Listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you

image mosaic

Listening to color

Several years ago I took a singing lesson from a Sufi singing master, and he told me there is no such thing as tone-deafness. “Singing is 90 percent listening. You have to learn to listen.” If you listen totally, your body fills with the music, so when you open your mouth the music automatically comes out of you. A few weeks after that, I sang in tune with a friend for the first time in my life and thought for sure I had become enlightened. My individual voice disappeared and our two voices became one.

Writing, too, is 90 percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you capture the reality around you, your writing needs nothing else. You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows. Listen to the past, future, and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body, not only your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.

by Natalie Goldberg (born 1948)
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (1986)
image – qthomasbower

Listening with your whole Body

Are you listening and “with your whole body” this month? Between Script Frenzy, National Poetry Month and National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), creative writing in April can feel like a total body experience! 20,000 Script Frenzy participants are diving into creating their 100 page scripts, the Academy of American Poets has a wide list of special offerings, and participants of NaPoWriMo are writing a poem each day all month long. A few people in my Twitter stream have talked about doing both Script frenzy and NaPoWriMo, on top of school and other responsibilities. That’s a lot of focused writing and reading!

That’s also a lot of Internet-enhanced creativity. Besides the good stuff that can be found on each of the the sites I link to above, there are thousands of us who know there are thousands like us, reading and writing our hearts out – or getting a contact high from the possibility. In the 64 years since ENIAC was first unveiled, we’ve gone from one “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer,” the giant computer “brain” used to help develop the bomb, to bazillions of us typing away at our personal computers.

I hear dancing fingers.


On Creativity

All month long I’ll be on the lookout for more interesting excerpts that are related to writing and creativity. Expect to see quote snacks from scripts and poems, and writers writing about their craft.

Here are seven favorites from previous posts:

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4 Responses to “Listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you”

  1. starla Says:

    I love this post!!

    the hum from underneath me
    express the love given to thee
    while the heart is aching
    with sorrow and pain
    but the swish of the wind
    washes it away
    know the difference between
    your breath and your life
    for though they seem the same
    your life is the light
    your breath is the force living within
    that moves you to become
    at one with it
    by: Starla Smith

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    I thought you would!

    Thanks for sharing your poem.


    Elizabeth, I knew you were still out there doing the work of your heart and being the spiritual assist that you are. The able one. and remember counting me and myles in the census of 1990?????

    and my first words written on this morning were:

    Precious moments swirl swirl swirl in the wind of our hearts. (like the Sufi)

  4. E. A. Able Says:

    Ann, believe it or not, I was thinking about you recently! I thought of trying to find you on Google, but couldn’t remember your last name. 1990? Wow, that was worlds ago. We bumped into each other again about 12 years back, but didn’t reconnect after that. My life got complicated for a while there…. but here you are again! I’m blessed! I’ll be in touch!