Sunday, September 28, 2014

Six Spiritual Principles for Fiction Writers

Spirituality in everyday practice -- dying, for instance, or writing, or anything else of importance  -- is (I dare to propose) not about dogma or ritual. It is, I think, all about being present without equivocation or precondition.

These spiritually guided caregiving guidelines, created to support those remarkable people like +Lorree Ratto who have deep experience in easing the passage of the terminally ill, are not mine. I stumbled across them online. Reading them made me think of the wisdom that accompanies all practical spirituality. They also made me think of my sister Cassandra (below) and the great gift my aunt +Martha Kaufeldt gave her before she passed. Finally, the spiritual caregiving guidelines left me wondering how the same principles might be adapted to, say, writing fiction.

The list of Six Spiritual Fiction Writing Principles below came out pretty much by itself, so I guess they're mine. I happen to be writing about Cassandra these days, an intriguing synchronicity.


1. Take care of yourself before you try to take care of the writing.

2. Focus on posing questions, not providing answers.

3. Write to be in the moment of the character, and you will be present in your moment.

4, Express your feelings appropriately in the real world (with "I" messages, not "you" messages). Do that with the people you love, especially during hard times, and it will be easier for you to notice how your characters feel like expressing their feelings. Let them.

5. Assume there is meaning in every experience. Seek that meaning out, side by side with your characters.

6. Understand that nothing is going wrong. Landmark Forum advises people to "Let go of the interpretation that there is something wrong." This means (among other things) writing authentically without prejudging your characters or their motives. What they want is what they want. Let them want that. What happens to them is what happens to them. Let that happen.