Greg Wolfe on The MA

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    GREGORY WOLFE in Christianity Today, March 2008


  • The Master's Artist is a group blog for writers united by the blood of Christ and a love for language. We come from different backgrounds, have different theological outlooks, and are interested in a wide variety of genres and artforms. The opinions expressed belong to their authors alone -- and you're welcome to share yours.

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September 11, 2009


one billion daleks

Simon - a few thoughts about technique. From the perspective of dalek psychology, your emerging writer's block is due to the increasing dominance of your feminine mindpole, reflected in your propensity to describe things more than analyse them (a function of your masculine pole). This circumstance was most floridly demonstrated in your (now deleted) TMA post about paying for a parking spot, that described a sequence of actions in truly immense detail!

Such description of data is a function of your open-minded (holistic) feminine pole, and there are bountiful examples of this f-pole function to hand via the careful observation of reality. In contrast, your narrow-minded (focused) masculine pole organises and analyses data to produce information (speculations). The two poles then work together (entanglement) to test the veracity of that information, and if validated, it becomes permanently acquired as knowledge (insight).

Now from here, your writing is very high on description (f-pole), but rather low on analysis (m-pole), plainly indicating that your poles are somewhat out-of-balance. As a result, there's often little 'meat' in your writing ... and I imagine you might have an inkling of this. So, I'd suggest that you maybe try balancing your poles ...

A method that I employ for polar balancing is to publish online reviews of music and movies. I listen to a CD, or watch a movie - I then think about why I like / dislike it, and set about articulating my thoughts in prose. This activity engages both poles ... you describe what you're evaluating (f-pole - the plot of a movie for example), then you formulate your opinion (m-pole analysis). Lastly, you justify your opinion with a supporting rationale (polar entanglement). Through such contemplative study you acquire insight, not only about the subject under scrutiny, but also about your Self - what 'presses your buttons', and why.

I've found this approach to writing to be most enjoyable and enlightening - and, as a happy side-effect - even of some worth to others (I've had one-liners from my favourable reviews published as those 'testimonials' you see on movie posters and the like, and was recently flattered to receive an email from BBC Scotland asking permission to use one of my reviews in a program they were making about Scottish music).

But the greatest benefit is that your urge to write will start flowing again, and you'll find that the block will crumble. Then you can return invigorated to your core writing project ... like you say "Techniques can only be useful in so far as they focus you on the writing". Focusing on something you care about (like that Joni Mitchell CD you mentioned a while back) is a most effective technique for stimulating your writing, for the simple reason that the subject is something you already find to be inspirational in some way.

OK then,
All The Best!

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