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Writing Open the Mind: Tapping the Subconscious to Free the Writing and the Writer
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I broke out of the straight jacket of "proper writing" and became myself once again after I read the book. But it was even better than what I remembered I used to be before, years ago... If I thought I had freedom of expression and creative abundance prior to business school, I was grossly mistaken. The book offered a wealth of exercises, which bent my brain this way and that way, startled and shocked me, and made my thinking so much more flexible, sublime. I discovered bold permissions, not restrictions, that let my mind soar. I got acquainted with the subconscious, the "shy forest creature," who is responsible for all that creativity we don't even now we carry in the back of our minds, and I made friends with mess. It is in the messiness of things that I've leaned to go into a trance where I could unearth the jewels of brilliance... I am so happy to have found this book!
This is not just another "how to write" book. "Writing Open the Mind" is a watershed work on the writing process, thoroughly researched and proven in the laboratory of Couturier's workshops, about how to gain access to our deepest and truest feelings and memories which are often inaccessible, buried under the mountainous tailings of our personal histories and cemented over with psychological defenses.
I've been to Andy's workshops and experienced repeatedly the way these exercises can trick the mind into revealing its precious ore. Time and again I was amazed, sometimes shocked, at what ended up on the paper before me after one of Andy's free-write exercises. Sometimes it was stuff I knew was there but could never seem to bring myself to write about. Or names and scenes and rich sensory detail I'd forgotten.
And the look on Andy's shining face, the beaming smile, the gleam in his eyes, spoke volumes about his passion for helping writers do exactly what I had just done. I saw that look repeatedly as my classmates accomplished similar feats of creative access.
Deep within the subconscious is where a writer's best material resides, and this is where good writers toil diligently, working, as Steinbeck said, "at the impossible".
I have two library shelves of books on writing, and Andy Couturier's WOM has taken it's well-deserved place alongside Nat Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones". (Maybe Andy will do a companion audio tape or video followup?)
But honestly, reading "Writing Open The Mind" got tiring after a couple of chapters. Not because it's not authoritative--it's very obvious that the author was having a joy writing it, and I believe that it's that kind of freedom that he wants to encourage and celebrate.
But to me, his writing style would have been better off as great examples of exploratory writing, rather than the main instructional text itself. It's like listening to a training speaker filled with so much zeal and verve that it takes him a while to get to the meat of things. While I'm amazed at the energy possessed by Couturier's writing, I'm the kind of person who needs straightforward instruction first.
So it's a "three" for me. Couturier could simplify things a bit for the most part, especially when he explains the fundamentals, then wow us with brilliant examples of acrobatic writing as inspiration. It would then have been perfect for me.
I'll be checking out a similar book and make comparisons.