By: Christopher G. Fox, Ph. D.
Why do we write? In many cases, the most obvious answers make the most sense. So, what are some reasons we write?
- Because we want to communicate or share an insight
- Influence and impact others
- Share experiences with our readers
These answers often suffice to inspire us or to reinvigorate our writing practice when we’re stalled.
In my own writing practice, however, I like to dig deeper. I want to dedicate time to reflect on the fundamental roots which anchor and nourish my writing. Such reflections make me a stronger writer. In times when inspiration lags or my motivation dips, they help me tap back into the energies that sustain my writing. I share them with fellow writers as a way to give air to the sails and help us through those doldrums.
I also return to these fundamentals simply as a reset, even when I am writing with ease and grace. From time to time, I am just coming back to the questions and the depth psychology of the writing practice, to root it more firmly, to stimulate growth. I recommend that all writers do precisely that, perhaps at the change of seasons, or at personally significant times of the year, part of each writer’s cycle.
What is it about late Fall?
For me, the turn of the year from October to November represents one such time. I’m not alone in this.
- All Saints’ Day in the Catholic tradition,
- Day of the Dead in Mexico and other Latin American cultures
- Samhain in the Gaelic tradition
- Halloween in popular culture
This time of year between the Equinox and the longest night of the year marks the end of the harvest. Something about this time of year inspires many to gather in their energies. As writers, we can make productive use of such times (whatever their meaning or actual timing for us). We can take them as occasions to go deep.
How to Map Your Heart Values
One such technique is the exploration of and mapping “heart values,” as I call them. I’d love to share my exercise with fellow writers. It also applies to other creators and people whose work requires creative thought and energy. Here’s how it works:
1. Sit in a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be interrupted, and relax.
You can use techniques, which are similar to the start of mindfulness meditation. Do what is comfortable. It doesn’t matter if you keep your eyes closed or open, and it doesn’t matter if you adopt a particular pose.
2. Take three to five deep breaths, in and out, and as you do so, begin to focus your attention on your heart.
I find it easiest to do this with eyes closed. In this case, heart is not literal. You can start to think of ideas such as center, open, non-judging, or feeling. The point is that you don’t want to rationalize your way through this work.
3. Begin to explore various concepts in your inner heart.
The ideas and names will emerge intuitively. Frequently, in this work, what comes to you first is what will work best. Nestle them in your heart and feel which of them evoke the strongest feelings of depth. Do this until you have four inner heart concepts. For me, as you will see below, the four were kindness, awe, insight, and language. You have many other options, love, color, light, faith, truth, and more.
4. Now, begin to explore energies in your heart.
Energies are the forces that bring your inner heart values into the world. As with inner heart values, you will know the right answers as you feel them. They trigger a strong sense of “yes, that’s it” and “yes, that’s me.” You may even feel them stirring you to act. Mine were calm, inspiration, surprise, and structure. How do you bring your deepest being into the world?
5. Next, think about the way those energies allow your inner heart values to show up in the world.
What do people see you doing, and what are the roots of what you do? These are the ways you manifest your heart values. Following along with my own exercise, mine were repair, creativity, play, and clarity.
6. Finally, take a few breaths and revisit the three sets of concepts you identified.
You can write them down on a list. While you can do this simply as words on paper, I find it helpful to make the exercise more visual, so I diagram them to see easily the way heart values are manifested by energies (of course, remember, I tap into the energy of structure to manifest clarity, so this may not be for you).
Writers, Try It Yourself!
It can reinvigorate you to remind yourself of the deep why behind your practice. It can also help you strengthen your sense of authenticity and connection with purpose. What are your heart values? You actually already know. Try it and see how it affects your writing.
Christopher G. Fox, Ph. D. is a writer and communications strategist living in Los Angeles.
He works with executives and subject matter experts to help them build reputations through messages, conversations, stories, and thought leadership.
His website, Syncresis® is a consultancy focused on thought leadership, patient communication, and content strategy. Its unique virtual operating model means that teams are purpose-built to the needs of a specific client and project.
He is also the creator of Kindness Communication®, which promotes the idea that the worlds we move in can be better places if we make kindness the core of how we operate.
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