How understanding the third eye chakra will improve your writing

Getting inside our characters’ heads can feel second-nature to us writers, and oftentimes, we gravitate to stream-of-consciousness or interior monologues. This can work – as William Faulkner showed us with The Sound and the Fury (although the novel’s success was delayed… and I found it unreadable, but I digress). However, we need to ask ourselves what we want to accomplish with this kind of invasion to our characters’ minds.

Showing our readers all the troubled, angry, tired, sad, fragile, and destructive thoughts in our characters’ minds is most definitely a way to connect them with and help them empathize with characters. And the way we do that can mean success or failure.

After we’ve gotten clear with our characters’ voices – as discussed with the Throat Chakra – we can explore their Third Eye Chakra, which is the seat of intuition. What do they know, without a doubt? (We typically think of this as a “gut-level” response to life; however, it starts here, in the Third Eye Chakra, a somewhat ethereal part of us that defies “rational” human thought.)

Whether our characters trust their intuition or not is one thing, and the way we portray that intuition is another. We run interior monologues all the time. This is how we sort out life. We run through a multitude of scenarios, trying on all the “what-ifs” for each one.

What our characters think, HOW they think (stream of consciousness, more understandable broken thoughts, or pretend conversations), and what they do with those thoughts informs not just our readers about how to interpret their stories, but us, the writers of those stories, as well.

How do your characters’ thoughts align – or not – with their desires and motivations, and what does this tell you about their ability to make decisions?

How understanding the sacral chakra will improve your writing

 

After we make a thorough and in-depth investigation of our characters’ backstories by way of understanding the Root Chakra, we can then begin to explore each character’s understanding and relationship with herself. A common practice to show readers a character’s view of herself is to use interior monologue – to take our readers inside the character’s mind.

Another way to accomplish this is by understanding the Sacral Chakra. It can shine a light on a character’s self-awareness by focusing on his relationship with others (how he relates to others based on his impression of himself) and on his ability to be creative, which can take many forms.

Give thought to how your characters support, interfere with, and reflect each other’s most vulnerable parts, including their ability to create.

How do your characters reflect each other through thought, action, and dialogue?

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

I’m very fortunate to live in downtown Portland where I can walk to Powell’s City of Books on a whim and surround myself with floor-to-ceiling shelves of the written word – room after room, level after level. The smells, the sights, the subdued verve in those walls – simply being around all those books – feeds me in ways that are hard to explain.

During my most recent visit, I noted – once again – a particular feeling that comes over me when I’m there. It was a hard one to locate… and I’m still not sure I’ve been able to pinpoint it, but to help, I went back to John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and the closest I can define this feeling is a conflation between his words vellichor and anemoia.

vellichor | n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores,
which are somehow infused with the passage of time—
filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read…

and because Powell’s also sells new books…
and because books alter time, move us around in time…

anemoia | n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known

It’s a kind of FOMO, but more erudite. More sublime.

This experience got me to thinking about emotion in writing and how essential it is to suturing readers into our stories, getting them to invest enough to keep turning the page. Engaging readers through emotion is the cornerstone of story. Simply telling readers what our characters feel is not enough. The character and emotional energy of a story can fall flat with mere telling: Maria was sad.

Readers want to be taken on the ride. They want to experience the emotional shifts within scenes and they want to witness the emotional transformations characters undergo throughout the story arc. Sometimes the most of subtle emotions are the most pivotal to a character’s evolution and describing them can be a challenge.

How do you know when you’re reading a well-done emotional description? Can you think of a good example? Please let me know in the comments below!

Why you aren’t writing – Reason #5

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This week I’m writing about the one thing that I think stops more people in their tracks when they really want to write more than anything else: FEAR.

We humans are full of fear. About so many things. And that’s okay. BUT… if we really want to write, we have to overcome it. And this isn’t a one-time deal. Our fear is something we have to keep revisiting over and over and over. The fear dragon is that big.

Aside from all the usual fears we might imaging (I’m not good enough, I’ll never make any money doing this, People won’t like what I have to say, People will get angry about what I have to say, People will think I’m weird/crazy for thinking that, etc. etc. etc…), I think there’s one fear, above all others, that stops many people from honoring their compulsion to write.

FEAR OF EXPOSURE

It’s HARD to acknowledge some of thoughts we have knocking around inside us, let alone share them with strangers, and maybe even more so with people who know us.

It takes a lot of courage and a strong sense of self to own our thoughts and words. The pain of not writing has to be greater than the pain that comes with the judgments (or our imagined judgments) of others before we can move through the fear and just write.

Natalie Goldberg says: “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to talk about. Be willing to be split open.”

And In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote about cold cocking the angel in the house (that voice in the head that constantly chastises) with her ink well. Do it! Those voices are the fear. Cold cock the voices. They’re the enemy.

It’s the only way.

Making the most of fallow writing periods

http://survivaljoe.net/blog/californias-fallow-farms-first-stage-of-food-crisis/

http://survivaljoe.net/blog/californias-fallow-farms-first-stage-of-food-crisis/

We all have something of unique value to offer the world, and the thought of anyone’s vision, wisdom, or story being trapped inside them hurts my heart. But while I’m invested in helping people remove blocks so they can, find and use their voices, and tell their untold stories, I also know there’s real value in quiet periods.

I’ve been through one recently myself. It all started in early October when I was surprisingly ejected from my living space at the time. I immediately moved into a new space that would be, I had hoped, a more medium-term situation so I could begin to feel settled.

Three weeks after moving into that space, which was the downstairs of a house, owned by the woman who lived upstairs, I left for almost three weeks for a conference in Mexico, preceded by some time in Portland. My goal was to come back from the conference all fired up about life and my work and to get back to it all.

What happened was something quite different, and in the past three months, I haven’t written much of anything, aside from a couple of blog posts in December and an email to my list of followers.

I came home to chaos in my living space (both physically and energetically); the newish relationship I had started in September ended. Then started, then ended again; I realized the living space was bad for me on all levels, so I began looking for a new space, found it and recently moved; hustled for work to pay my bills; and tried to make friends in my new town.

I started to have doubts about teaching other people how to move blocks so they can write when I’m not even doing it myself. But then I accepted the fact that fallow times are necessary. It’s all about recharging our subconscious while we tend to other things. To life. And while we’re tending to life, we’re filling our subconscious, which will show up for us time and again when we finally get back to the writing.

I like to think of my writing practice as I would a relationship. Sometimes we need to step back, give it room, let it breathe. Too much attention can stifle, even kill the love, the flow.

When I hit a fallow writing period, like the one I’ve had lately, the hardest part is not knowing when it will end. And experience has shown me that there isn’t much I can do about it.

I’m happy to say I’m coming out of mine now. Even though my new studio is still in a state of chaos, just having my own space lets me think and feel, and when I can do this, I can write.

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When you have a fallow writing period, how do you come out of it?
Do you do something intentional, or does it take care of itself?