Even though Le Guin acknowledges the difficulties of even discussing ideas and their origins, she offers these five elements, or patterns, which she sees as being necessary to produce great writing:
- The patterns of the language — the sounds of words.
- The patterns of syntax and grammar; the way the words and sentences connect themselves together; the ways their connections interconnect to form the larger units (paragraphs, sections, chapters); hence the movement of the work, its tempo, pace, gait, and shape in time.
- The patterns of the images: what the words make us or let us see with the mind’s eye or sense imaginatively.
- The patterns of the ideas: what the words and the narration of events make us understand, or use our understanding upon.
- The patterns of the feelings: what the words and the narration, by using all the above means, make us experience emotionally or spiritually, in areas of our being not directly accessible to or expressible in words.
To read more about these components and the necessity of them being balanced, click on the photo of Le Guin to open the article in a new window.
"That there is an analogy between mystical experience and some of the ways in which poetry is written I do not deny … though, as I have said, whether the analogy is of significance for the student of religion or only to the psychologist, I do not know. I know, for instance, that some forms of ill-health, debility or anaemia, may (if other circumstances are favourable) produce an efflux of poetry in a way approaching the condition of automatic writing — though, in contrast to the claims sometimes made for the latter, the material has obviously been incubating within the poet, and cannot be suspected of being a present form a friendly or impertinent demon. What one writes in this way may succeed in standing the examination of a more normal state of mind; it gives me the impression, as I have said, of having undergone a long incubation, though we do not know until the shell breaks what kind of egg we have been sitting on.
To me it seems that at these moments, which are characterised by the sudden lifting of the burden of anxiety and fear which presses upon our daily life so steadily that we are unaware of it, what happens is something negative: that is to say, not ‘inspiration’ as we commonly think of it, but the breaking down of strong habitual barriers — which tend to re-form very quickly. Some obstruction is momentarily whisked away. The accompanying feeling is less like what we know as positive pleasure, than a sudden relief from an intolerable burden. … This disturbance of our quotidian character which results in an incantation, an outburst of words which we hardly recognise as our own (because of the effortlessness), is a very different thing from mystical illumination. The latter is a vision which may be accompanied by the realisation that you will never be able to communicate it to anyone else, or even by the realisation that when it is past you will not be able to recall it to yourself; the former is not a vision but a motion terminating in an arrangement of words on paper."
Indeed this is a lot to consider! But I understand what Eliot is getting at and must agree that sometimes the laying of the proverbial creative egg is quite a relief and often unexpected.
The best we can do as our minds are incubating the egg is to fuel ourselves and be ready to record the event!
So, my challenge to you is to write in a dedicated way in your journal at least ten minutes each day. And I dare you to set the timer for a longer period of time! What would happen if you wrote for thirty minutes? Why don't you try it? Try it instead of watching TV. Try it instead of getting on Facebook...
I will close today with this:
"Because if you're trying to write and you have unlimited time, you can procrastinate an unlimited account, but if you have limited time, you rush to the page trying to get something down in the little bit of fragment of time that you have, and you may write a great deal that way."-- Julia Cameron