Sunday Salon: Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life

The Sunday At one time early in my writing life I was told by a school acquaintance and writer that writers essentially had to be unhappy in order to write. Depression and vast quantities of booze, rather than being detriments to writing, were supposed to fuel it.

Of course, literary history seems to support the howling-mad and sometimes drunken genius — Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, etc. Analytical studies of creativity — a favorite is Donald W. Goodwin’s Alcohol and the Writer — also seem to suggest at least some validity to the idea that art’s inspiration often lurks within the dark tea-time of the soul.

With so much evidence at hand, and a natural predisposition to brooding, I felt drawn toward the murk. And while I’ve had a relatively successful career as a newspaperman, and have had some successes publishing fiction and with freelance writing, I’ve also wallowed in a mire of negativity.

Last year, however, at a moment when the mire was pulling me deeper into its darkness, and all my entanglements providing little to show as a writer, I checked out from the library Henriette Anne Klauser’s Write it Down, Make it Happen. I felt strangely pulled to this book, as if — agnostic that I am — a magnetic force were drawing me to the book.

The jaded skeptic kept wrestling with the open-minded reader, saying this book was just a bunch of New-Age hooey. Still, I read the book, or most of it, because, at the same time, my interest in Buddhism (not as a religion, but as way to change my attitude about life) had led me to read about Buddhism’s principles, and some of what I was reading in Klauser’s book seemed marked with Buddhist thought. And things were, indeed, happening — arguably coincidental — as I wrote through some of Klauser’s exercises, especially things on the goal list that I first wrote down: moving and marriage, for instance.

Now, a year later, I’ve again fallen into the mire, and yet, once again I’ve felt drawn to a book: Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life by Rebecca Lawton and Jordan Rosenfeld. Interestingly, when I read the description of the book, after following a link from Jordan’s blog, I had an ah-ha! moment: This sounds very much like Write it Down, Make it Happen, except it seems specifically geared toward writers. So I ordered the book, and have been actively been reading it and writing through the activities. I’ve been gaining insight into myself, and greater focus into how my writing life should transform. Up until recently, my idea of how I want my writing life to evolve has been pretty nebulous, especially because it has been sunk in a mire of negativity.

What’s the book about, you ask? It’s principally about how to a attract a creative life through positive thinking. But it’s not just thinking you’ll be a writer that the book proposes: it proposes action and resolve. It helps writers, or any creative person for that matter, focus on what they want by writing down their desires and acting on them. The book’s central idea is that a writer can attract the life he or she wants, and at the same time he or she can be un-mired from negative energy: negative energy, indeed, is the culprit that denies us our dreams. “If you picture things going badly,” the authors write, “you are pulling negativity toward you by expecting it.”

Editor’s Note: This is a Sunday Salon post. Check out Sunday Salon here.


8 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life

  1. This sounds like a great book. Sometimes I wonder myself, too, about the whole unhappiness/addictions make a great writer thing. But I refuse to believe in that. I’m one for happier uplifting endings anyway!

  2. I found you via Sunday Salon, which I”ve just joined. And wouldn’t you know I have just been thinking that it’s time to pick up my pen and get back creatively writing after almost a year of doing nothing? I will definitely look for this book, and I think link to it on my blog. Thanks so much for writing about it! And good luck with the writing, by the way….

  3. I’ve never tried any books of writing prompts or exercises, but I haven’t felt the pull towards creative writing very often. I think the idea of having a writing discipline, sitting down at a certain time each day and using writing to focus yourself and your ideas, would be very useful though. I also don’t believe that writers have to be depressed or alcoholics, although their life experiences are probably more interesting than mine 🙂

  4. Kim,

    Thanks for the comment. Writing prompts may not be for everyone, although I use them sometimes as gateways into writing. I found them immensely useful in journalism, too. When I started out at the newspaper, I happened to be reading a book on writing fiction — Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich — because my ultimate writing goal at the time was writing fiction, and I would work prompts in the book, and then I found myself incorporating the techniques I learned into my feature stories, which I believed strengthened and gave depth to my feature stories.

    I’ve also found writing books useful to learn how to break down stories and novels as a writer. My academic background was in history and English, but not in writing, except scholarly writing, which tends — and I’m generalizing here — to be analytical and interested in meaning more than technique. So, I found it valuable to read writing books written by practicing writers.

    The prompts in Write Free … I would call them guided meditations, writing to focus on what you want and how to achieve it.

    And your life experiences are immensely interesting. There is a short story writer — the name at the moment escapes me — who set his stories largely in a pub in his hometown. So, we all don’t have to go hunting lions or fighting bulls to be great writers.

    And, I’m not totally down on using mind-altering substances such as alcohol or even coffee/caffeine to link to the creative source — it’s anthropologically common — but not necessarily necessary.


  5. Great post, Todd. I hadn’t heard of these books and I think I’ll check into them. They remind me a bit of Julia Cameron’s The Writer’s Journey.

    Are you entering the National Novel Writing Month challenge?

    Happy Sunday!

  6. Thanks Karen. These seem to be great books.

    Don’t think I will be entering the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I’m not ready to rush draft a novel, just yet.

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