What creates the transition between a completely uninspired and unengaged space, where one is forcing themselves to write, into one that is inspired, limitless and free? Where the structure becomes effortless and natural, indeed the structure can write itself, emerging from the writing. Why is it that this can happen so suddenly and surprisingly? What is it that causes this shift?
This is what I want to explore in my workshops; ways to access inspiration. I want to create a space where people can explore different approaches to writing (or in fact any creative act) and free up their thinking about what works for them and why.
I attended a couple of Jenny Kemp's generative writing workshops years ago. It was around the same time that I was involved as a mentoree in a creative development she was undertaking- where she was turning a script she had written onto the floor with actors, dancers, a composer, filmmaker and designers. I had just finished studying theatre making, and I felt very blessed to be able to observe her creating theatre from her own text, and to take part in her writing workshops. I found her process for generating text fascinating and so much fun. She created a space where writing can be a mediation, connecting with our inner impulse, but yet gave constant interruptions to this meditative space, pushing us into different realms with our material and never letting us get too comfortable or stuck. Her workshops almost provided a structure for a complete work.
I also attended a Sue Ingleton's shamanic writing workshop when I was at the VCA, and that was really cool. We warmed up through exercising our chakras, removing ourselves completely from the idea of writing at all, turning ourselves into empty vessels, and then at just the right moment, Sue opened us up to other stimulus, and we went for it. I wrote a piece of writing in this workshop which later was reworked to become a duet performed by Helen Morse and dancer Matt Cornell in 'Duets for Lovers and Dreamers' at fortyfivedownstairs in 2010.
Both of these writing workshop experiences had a profound effect on me, alongside my experience training in theatre, mediation and movement in Indonesia with Bengkel Teater Rendra, and from other great teachers in improvisation such as Al Wonder, and many years of yoga training and teaching. From these diverse yet connected lineages, it feels natural to develop a process for writing from the mysterious, inner space; the same space that dance, painting, music or any creativity comes from. There is structure, certainly that is important, but more essentially, and before structure, there is inspiration, a connection with something wide and vast, which moves us to create free of any judgement. And in approaching text in this way, we create more and more interesting and relevant forms of writing- Yay!
So how do we get there?
A couple of things which I think help prepare us for the inspired writing space are:
a) writing every day- this is really important, if you are serious, write everyday, even if it is just a short time. And not just creative writing or work writing but also anything else which comes up- to do lists, shopping lists, lists of swear words, sexual fantasies, and even better, connecting with your deepest motivations and writing freely from there. This is writing for no one else to see, just for you, unless you want to show someone. There are some great books around about this, to help you establish writing as a practice- try Julia Cameron (e.g. the artists way) and Natalie Goldberg (writing down the bones).
b) Let yourself write badly- yep, bad writing is fine and good and important. Let yourself write badly because it releases your from the burden of expectation. Who cares if you have a deadline and all you can write is crap. Just keep going and don't listen to the nagging voices of doubt. Write badly. And then write even worse. Make a point of it. You might be surprised to find that some of your best writing comes from your worst.
c) Remember your body. Writing is a physical act. Move, take breaks, walk, dance and keep your attention connected with your body, or parts of your body as you write.
Try this exercise: Bring your attention to your toes. Wiggle them. stretch them, luxuriate in the feeling of them, let yourself get turned on by them. Take your pen in your hand, and listen carefully to what your toes have to say. Start writing, keeping your attention with your toes. See where it takes you- let yourself leave your toes completely if you wish- just write, but as soon as you come to a stop, come back to your toes- listen again. What do your toes have to tell you? Let it be bad.