Friday, July 27, 2012

The Traditional and The Tao


by Maggie
I've been interested in this book since I first saw it at the NCW studio and finally picked it up at Wine and Words recently. Most of all, I wanted to know what Tao is, what it means.

The author, Ralph L. Wahlstrom, says, "Tao means 'the Way,' and it reflects a particular interpretation of the ways in which the world and universe work."

So, how does this apply to writing? The Tao describes to us a world of  balance and flow. As a writer, that sounds more restful than rigorous, more natural than forced. I feel I've been in this Tao place before and would love to get back there.

In this book, Wahlstrom describes twelve principles of the Tao of Writing:
  1. Writing is natural (our communication with ourselves and the world)
  2. Writing is flow (if we write without restriction)
  3. Writing is creation (we have the power and need to create)
  4. Writing is detachment (ignoring our inner critic)
  5. Writing is discovery (open to the world around us)
  6. Writing is change (revising, fine-tuning our writing)
  7. Writing is unified yet multiplied (expanding our original thoughts)
  8. Writing is clarity (understandable, as if we're talking with a friend)
  9. Writing is simplicity (eliminating our over-wordy darlings)
  10. Writing is personal (writing for ourselves, to know ourselves)
  11. Writing is universal (our dialogue with our inner and outer worlds)
  12. Writing is open-ended (our writing is changed by us, others, readers)
Traditional approaches to writing, of course, have their well-earned, time-honored place. But, consider what Whalstrom's book tells us: "Traditional writing instruction is the antithesis of the Taoist ideal. It is a painfully rigid, rule-bound system that has teachers and students imposing structure on ideas and forcing topics into structure."

I'm beginning to understand how this relates to me and what I might do to unlock the box I've stuffed my writer-self into. Not comfortable in here. My Tao writing will begin today, and my words will flow freely again, revealing the story to me as I float along. I will build the traditional damns, or rather dams, later on.

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2 comments:

Dean K Miller said...

loved this book, am a fan of 'The Tao' in general, not just writing. I saw an great example of this today at the Windsor fine arts fair.

The Tao is...write with it in your soul.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I think this is one of the reasons NaNoWriMo can be so useful...it forces us to write without restriction, ignore our inner critic, simplify, and simply create without overthinking. There should be a book called The Tao of NaNoWriMo. :D

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