June 2, 2009

THE WAY OF THE WRITER: Holistic Writing

I probably should have written about this BEFORE I wrote my "The Weight of the Writer" post, because this post actually serves as a prelude to many of the thoughts expressed in the "Weight of" post, and also expresses why the "Weight of" post is important.

The term "holistic living" or "holistic health" comes from the word whole. "Complete". I don't need to explain too much, but it basically means that if part of you is unhealthy, all of you will suffer. At least, that's the definition I'm sticking with. I makes sense, though. If you stub your toe badly, you will have a hard time concentrating on, say, multiplication tables even though your toe is what's hurting, not the part of your mind that works out mathematical equations.

I believe that if you are a writer, you need to be aware of your whole self. You need to view yourself holistically.

My friend Mike Maihack (an incredible and funny cartoonist) is at the Gideon Film Festival and Media Arts Conference with me. Together, we're two thirds of the graphic novel/comic book track, and we're teaching some seminars. Mike ended his webcomics seminar with the following:

"Exercise! A healthy body has a healthy mind. A healthy mind creates awesome comics (in theory). Awesome comics make the world a better place."
I believe this to be true.

There are three areas of our lives that we need to be aware, and in control of, as we are setting out to be writers or artists or filmmakers or, really, any creative artist:

Mind. Body. Soul.

This isn't anything new. This isn't rocket science.

Our mind is important because it controls our body. It moves our fingers and our mouths and feet, etc.

Our body is important because it's the series of bones and muscles and whatever it is that holds our guts inside.

Our soul is important because its the part of us that connects with other people and our Creator and our morality.

If we do not have balance in these areas in our life, we will not only be disconnected with ourselves, but we will be disconnected with our art/creative impulse. If we ignore our soul -- our spirit, or katra or whatever you want to call it -- we run the risk of being hollow and insincere and when you are working creatively, sincerity is what connects. If we ignore our minds, we run the risk of becoming intellectually flabby. If we ignore our bodies, not only do our bodies become slow, our minds do as well.

Now, is it possible to be a fat writer? Sure! I am! (Don't plan to be forever, if you see the afore metnioned "Weight of the Writer" post . . .)

Is it possible to be morally bankrupt and paint well? Heck yeah. I know some artists who are amazing, but for money they'll draw anything.

But if you are not considering these areas of your life, you will not be as effective as you could be.

This isn't just about writing -- this is about living. It's not to say you MUST be perfect. Or even that you CAN be perfect. But at all times in our lives we should moving, as C.S. Lewis says, "onward and upward". Closer to God, toward better relationships with other people, approaching excellence in our craft . . .

~ Ben

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