The Dance of Structure and Creativity
Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. I knew this intellectually, but as usual, it was actually experiencing this for myself that drove it home. I took on writing my first book, a non-fiction, self-help book titled Conscious Calm: Keys to Freedom from Stress and Worry, knowing it would take perseverance and a ton of work. That was all true. I also found that in the process, I learned yet again about the interplay between the structure and the creativity as well, all couched in faith.
Those of us who write take a leap of faith every time we sit down to the keyboard, or to the paper and pen. It’s faith that something is going to move through onto the page. It may be garbage for that day, but at least it might be something to work with. If we really are in a creative process, we can’t insure what the thing will look like once it’s done, nor would we necessarily want to. We do need faith it will create itself. And yet, for this kind of non-fiction writing, I needed a structure to start with.
One of the most time-consuming aspects was coming to an outline that made sense. For a non-fiction book in a field crowded with information about stress, this one needed to be different, and worth both writing and reading. For me that meant using the integrative approach that I know can help people shift out of old internal habits into new ways of being and relating with themselves and others. But it couldn’t be jargony language either; the world is filled with enough of that.
These decisions meant figuring out how to distill information from various areas including psychology, neuroscience, and both western and eastern wisdom. All that then needed to be put it into an order that would make sense and have the best practical use for readers. Otherwise – why bother?
It was an act of faith for the year that I worked on the outline in my spare time, to assume that a logical sequence would eventually come into sharper focus. There were many versions. It was a dance between staying rigorous, and allowing the creativity of trying different approaches. What would be too much information? What would be the best step-by-step explanations and guidance? Structuring an outline ended up being a deeply creative process, while one of the most intense parts of the writing of Conscious Calm.
Structure and creativity end up being a lot like breathing in and breathing out. We can’t just breathe in all day long. Nor can we just force the writing with discipline alone. We can’t breathe out all day long either – or simply meander over to the writing desk whenever the Muse announces herself clearly. When we find a rhythm of structure along with the allowing of creativity, we can take deepest breaths both in and out, and oxygen will flow through our writing as well.
Dr. Laura Maciuika is a clinical psychologist and teacher. She specializes in helping people transform their lives from feeling stressed and stuck to experiencing new levels of calm, joy and success. Laura is the author of the book Conscious Calm: Keys to Freedom from Stress and Worry. She has over 20 years’ experience working with adults individually and in groups in settings including clinics, companies, universities, and workshops. Connect with Laura’s at her blog http://consciouscalm.com , at www.lauramaciuika.com , on Twitter @lauramaciuika and Facebook.com/lauramaciuika . Download a sample chapter and the TOC of Conscious Calm at Facebook.com/consciouscalm.
Synopsis: When you are stressed and worried, looking for lasting stress relief can be overwhelming. There is so much information it’s hard to know where to start and what to do. Conscious Calm makes it simple. This book focuses on the internal patterns of stress that often go unnoticed, and shows you how to undo those patterns so that lasting calm becomes possible. Conscious Calm reveals 9 Stress Secrets that keep us stuck in stress, and 9 Conscious Calm Keys to experiencing stress relief and peace of mind. Integrating science and wisdom from both East and West, Conscious Calm explains the inner stress traps that so many of us fall into, and provides a step by step, practical guide to lasting calm, inner peace and greater happiness.