Living On Purpose

I love teaching what I call Fearless Writing, though as a class it offers nothing in the way of advice about strong sentences, or believable characters, or compelling storylines. In fact, in a four-hour workshop, the students will do virtually no writing whatsoever. Mostly, they ask questions and I give answers in the form of stories. All the stories are stories about writers (usually me) who forget to care what other people think about what they’ve written, forget to wonder whether they’re good enough, and in so doing, return to the source of their creative power. But as I said, students do not learn any craft. That’s because all the craft in the world is useless to me the moment I begin worrying what other people think about what I’ve written or whether I’m good enough. Craft can’t solve that. I can, however, choose to move my attention from these fearful questions to the creative question; “What is most interesting to me today?”

I teach this class because most people – including me – forget they have the power to move their attention from one question to another. It sometimes seems as though questions take hold of us the way a storm takes hold of a day. The moment I begin wondering whether anyone in the world is interested in what interests me, my sky is filled with storm clouds. They arrive so quickly and completely, I often do not notice what summoned them. They are simply a fact of nature, and now I must wait out the rain and thunder until some capricious creator dismisses them.

It’s as if I’ve forgotten I am an author. I alone decide what storms or sunshine inhabit my worlds. On the blank page, I can turn darkness into daylight as quickly as a thought can turn. So too those clouds of misery poisoning my day. There is no real difference between rewriting a sentence and removing doubt. Everything is thought. To write is to think on purpose, and to apply what I learn while writing is to live on purpose.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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