After an enthralling recital of the myth of Taliesin, Horst spoke of the difference between imagination and intellect in creative writing – the former evokes inspiration and emotion, while the latter dulls, if not neuters, creativity.
During the workshop, Horst led us through four creative writing exercises, each developing on the last. We imagined every being and thing we have inhabited throughout history and wrote of this experience, and then focused on bringing one of these experiences to life in our writing. We wrote from the perspective of an animal, inhabiting the creature and relaying its experience, and then, using short phrases, inspired each other to write about another’s experience.
Throughout it all, Horst was adamant that we do not write our stories. Rather, like the bards and druids of Celtic culture, we enter portals into other times and other beings, inhabiting these characters and situations, who guide our telling of their story. Only by fully inhabiting these beings can we tell authentic stories.
The way to write affective stories, Horst says, is to find an image that prompts a strong feeling and use this as a guide, following the images it prompts. Bad writing, he says, comes from not following the feeling, and instead following the intellect, which tries to control and distort the story that wishes to be told through you. If at any time you lose the feeling, Horst suggests going back to the original inspirational image and write until the feeling returns. The feeling, he says, is the key to knowing you’re on the right path. And the best way to maintain this connection with the feeling is to write through the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. This way, the writing comes alive for both the writer and the reader.
Horst was a fount of inspirational writing wisdom. While so much of what he said was inspiring, the one piece of advice that resonated the most for me is that anyone who wants to succeed in creative writing shouldn’t insert their writing around their regular life practices. Rather, you should insert your life around your regular writing practice.
Horst’s enthusiasm for inspiration and storytelling left a positive impression all that attended the workshop and we were all enriched by his presence and wisdom.
If the above interests you, please check out Horst’s other workshops and his books, The Writer's Passage and The Power of Stories, which I highly recommend.