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The Writer’s Journey: Themes of the Spirit and Inspiration

Pub Date: Jun 2, 1998 | Columnist: Deborah Herman

"Style and structure are important to ultimate presentation, but that is what editing is for. Ideas and concepts need to flow like water through a running stream."

The Writer’s Journey: Themes of the Spirit and Inspiration

by Deborah Herman, Literary Agent, The Jeff Herman Agency

If you have decided to pursue writing as a career instead of as a longing or a dream, you might find yourself falling into a pattern of focusing on the goal instead of on the process. When you have a great book idea, you may envision yourself on a book-signing tour or as a guest on Oprah before you’ve written a single word.

It’s human nature to look into your own future, but too much projection can get in the way of what the writing experience is all about. The process of writing is like a wondrous journey that can help you cross a bridge to the treasures hidden within your own subconscious. Some people believe that it’s a way for you to link with the collective or universal consciousness, the storehouse of all wisdom and truth, as it has exists since the beginning of time.

There are many methods of writing that bring their own rewards with them. Some people produce exceptional prose by using their intellect and their mastery of the craft of writing. They use research and analytical skills to help them produce works of great importance and merit.

Then there are those who have learned to tap into the wellspring from which all genius flows. They are the inspired ones who write with the intensity of an impassioned lover. They are the spiritual writers who write because they must. They may not want to, they may not know how to, but something inside them is begging to be let out. It gnaws away at them until they find a way to set it free.

Although they may not realize it, spiritual writers are engaged in a larger spiritual journey toward ultimate self-mastery and unification with God.

Spiritual writers often feel as if they’re taking dictation. It is as though their thoughts have a life of their own and the mind is merely a receiver. Some people refer to this as “channeling” and believe disembodied spirits take over and write through them. Although I sincerely doubt that Gandhi or other notables have authored as many channeled books as people have been claiming, truly spiritual writing does have an other-worldly feeling and can often teach the writer things he or she would otherwise not have known.

Writing opens you up to new perspectives, much like self-induced psychotherapy. Although journals are the msot direct route for self-evaluation, fiction and nonfiction also serve as vehicles for a writer’s growth. Writing helps the mind expand to the limits of the imagination.

Anyone can become a spiritual writer. There are many benefits from doing so, not the least of which is the development of your soul. On a more practical level, it is much less difficult to write with flow and fervor than it is to be found by the limitations of logic and analysis. If you tap into the universal source, there is no end to your potential creativity.

The greatest barrier to becoming a spiritual writer is the human ego. We treat our words as if they were our children—only we tend to be neurotic parents. A child is not owned by a parent, but rather must be loved, guided, and nurtured until he or she can carry on, on his or her own.

The same is true for our words. If we try to own and control them like property, they will be limited by our vision for them. We will overprotect them and will not be able to see when we may be taking them into the wring direction for their ultimate well-being.

Another ego problem that creates a barrier to creativity is our need for constant approval and our tendency toward perfectionism. We may feel the tug toward free expression, but will erect blockades to ensure appropriate style and structure. We write with a schoolmarm looking over our shoulder aiting to tell us what we are doing wrong.

Style and structure are important to ultimate presentation, but that is what editing is for. Ideas and concepts need to flow like water through a running stream.

The best way to become a spiritual writer is to relax and have fun. If you are relaxed and are in a basically good mood, you’ll be open to intuition. Writers tend to take themselves too seriously, which causes anxiety, which exacerbates fear, which causes insecurity, which diminishes our self-confidence and leads ultimately to mounds of crumpled papers and lost inspiration.

If you have faith in a Supreme Being, the best way to begin a spiritual writing session is with the following writer’s prayer:

Almighty God (Jesus, Allah, Great Spirit, etc.), Creator of the Universe, help me to become a vehicle for your wisdom sot hat what I write is of the highest purpose and will serve the greatest good. I humbly place my (pen/keyboard/dicta-phone) in your hands so that you may guide me.

Prayer Helps to connect you to the universal source. It empties the mind of trash, noise, and potential writer’s blocks. If you are not comfortable with formal prayer, a few minutes of meditation will serve the same purpose.

Spiritual writing as a process does not necessarily lead to a sale. The fact is that some people have more commercial potential than others, no matter how seemingly unimportant their message might be. Knowledge of the business of writing will help you make a career of it. If you combine this with the spiritual process, it can also bring you gratification and inner peace.

If you trust the process of writing and allow the journey to take you where it will, it may bring you benefits far beyond your expectations.

Deborah Herman is a literary agent, author and the wife of well-known literary representative, Jeff Herman. She is a contributor to Jeff’s well-known Writer’s Guide To Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents (Prima Publishing). Look for details about a live Authorlink! chat with Deborah this fall.