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Gwen Tuinman

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writing life

Dream Life, Creativity, Self-knowledge

Twelfth century philosopher, Ibn Khaldun wrote that, “God created man in such a way that the veil of the senses could be lifted through sleep, which is a natural function of man. When that veil is lifted, the soul is ready to learn the things it desires to know in the world of Truth.” What a beautiful and comforting thought.

His idea couples well with the commonly held wisdom of sleeping on it when faced with a critical dilemma. Instead of making an on-the-spot decision, we use the period of sleep to separate our emotion from the issue. Sleeping on it is more than allowing ourselves an overnight cooldown period. Science shows that during slumber, instead of powering down like a computer, our minds work to synthesize the information and scenarios we’re wrestling with.

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On Curiosity, Delight and Writing

“Survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention (…) The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”

Something about this quote from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has taken a hold of me and won’t let go. She’s written it by way of explaining her grandmother’s approach to enduring her husband’s years of careless living. The consequences of his actions inflicted much hardship, yet through it all, Grandmother focused on the positive, indulged her curiosities to stay sane, endure the bumpy ride.

Her approach to life is perfectly suited to a writer’s life. Our pursuits are sometimes put on hold due to life challenges, but for the most part, we push through difficult times and keep writing. To do this requires that we too pay attention and follow our curiosity. We infuse our imaginings with context, much like newly submerged tea leaves spreading their colour inside a cup.

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Increasing the Odds of Creative Flow

In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro writes about renowned author Joyce Carol Oates. Over breakfast, Joyce’s husband asked if she’d like him to read aloud from a newspaper review of her newly released novel. She surprised him by answering no. “If it’s a good review it will ruin my writing day, and if it’s a bad review, it will ruin my writing day. Either way, I intend to have my writing day.”

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