LIFEWRITING is about taking a totally new approach to approaching your existence: being the hero in the adventure of your lifetime. What if no one is coming to rescue you? You’ll never heal your relationships with dead people, it is too late to go back and create a new past.
What if we are all there is? This moment all we have? Well…we’d better stop waiting for that ship to come in and by God ROW OUT TO MEET IT.
Lifewriting is different from any other writing focus, because it is for people willing to “judo” their lives and careers: want to be a writer? Great! Write about characters dealing with your own existential issues, fears, hopes, and dreams. And as you solve their problems…you solve your own. And whatever you have learned to solve problems in your PAST…becomes fodder for creativity in your stories. Create the link between the inner and outer world, and then kick butt.
The Lifewriting group is our proving ground, where we can cluster people who see their lives and careers as process can gather and support each other.
“You guys are wonderful! ALL of your suggestions are fabulous. I’ve been sleepwriting today and I LOVE it!”–Yvette R. Murray
“I LOVE that term `sleepwriting'”
“I think your lovely wife coined that phrase. But it’s been amazing. Thanks for the suggestion. ALL of your suggestions are awesome.”
“Bless you. We love writers SO much, and are building a tribe of conscious artists who want to transform their lives and the world!”
I love waking up and having a conversation like that. Let me unpack it a bit.
- I want to know, every day: who can I help? How can I help…and have fun in the process? Oh, cool! Yvette is having a good writing experience, she’s excited. Whatever she is doing to express excellence in writing on ONE level is about writing…but on another deals with all of life. If I can help people become excellent in ONE arena, I can show EVERYONE how to be excellent in all arenas, by applying the same notion. Happy, healthy people open their hearts and become loving. If they are grounded, they are strong enough to be safe, and THAT leads to expanding their sense of self, and embracing the world.
- “Sleepwriting.” T uses this term to mean the process of mulling over story issues while falling asleep, waking up, or even in dreams. Step back a bit: writing is problem solving. You are simply addressing a particular set of problems dealing with word choice, structure, character, plot, research, on and on and on. Problems. Some can be solved in sixty seconds, some take weeks of research or months of planning (it took me about three YEARS to crack the structural problems in “TWELVE DAYS”. It is taking about a year to crack the structure of “TRAVELER”, my current novel.)
To a huge degree, intelligence is problem solving. WISDOM is knowing which problems to solve. I say to solve the problem “How can I live a balanced, healthy, successful, joyful life?” is a damned fine problem. My own version of this demands balance of body, mind, emotions, and finances. Spirit is implicit in those. The beautiful thing about this is: what if there IS no spiritual dimension? You end up “only” getting health, energy, success, happiness, love, and money. Aww shucks, that SUCKS so hard, doesn’t it?
Anyway, given that…what is “sleepwriting” and how can you use it?
“Sleepwriting” would be using the “Hypnogogic” state, that place between sleep and waking you experience first thing every morning, and last thing as you go to sleep at night. It is the place where you can manipulate dreams and fantasies (I…well, I love generating certain fantasies that kinda get my motor running in the morning, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.)
This is a moment when you have connection between the conscious and unconscious minds. And the unconscious mind is VASTLY smarter than the conscious, which is like a bucket compared to the Pacific. If you can formulate your problems clearly, and fantasize about them before you go to bed, and tell yourself you want a solution in the morning, you will often find that when you wake up, you actually have a solution!
I’ve done this countless times with stories. For instance, I’m working on logistics for a script that takes place in 1870. I need a context where black and white men would mingle on relatively equal terms in a very specific way. Well…based on research, New Orleans had Creole cat houses where this happened. But…that’s SOUTH of where I want to set this section of the story. I’m in Missouri, dammit.
I went to bed at night with my mind zig-zagging between locales, not seeing any elegant way to do it. Dammit, was I going to have to lose energy in my story by changing locations? Or sacrifice an important interaction? My brain was buzzing.
WHAT did I want? A great script, that will sell quickly and be PRODUCED. The current idea is excellent. A structural issue has arisen. So…I want to solve that problem, one way or another!
WHY? To tell a great story with high entertainment value and a kickass subtext. Joy, contribution (“why can’t I see this movie TONIGHT?” people have said when I pitched it), money, improving skill, playing for position.
HOW? Focus on the problem, go over the “known knowns”, define the “known unknowns”, ask my unconscious for an answer, and go to sleep. Turn the problem over and over in a playful way as I spiral down into sleep.
What happened? When I woke up in the morning, it hit me in the face that the answer was right in front of me all the time. No, I won’t say what it was. But I will say that when Mohammad can’t go to the mountain, sometimes the mountain can come to Mohammad. Ahem.
You can do this with ANY problem.
Question: how can I have a happy life?
Answer: make my living doing something I love.
QUESTION: What do I love that I can earn money with?
Answer: Writing and teaching.
Question: What writing project sounds both fun and potentially profitable?
Answer: There is this idea called MISSISSIPPI SHUFFLE…
Question: What is the best way to write it, one day at a time?
Answer: define characters, themes, scenes, conflicts…whatever I know, “low hanging fruit” style, using the Hero’s Journey to organize structure loosely. What do my main characters want?
Question: How can I create an interaction between two characters in a position of relative social equality, to give them a chance to size each other up?
Answer: (After research) such interactions took place in New Orleans.
Question: How can I manage the logistics so that the story functions directly, not in a zig-zag of repeated imagery?
Answer: Well, I’ll keep that to myself.
Can you see how the big “what?” (living a happy life) motivates “why” on every level? That cracking every problem generates joy?
Its all “vertically aligned” with my core identity and goals. “Fractal goal setting” would be a way of looking at this. And once you learn to do it with storytelling…what is there to stop you from doing it with your body, your relationships, your finances? NOTHING. Focus is focus. Skill is skill. “Master one thing, master ten thousand things.”
Or as Jerry said to me long ago: “Once you master anything, you know how to master anything else.”
Beautifully said. Starting with your ultimate goal (Joy) back up to the things that bring you this, and be sure they relate to your deepest values. Then move to the long-term material goals that support this, and then the medium goals, then short term. What do you need to accomplish THIS WEEK, and then what are the most important 1-5 things you have to accomplish TODAY?
Then…do that thing. Most important for writing? Solve this one problem. How? “Sleepwriting.”
This stuff all fits together, people. Neat and clean and one step at a time.