The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Letting Go

And another note from a reader:

Dear Mr. Barnes,

Just a quick note.

I don't always read this list, because I have a lot going on, and some of what you have to say doesn't really connect with me.

But then you write, and I read, a message like this one. I haven't been reading the list of late, just letting the emails accumulate. Then I decide to read today's message.

For me, it is *all about* my inability to write fiction precisely because I cannot give myself permission to let go and write crap. How does the Lifewriting course address this? Could you please elaborate on this subject (the specific one of letting go, and the general subject of your email) on this list?

Thanks for doing what you do, and for writing these messages and sending them for free. Sometimes, they hit directly home.

Mitch S.


There are a thousand ways that the LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG addresses this. Some of them are conscious and intellectual (assignments, philosophical positions, examples of other artists) some are purely emotional (working with dream diaries, meditating and journaling) and some are actually physical/kinesthetic (the constant encouragement to exercise and move the body). Fear, especially fear of not reaching our potential as human beings—or fear that our potential is not sufficient to reach our goals—is crippling, and real, and affects artists and human beings at all levels of life. It is a constant companion. Learning to separate yourself from the “voices in our heads” is one of the most important things we can do.

The LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG came out of thirty years of searching for a way to get past my own blocks. I always sensed that however high or wide the social barriers might have been, my personal demons were far more damaging to my dreams. So I searched places that most writers don’t—Shamanism, hypnosis, martial arts, psychology, mythology, yoga…I literally couldn’t list all of the places I studied and struggled. And finally, I hit a kind of “critical mass” where I just UNDERSTOOD. And I also understood that the ultimate truths of these things cannot quite be put into words. If it could, wiser men and women than I would have done so by now. But what CAN be done is the delineation of a Path…a road. No matter what your block, if you work your way through the LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG, you will find yourself a different, better, healthier, more successful writer on the other side of that journey, and you will understand yourself, and your art, on a level it may currently be difficult to believe.

Just remember: your writing is an expression of your Self, and you are an expression of the divine. Remove your ego from the equation, and all the wisdom of the universe is yours. Learn to channel your energy and intelligence through the patterns of myth that have worked for twenty thousand years, and you join the community of storytellers who have helped men and women understand themselves and their lives through the greatest struggles imaginable. “Success,” however you define it, is only a by-product of the daily commitment to discover who and what you really are, and the ultimate meaning of your life.

The LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG is my expression of this. It is as close to truth as I can get at this point in my life, after receiving the wisdom of countless teachers, writers, and role models. Unifying the artistic and personal worlds holds the promise of enormous growth and phenomenal joy. Stop waiting. Life is not a dress rehearsal, Mitch. Don’t you deserve your dreams?

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