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Creativity-Portal.com Creative Careers in the Arts Series
Naomi Rose Interview : Page 5 of 6

Book Developer & Creativity Coach Naomi Rose

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Q: Facing the blank page can be a daunting, even terrifying experience. How do you help writers get beyond that fear so that they can create a poem, book, or play?

A: Oh, that is such a good question. And so universal. So universal. People tend to think "It's just me," but believe me, it isn't. Every client who has come to me has come with this, at least at the outset. And I am both deeply sympathetic and able to guide them through it. Why? Because I know from experience what this is like, what's under it, and what will open this up.

I could write a whole essay on this, I find it that fascinating! But I'll contain myself and be relatively brief.

The fear of the blank page, in my view, is a combination of two or three things:

(1) Painful and/or shaming experiences about writing earlier in life — at home, at school, on the job, etc. — any situation where some external standard or agenda was shown to be more important than the tender innocence of the person wanting to fill that page with writing.

(2) The attendant self-doubt that comes with closing down our natural selves, in defense against a critical or uncaring authority (i.e., when we are no longer in touch with our natural being, it is very hard to create on the blank page). And

(3) Fear of death. The equation of "the void" with nothingness, and of "nothingness" with no existence, no worth, no self. The blank page then becomes a proving ground, a taunt, an impossible challenge, rather than, "Ah, look: a fresh canvas for me to play on."

The truth is that I do help writers get beyond that fear. And once they are sufficiently out of it, they do go on to create astonishingly beautiful writing, beyond what they knew to give themselves credit for until it came out of them. But I don't want to mislead by suggesting that this is an instantaneous process. It is gradual, sometimes it is slow, it takes a lot of my and their listening to their suffering, to finding out the antecedents of that suffering, and to bringing their aliveness, creativity, and original beauty into the foreground so that what is real in them supercedes what they have learned to suppress and fear. I had one client who ended up writing an amazing book, full of wisdom and beauty and incredibly helpful information, who spent the first three months with me just getting through that fear. She was grateful that I did not push her to "just write," or "get over it." She really needed to wade into those, for her, traumatic waters of fear-of-self-expression, until she realized that she was already floating, and that if she just picked up her legs and splashed her arms about a bit, she would be swimming.

Really, I could write a book about this subject! Perhaps I should! (There is, actually, a section on it in my book called Starting Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Attending to What's Inside You.) I don't want to give a fast-food answer.

Honor that the fear exists. Know that it's not your true nature, but likely a response to something that happened a long time ago connected with revealing yourself and not being received, or well received. The primal fear is that this is what's going to happen again, if you are foolish enough to show yourself on paper. (We think that words in print are irrevocable. But clearly, they are not.)

Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Be aware that a trauma is in place. And know that with consistent, gentle listening to yourself and deep, healing breaths, gradually something will soften. And something inside you will want to be said.

One day you will be driving, or showering, or taking a walk, or working on a quantum-physics problem, and there it will be: an arrival of something that wants to go onto the page. Well, this is the creative process in motion. When it comes, welcome it, and write it down. Don't scare it off by demanding that it turn right away into 300 pages. You are dealing with a shy creature, like the cat in my office. Be glad when it comes and sniffs your hand. Gradually, there will be more and more sniffing, and more and more writing. Eventually, the blank page will be a mere moment's blip of fear. And then something in you will relax, and you'll remember, "Oh yes, something in me will arise, if I am attentive and friendly inside."

It really works. But give it time. And honor the process. It can't be forced, but it can be encouraged into bloom.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical "Writing from the Deeper Self" consultation? You may give the specifics of what happens in a typical session, as well as the time commitment you need to do this work, any financial costs to the writer involved, etc. Be as specific as you can.

A: There is no "typical" consultation. It's not a one-size-fits-all process. Listening to the person is the essence of how we begin. If I tried to walk you through it, you'd see two people in facing chairs, one me and the other the client, and then a lot of listening on my part, and a lot of sometimes-halting, sometimes-passionate talking on the part of the client. As I understood what s/he was really saying, really wanting, really dealing with, I would ask questions, enter into the experience with her or him, and begin to ally myself with their deepest intention, all the while picking up cues about who they are, how they take in information, how the creative process works in them, and so on. Granted that I have a great deal of expertise in writing and putting books together, but the consultation tends to be fairly intuitive. This is really hard to walk a viewer through.

I can more easily speak to the logistics of the process. Writing a book is a real commitment. I tell people that it will usually take at least a year of their lives, and often more. (Not a year or more of writing for hours a day, but a year or more of writing in between living an often demanding life.) That's why our relationship is so important — that we understand each other, feel a resonance about the subject, the writing process, and one another — it is a long-term relationship! (I happen to like those.)

In the first session or two, I explore with the client the kind of structure that is most likely to work for them, for me, and for writing and completing the book. Some clients find coming once every two weeks most fortuitous. Others like to come once a week, depending on their schedules, budget, and urgency of writing. Some come once a month, but I don't favor that unless they are extremely self-motivated and -disciplined, as the momentum can get slack.

All that said, and gasps of "a year or more!!" aside, writing a book is a commitment that can give much more back than one might expect. It's a relationship to the book, to oneself, and to me, of course, that adds value, strength, endurance, light, creativity, joy, newness, reclamation, and healing to the writer's life.

Financial costs to the writer: These of course would include payment to me for each session, and for any work I would do on the manuscript itself. Other costs might include, depending on the life and lifestyle of the writer: childcare and time off from work (to have writing time); a place in which to write; perhaps an occasional writing retreat, whether structured or just time off at a retreat center or a B&B.

Q: When you're feeling stuck, blocked and blah, how do you recover and dance with the Muses again?

A:Yes, another great question. Of course, it happens to me. I think it happens to everyone at some time. I'm blessed, at this time in my life to have many ways of regaining the Muse. And they all really lead to the same place: connection with the deeper Self, and at least the respite of the ego's fears and demands.

I pray. I know some beautiful, beautiful Sufi prayers, and also Jewish prayers. And really, the prayers that seem most potent are just the expression of what's in the heart. So I need to be able to get to what's in my heart. If I've been worried, or too busy, or too "in my head," all those will temporarily block, or veil, what's in my heart from me. So sometimes direct prayer will do it. And other times, I need to do something in order to be present enough to pray.

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