Conrad Busken Huet
This quote reminds me that writing in the first place is something you just want to do – and as such it shouldn’t be aimed directly at an audience. Liberty is available if you dare to let go of your always weary “Lizard Brain”, as Seth Godin calls it – the part that is always weary about the consequences. The Dutch journalist and literature critic Busken Huet (1826 -1886) apparently did well in writing freely what he thought, but by publishing it he created many conflicts:
Zijn doel, als van ieder werkelijk schrijver – van de lyrische dichter tot de man van wetenschap toe – was zijn gedachten in een zo klaar, zo suggestief, zo adequaat mogelijke vorm uit te drukken waarbij het gelezen willen worden een secundaire vraag van zelfbesef en financiële noodzaak is.(…) Deze denkmoed, onafhankelijk, candide en wereldvreemd is de motor van alle veroveringen in het rijk van de geest en was ook de motor van Huets kritisch vermogen. Maar wie die gave bezit en wie er zo mee woekert als Huet gedaan heeft, moet afstand doen van het verlangen in ongestoorde vrede met zijn medemensen te leven.
bron: Jan Romein en Annie Romein-Verschoor, Erflaters van onze beschaving.
Em. Querido’s Uitgeverij, Amsterdam 1977 page 728
My humble translation attempt:
“His aim, as that of any real writer – from the lyrical poet to the man of science – was to express his thoughts as clearly, as suggestive, as precise as possible, whereas the wish to be read is a secondary question of self-awareness and financial necessity. (…) This courage of thinking, independent, candid and otherwordly is the engine of all conquests in the spiritual world and was also the engine of Huet’s critical capabilities. But he who posses this gift and who makes it profitable as Huet has done, has to abandon the desire to live in undisturbed peace with his fellow human beings.”
I can’t help thinking about what it is I learn from a short internet article like this: McGill Tribune – MINDFUNK: Journal writing for health
It might be worth noticing as stated that just writing about how bad or good you feel doesn’t help much in solving issues in your life and that making a true effort to write your thoughts down can be beneficial. But “The process of writing about traumatic events or important events can have beneficial physical and mental health effects” makes me wiggle a little on my chair. Yes, the process of writing most certainly will make you go through feelings and memories so it must be true. But it is the acceptance and understanding, the dealing with a problem that is truly beneficial. Not the writing itself.
Besides, writing about a trauma on a moment in your life where you can’t handle it might not be such a good idea. So, naturally, before you have the wish to write things down there probably already started a healthy process of dealing with it, conscious or not.
What about talking, singing, fiction-writing, dancing, performing, drawing, meditating or what ever one can do to get into contact with anything beneath the superficial smile to the neighbor?
But ok. I blog about writing and I am sure writing a journal can have a good effect.
Shall we dance now?
(Via Time to Write)
I can understand why Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” is a bestseller. It is a inspiring book with a mission: To get people to write as a habit in an honest and spontaneous way. She advocates the practice of freewriting – that is to sit down and start filling up that white paper. Don’t think but trust yourself and let your pen do the work. In her opinion the best writing is done this way – messages from the heart – unfiltered by ego or too much intellect.
The book is divided into 64 short chapters and most are – as Natalie says herself – written in one session. In these many chapters she deals with many aspects and problems one might encounter when creating the habit of writing as a act in itself. It was interesting to read her approach to deal with the feelings connected to it – the voices inside of us. To beat one’s worst criticizer – oneself – is the key to good writing.
This approach of training writing skills by continual practice for the sake of practice might not be for everyone, but maybe it should be. I think that every writer or would-be writer at least should try it.
When words come quickly and my fingers barely can keep up with the stream of thoughts I usually don’t stop to look up a word in a dictionary. My English vocabulary isn’t too big unfortunately so I sometimes use words in three different languages. My own, that of the country I live in and English. In this way I keep the flow when freewriting.
When editing I translate the foreign words into English and this helps me to build a vocabulary of my own.
Sometimes these non-English words express something in a certain way that can be hard to translate and that keeps my writing personal.
I can’t think of anything better in my life than entering the full screen word processor with a whole hour ahead of me. My fingers are often itching to get started. It must have something to do with acknowledging myself as my aim during this hour is to write whatever jumps to mind and in that way listen to myself.
Back in the nineties a friend once told me after I wrote him a letter, that it seemed as if I had some wire connected to my brain as he could not imagine to get such a stream of thoughts written down. I am glad I can.
My impression was that in this mood I am just talking to myself in an endless stream of thoughts and reoccurring ideas and worries and yet something seems to work well. I think it is mainly because of the writing style, there is nothing constructed but on the contrary, I actually try to type before having thought the thought.
Yesterday I was advised to continue concentrating on this ‘freewriting‘ as I call it in order to keep writing from the heart. I was thinking of separating time to write on the story I have designed for me but taking it out of my daily writing habit might result in writing too formally and too intellectual. The idea that was put forward was to try to implement working on my story during my freewriting hour.
I think this is totally right, I hate it when my writings become too formal as most of my former writings in Dutch were. I started writing in English to prevent this so I better keep concentrating on it.