Monday, May 17, 2010


I had to lead a writing exercise in class today. While looking for ideas about an exercise to get people writing courageously (a vague, amorphous concept not conducive to easy ideas), I looked at this self-help book for writers called The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. While it didn't have any exercises that were appropriate for a class, I did manage to take enough inspiration to come up with a half-assed, serviceable exercise on my own.

One particularly interesting passage dealt with the role of anger in a well-adjusted person's life.

Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us.

"Blast him! I could make a better film than that!" (This anger says: you want to make movies. You need to learn how.)

"I can't believe it! I had this idea for a play three years ago, and she's gone and written it." (This anger says: stop procrastinating. Ideas don't get opening nights. Finished plays do. Start writing.)

"That's my strategy he's using. This is incredible! I've been ripped off! I knew I should have pulled that material together and copyrighted it." (This anger says: it's time to take your own ideas seriously enough to treat them well.)

I would add that when you're angry about your job, the anger isn't saying, "Kill your boss" (no matter how evil and narcissistic your boss actually is). It's telling you it's time to get out of dodge and work toward doing what you really want to do with your life. And it only took me about 4-5 years after first getting that feeling to act on it. This passage represents the thing I most wish somebody had told me 10 years ago.

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