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Writing That Comes From the Source

Look to your source.  Find your truth.

These simple words seem, to me, to lie at the heart of what it means to write with confidence.

They’re an English version of an idea, a value, a mantra that comes from Hawaii.

Nana i ke kumu Look to your source, find your truth.

This is one of the values that is taught, explained and shared by Managing with Aloha coach Rosa Say.  Although Rosa is teaching the application of these values in business, for managers, and leaders, they have a universal application. And for me they’re at the heart of simple, truthful, responsible writing.

Rosa explains the concept further in her book, Managing with Aloha: Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business:

There is an inner wellspring inside all of us, and we will go to this inner well to get healthy.  We find reason.  We find heart.  We find soul.

Nana i ke kumu are words of encouragement, telling us to look inward to this source of well-being as our constant and our truth.

Nana i ke kumu Look to the source you have revealed, and let it inspire you.  Let it energize you.  You will not hesitate and you will not falter.

I see so many of the ideas and emotions that have been discussed here in these words.  Thinking about courage, and finding the words to express our deepest held values.  Talking about ways that our words can make a difference.

I could write an essay, or a book (maybe some day) on what this means for your writing, and how to get closer to writing that comes from the source.  For now, some simple suggestions:

Name your values. Find the plainest words you can for the things that are most important to you.  Get used to writing about them, breathing life into them each time you write them down.

Cut the writing clutter.  Sift through the bits of text that are irrelevant, that aren’t adding anything of value.  Cut to the chase.  What’s the most important thing that’s left?  What’s the most important sentence that you want to share?

Recognise your physical reactions. When you write (or read) something important, something that really matters to you, that’s connected to your source - you might notice a phsyical reaction.  Goosebumps.  A shiver going down your spine.  The hairs going up on the back of your neck.  Pay attention to them.  It’s a signal of something signficant.

Find the places that remind you of the source. Most of us have places (real, physical places) where we feel a sense of connection, or inspiration.  A place that seems important, significant, vital. A place that makes us feel more of who we are.  Being aware of those places will help you work out who you are.  (More on sense of place from Rosa here.)

Connect to that place when you need to write something important.  Imagine yourself there.  Feel yourself standing in that place, feet firmly on the ground.  Ground yourself there.  Drop down from your head, down, down, to your feet firmly planted on the ground.  Write from that place.

Spend time at your well. We all have a place, or places, where we go to drink in: care, respite, inspiration, beauty, love.  Breathe it in.  Drink deeply.  It’ll give you the courage, and confidence, to write from that place of connection, and truth.  To write your values, your way.

It’s you taking responsibility to write what matters: your truth, your values, your story.

And it’s you taking heart.  Blowing away the whispers of ‘shoulds’. Lifting off the burden of external expectations.  Smiling as you write from the source.

You will ho’omau (persevere) with renewed strength.  You will be warmed by the Aloha of your own spirit.  You will continue.

Quotes are from Chapter 17 of Managing with Aloha: Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business:  Nana i ke kumu

You can read more of Rosa’s teachings at Managing with Aloha Coaching, her Talking Story blog, and regular articles at Joyful Jubilant Learning

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  1. Brad Shorr says:

    Joanna, Thank you for this spiritual reflection on writing. Your suggestions could actually make a wonderful warm up exercise. I think I’ll give it a try.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Marketing Is Now A Two Way Street Leading Up

  2. Scott says:

    Sounds to me like your saying “find your writing voice,” but more than that, listen to that voice.

    I very much enjoy writing, didn’t know that until recently. I’ve struggled A LOT to find that voice. After reading your article, I am comforted. I think, the important thing that I’ve been missing is, “Find the places that remind you of the source.”

    Very Inspiring! Thanks!

    Scotts last blog post..I’m Gonna Get It

  3. wilson says:

    Joanna, this post is really inspiring enough and I was wondering it would be better if I called it, “Writing That Comes From The Heart!” Just my 2 cents opinion lol

    wilsons last blog post..The Hair Care Tips 3: Your Hair Also Need Some Hair Massage As Well!

  4. Bo says:

    Yes, finding place is key. I find that my thoughts turn more easily into words when I leave a more sterile environment and seek a place of inspiration. I carry my notebook everywhere for that very reason. I don’t have to go to a country retreat or in the middle of a desert, though I would love those opportunities, but I often stop at local parks,or a bench overlooking a lake, even the indoor botanical garden when weather is inclement.

    That’s not to say I do not call up these places in my mind when I am unable to leave my house, but I find the real thing so much more conducive to writing. While this probably doesn’t apply as much with the more technical of writing, it is an imperative when writing creatively.

    It would be good to be able to bring the connections I get from the natural world inside so that I could do my writing anywhere. It’s an idea I need to cultivate - so now you have me thinking about that. Always a great thing when someone motivates you to evaluate and re-think. Thanks.

    Bos last blog post..The Red Maple Tree Vs. The Gusty Winds

  5. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Brad, thank you. Like you I enjoy trying to explore an issue from different directions. I’m often surprised what comes up. I’ll be interested to see how you get on with the questions as a warm up.

    Scott - yes, indeed. Listening to that voice would be very powerful indeed. Thanks very much for your comments and feedback. It means a lot to me.

    Wilson, it’s a fair point. I guess many people would think or feel about this as writing from the heart. For me though ‘the source’ is something outside of me - in the water of a river, or the air I breathe, or the feel of the land under my feet. It’s outside of me, but also connected to me, and when I connect to it… that’s when I can tap into the source. But I do realise everyone will have a different way of feeling or visualising this kind of connection.


  6. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Bo, I find that going out of the house shifts things into place too, though I don’t need to go too far - anywhere you can see the sky, some green space, some plants twirling or birds laughing… it can be enough to get me going.

    Glad to have given you some food for thought :-)

  7. Robyn McMaster says:

    At times, I have had goosebumps, a shiver going down your spine or hairs going up on the back of my neck, Joanna. These are times I have deeply connected to my source, God. I haven’t experienced this as a writer. Perhaps it’s because I’m so much in the process of learning to be a good writer. :-)

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Explore Escape Routes from Corporate America

  8. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Robyn, I have a funny feeling that some day before too very long you’ll get that feeling from some words that you’ve written. And then read them back to yourself… and recognise them for what they are.


  9. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, I don’t have quite have the words to express the power of this post. Allow me to begin by thanking you for reaching out of the computer and unlocking a wellspring of creative inspiration and thoughtful insight. You and Rosa make a powerful combination! Lately, I hear that source louder than ever before, demanding to be heard. This post lends clarity on how to bring that to page. I shall be first in line to buy the book!

    Karen Swims last blog post..Winner in Book Giveaway!

  10. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Karen, thank you. Your feedback is sending shivers down my spine!

    I’m looking forward to reading your creative work in the future too

  11. Links: 2008-10-31 | says:

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