The Most Important Writing Advice I Ever Received.

Posted on Posted in Be Enlightened., Monty's Letter.

Today_I_closed_my_eyes_by_ByLaauraa

 

{Monty’s Letter, April 1, 2015}

There are many schools of thought as to why we write.

There are a million more reasons we have as individuals. We write because we have a message we want to share with the world. We write because we want to be seen. We write…because we must. And regardless of whether we’re writing a letter, a poem, a blog post or a book, our intended audience often plays a huge role in the execution.

But should it?

Sophomore year of college, I was assigned an article to read by Peter Elbow, titled “Closing My Eyes as I Speak,” which argued for the importance of occasionally ignoring our audience when we create. While Elbow acknowledged that at first, writer-focused prose can be weak, or self-indulgent, learning how to skillfully ignore our audience at times can lead to our strongest writing of all.

He continues on to discuss how the pull of our imagined or intended audience influences our expression, and even our ideas themselves. We’ve all experienced this: on the page, in our speech—even in simple things like our clothing choices.

And while certain audiences draw the best from us, others inhibit us, and prompt us to edit away the heart of ourselves in what we’re creating.

Elbow argued on through comparing different educational models and various ways of understanding composition, but the heart of the issue is this:

“The value of learning to ignore audience while writing, then, is the value of learning to cultivate the private dimension: the value of writing in order to make meaning to oneself, not just to others.”

This idea of speaking with our eyes closed, ignoring our audience and creating from the heart is not merely self-indulgence; it’s freedom. We disconnect before creating, that we might connect on a deeper level than before. We communicate from our most essential, child-like selves apart from an audience to stay true, to stay vulnerable, instead of constructing walls we think our readers want to see.

The pieces I’ve written that resonated most deeply with readers were the stories I needed to tell myself.

Closing my eyes as I spoke allowed me to say the most important things.

~

Today is April Fools’ Day.

foolI’m not really a fan of the all the pranks (and I loved John Oliver’s take on it), but I often take the day to reflect on the idea of The Fool.

We often fear being seen as foolish, or naive, but the archetype of The Fool is one of newness, freedom, and beginning journeys with an open mind. The Fool approaches each situation without artifice, but instead with child-like excitement and wonder at all the possibilities.

This is how we should be creating.

When we polish and edit our work, we can be mindful of our audience and strive to connect our thoughts to other minds.

But when we create, this act of closing our eyes and opening our hearts to pour ourselves into our work unfiltered is invaluable.

 

This month, may you create with closed eyes and an open heart. May you be unafraid to play The Fool. And may you tell the stories that you most need to hear.

 

With love,

Kate Bartolotta, editor-in-chief

April 1, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 Photo: ByLaauraa
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