Welcome to the launch of the Write to Discover blog.
We’ve been around since 2015 when we were known as “Healthy Writing,” and more focused on tips, traps and techniques to help make your writing crisp and clean. As we’ve spent considerable time in workshops with writers of all levels of expertise over the past few years, we’ve discovered that the writer’s heart yearns most to tell its stories. The most common struggle for writers is finding a way to get those stories out and onto the page.
Thus, we’ve adjusted our brand and our approach accordingly as Write to Discover, a concept we discovered from Flannery O’Connor, one of the most notable writers from the American South and one of our personal favorites when it come to storytelling. O’Connor wrote in a letter to a colleague, “I have to write to discover what I am doing.” She believed the act of writing itself reveals the mystery of the world around us and that all souls explore that mystery through storytelling. And, as humans, it’s innate for us to tell stories.
Elie Wiesel, in his “The Gates of the Forest,” wrote: “God made man because He loves stories.”
Graham Swift, in “Waterland,” wrote: “Man – let me give you a definition – is the storytelling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker buoys and trail signs of stories.”
We also embrace the wisdom and writing philosophy of Brenda Ueland, clearly articulated in her book, “If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit.” First published in 1938 and never out of print since then, her opening paragraph describes a writing class she attended for three years, comprised of aspiring writers from all walks of life – high to low, rich to poor, educated and not.
“This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”
We agree. Regardless of age or station in life or perceived ability to write, those who want to write profit from coming together in a supportive environment to write, discover, and share stories with each other. Ueland says “this creative power and imagination is in everyone and so is the need to express it… It is very tender and sensitive, and it is usually drummed out of people early in life by criticism (so-called ‘helpful criticism’ is often the worst kind), by teasing, jeering, rules, prissy teachers, critics, and all those unloving people who forget that the letter killeth and the spirit giveth life.”
Too often as aspiring writers we find ourselves frozen by the sight of the empty page or a blank computer screen. And, the culprit is often those unpleasant memories of the teachers and others along our evolutionary paths of discovery who sneered, jeered, marked up with a red pen, or harshly critiqued what we had to say and how we said it. As a result, the words come out timid and anemic, if they come out at all.
But, as Ueland observes, it’s not the person nor the power of their stories that lack. Rather, we all suffer from the overlays of our schooling in technical structures, sentence diagrams, grammar lessons, fear of punctuation, and more.
At Write to Discover we focus on the story and the elements of its structure rather than the grammar book. We love Elmore Leonard’s take on this: “I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
We believe the storyteller in each one of us needs to be set free with encouragement to seize the power of words and the primal flow of the narrative river. Just tell the story. Editors can and will fix the technical stuff later.
And, we’ve discovered that a happy outcome happens when the storyteller confidently takes control: technical issues seem to work themselves out along the way.
Writing to discover can never produce stories that are timid or anemic because the process puts the story at the center of the work.
“No writing is a waste of time – no creative work where feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good. It has stretched your understanding. Even if I knew for certain that I would never have anything published again, and would never make another cent from it, I would keep on writing.” This is Brenda Ueland’s discovery.
Our blog is on the side of the writer, the speaker, the storyteller who has a tale to tell and needs to tell it with clarity and grace. We will still publish tips, traps, techniques, ideas and interesting items to help make the writing crisp and clear. More importantly, we hope we help inspire you to tell your stories and “fill you paper with the breathings of the heart” as William Wordsworth described the art and purpose of the writer.