Monday, November 5, 2007

Writing From the Heart

That is the title of a great book written by Nancy Slonim Aronie. It is one that every writer should read. I believe it will change you in many ways and not just in your writing. You see it is a spiritual journey that Nancy takes you on in both her book as well in as her workshops. Nancy has been a writer for many years as well as a commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Nancy does not believe that anyone can really teach writing. What she does believe is that she can provide a safe place to write because if one feels safe than they can achieve many things. And as someone who has attended a few of her workshops I certainly can attest to that.

I read Nancy’s book first which takes you on a spiritual journey of what it means to be a writer. In the book she shares her own experiences as a writer but more importantly as a human being. She includes many exercises throughout the book which are really good and fun. It is in no way an intimidating process. I for one can say that writing workshops/classes have always greatly intimidated me. As a writer I never felt worthy enough to attend a workshop, probably because I didn’t feel like a true writer! But what exactly makes one a writer? I believe that we all have stories to tell, stories that have the power to heal us. When it comes to writing do you write from your heart?

In her workshop yesterday I sat and listened to her describe the difference between the brain and the heart and how it relates to writing. She described the brain as the computer and the heart as the place where you feel emotions. If you just write from your head or rather your brain you may be getting the information down on the page but it will be devoid of meaning, of inspiration. It will be missing the poetry, the rhythm that our emotions can create as we bring our words to life.

The other unique thing about her workshops is that you are given a writing exercise which is a lead in sentence, you write for about 15 minutes and then return to a circle where you have the opportunity to share with the group your creation. Everyone is given the opportunity to give feedback to each other. But it is all positive, that is Nancy’s rule. By the end of the day, there was much laughter, and many tears. I felt bonded to those in the room with me listening to stories of loss, and even of love. Stories of tragedy and of triumph. But what resonated throughout it all was the emotion being conveyed through each person’s words. Everyone seemed to be sharing parts of themselves that may have been tucked far, far, away. I have had this experience with Nancy’s workshop on more than one occasion and am still amazed at this environment she creates where we all feel safe to write. Where we all feel safe enough to write from our hearts……

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