circumstances which promote your creative flow. Would that be:
- immediately after getting up in the morning?
- in the middle of the night?
- during the weekend?
Finally, it’s helpful to know which other factors play a part in supporting your writing mood:
- do you need to be alone in the house?
- do you need a certain type of music playing in the background?
- do you like a pot of coffee at hand?
- do you work best to a deadline?
My own preference is early in the morning before the world starts claiming my attention, preferably away from home, and I write using my laptop and any notes I may have written on scraps of paper at odd moments in preceding days (frequently in the middle of the night!).
“What helps you to get down to writing?” the journalist asks the famous author.
“An empty fridge and an empty bank account,” is the immediate reply.
“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’ll always be right”
These famous words of Henry Ford indicate how you influence yourself. At the start of this article you saw a list of excuses for postponing writing. If you harbour such negative thoughts, there may be little purpose in reading any further! Only you can change your thinking. If expanding your boundaries and breaking through self-imposed limitations in order to get your book written matters to you then start by formulating your thoughts positively.
Feeling you have something useful to share with the world is a crucial motivator in the writing process. When you feel an inner urge, a spring of words bubbling inside you, words which want to get out, then please respect this ‘call of Nature’ and express those words!
Of course you can enrol in writing courses. You can also spend lots of time preparing ‘to do’ lists and a structure for the text. You can even insist on a schedule of so many pages or words a day. You can establish all sorts of conditions like ‘if it rains, and after I’ve done the shopping, and let the dog out and helped the children with their homework’. But the one essential step is: start writing!
You already have ideas, you already have words … that are jumping up and down, eager to be expressed. Start writing! Write them down. Open a new file and just write until you stop writing. Because at a certain moment you will naturally stop writing. And at that moment you will feel content and complete within yourself. It may be simply that you become tired and start making all sorts of typing errors. Whatever it is, you will then discover your personal ‘stop signal’.
You will also discover that a moment comes when you experience a certain ‘emptiness’: the inner ‘container’ of words and ideas, driven by your creativity, has been emptied onto the page or into the computer file. That’s when you’ll go off and do something else until you next feel the stimulus to write again. While you’re doing that ‘something else’ the container automatically refills itself. Some writers are afraid of the empty place they arrive at; it makes them feel insecure, they think they’re blocked and so feel a need to do something to remove that block. This emptiness is actually an inherent part of the creative process. You cannot force the creative process, but you can learn to cherish and respect it with patience and gratitude.
Creative emptiness arises in order to be filled up anew; it’s a natural process. You don’t need to torment yourself trying to come up with information, words and pictures. Your role is to receive and express, trusting the inexplicable wonder of this creative process. Think of yourself as an interpreter for what happens deep in your mind, creating the space for your intuition to tell you what you need for your next work session. The more you learn to enjoy this process, the more clearly and frequently the creative signals will arise for you to follow.
These creative gaps are sometimes described as writer’s block. Yet they are more like a layer or filter between your conscious mind and its infinite sources of inspiration and ideas. Everything has its own timing. Long-distance runners recognise the wall, a barrier or blockage they break through in order to access a further source of energy often called second wind. If you’ve ever participated in a brainstorming session then you’ve probably experienced this: an initial session sourcing a number of possible solutions followed by an uncomfortable break in the flow. But if you hang in there, waiting patiently, relaxing, concentrating lightly on the question or theme, there comes a moment when a second stream of new and much more interesting solutions makes its presence felt. There is a deep and inexhaustible source which we just need to respect and trust – it will always respond, given time and our willingness to be open and listen attentively.
Next month we can go even deeper into the subject: Keep on Writing…
Kaiyum took sannyas at the Osho Academy in Sedona in 1998 and nowadays lives in Eefde, The Netherlands. His current work is based on three primary activities, connected by the common theme of doing things differently. He coaches and trains the art of presentation. He works as a therapist in complementary healing, where he emphasizes restoring the biochemical balance to support self-generation of the physical body. Most recently, together with his beloved Indra, he created ‘De Doorbraak’ (The Breakthrough), a heart-based approach to communication for children of all ages to help them change how they experience their world, putting an end to bullying at school. And then the man also cooks … perfectpresentation.nl – davidbloch.com