True, there’s no “I” in “team,” but in “writer,” “I” is practically the focal point. In “writing,” well, “I” appears twice.

We are at the center of the creative process, pushing our stories and poems, our discourse and creativity, into the world. Which, of course, is all well and good when our writing is going well and we feel good about not only it, but about ourselves. But what about when we hit a wall and nothing comes? Or when what we produce is not so good at all?

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, provides an answer to this in her talk for Ted. She discusses how she can move forward with what might possibly be her greatest success now behind her. Her ideas encourage us to move beyond an ego based responsibility for the creative works we author and into an appreciation of what we have contribute to a divine collaboration.

Perhaps we took too much of mysticism out when we demystified writing as a process?


3 thoughts on “The “I” in “Writer”

  1. You raise an interesting question here. I watched Gilbert in the TED talk a while back, and her thoughts were well worth the time.

    I think, however, that writing being a mystical process is a bit dangerous. I am quite sure there are plenty of writers who give up on great ideas because they don’t feel that inspired drive to write. I believe Bukowski wrote a poem about something to that effect (if you don’t always feel the glorious drive to write, you should never write anything).

    Writing, however, is like any other skill or talent, it takes a lot of work to hone in and even more work to keep at. Explaining the writing process doesn’t detract, it makes writing realistic.

    After saying that I want to re-iterate that you make a good point, that removing all ‘otherness’ from writing is concerning. In the case you’re bringing up here (if I am understanding it correctly) we are thereby demystifying ourselves, or something like it.

    Again, I think you bring up a good point, and I look forward to reading more insights from you.

    1. Thank you for providing the counter-point here. And I appreciate that you put such effort in to do so respectfully. Thanks x 2!

      To clarify: As a writing instructor, I’d be out of a job if teaching process weren’t important. And I wouldn’t teach it if I didn’t believe in it. In fact, as a writer, I had to discover firsthand how immersing myself in process,form and technique and forgetting about the product was really liberating. I’m not suggesting that we just sit around and court the muse and hope that inspiration strikes!

      What really resonated with me was what Gilbert expressed about the writer’s ego in the creative process and how it’s harmed by either becoming grandiose or being smashed to bits, depending on the success of the work. I know it’s a stretch for those of us (yes, I mean me, too) who don’t subscribe to any theology. But I do imagine (yes, imagine!) that there is divinity in the creative process.

      And after hearing this lecture, I like to imagine with Gilbert that there’s a collaborative “other” — whether it’s a muse or God or just some imaginary friend — who shares the weight of the responsibility for the creations. Sure seems like it will also make the writing process less isolating, too!

      Suddenly, all this imagining is making me feel very JohnLennony. 🙂

      1. Well, it is easy if you try…

        I realize in reading your response that I may not have carried my point as well as I’d like to. I agree with you completely that Gilbert’s insight should be considered. I likewise agree that there is something (whatever that something, depending on what you do or do not believe) that accompanies us when writing, the collective unconscious if you will, carrying some of the burden.

        I think what I disagree with (and I use the word without any malice) is the idea of a fluffy, happy angel whispering in our ears. I know this goes against my previous statement, but the ‘other’ that comes with us in the solitude that is creativity seems more like a foxhole friend than an flax haired muse (I am acutely aware of the cynic coming out, and I do apologize).

        Thank you for clarifying your post, my point, and thank you also for your kindness.

So whaddya think?

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