Attuned writing is a dynamic, intimate, and inspired way of writing. Everything is woven in seamlessly; something coherent emerges.
No matter what kind of writing I've done, attuned writing has flowed through it, shaping me and my writing.
I can only see and name that in hindsight. For the longest time, I didn't have the language to describe this way of writing, a way that gets you out of your head and out of your own way.
Casting about, I initially called it writing by feel. I would literally feel my way through the page, word by word, line by line. Sometimes I'd crawl, sometimes I'd zip right along. This way of writing lifted a great burden off my shoulders. I didn't need to have it all figured out. I didn't need to second-guess myself or spin my wheels in revision gear. I could just relax and feel my way through the writing.
I realized that this way of writing was actually a form of listening. Not with my physical ears, but with my whole being. And I'd been doing it for decades.
It began at university when, in a state of mental exhaustion, I attuned to my non-thinking mind. I asked it to wade through the information I'd gathered, to organize it in the background of my awareness, and then to report back to me when it came time to write my papers. The results amazed and mystified me.
After university, I gravitated towards high pressure marketing and communication jobs with steep learning curves, ones that required me to create messages that would resonate and inspire action. Needing to be pitch-perfect, I attuned to my inner senses. I would read my writing aloud and use my body as an instrument to tell me how my writing was resonating and where it was on or off. This helped me refine my inner gauge and become more efficient.
I also attuned to my audience. While crafting a piece of writing, I'd imagine a curious and kind audience sitting on my shoulder, asking questions, engaging me in dialogue. Afterwards, I'd check to see how my writing resonated with live readers. In this way, I communed with my intended audience, and narrowed the gap between my imaginary and real readers.
After leaving the organizational world, I attuned to my integrity and wrote only things that felt aligned. While writing, I might ask: What is the wisdom of my heart telling me? Where is my energy pulling me? What matters most to me? What is calling me now? Using myself as an instrument, I'd find and enter the beating heart of my writing.
I took it a step further by getting out of my own way and yielding to the creative current that wanted to flow through me. Trusting the source and flow of that current, I attuned to emergent writing. I'd wait in the pause until something pithy, poetic, or profound spilled onto the empty page, wet and fresh.
Then a breakthrough. Without any effort on my part, everything gelled and I attuned to the whole. I'd give myself to the present moment as well as to the intangible backgrounding of things. While writing in this open and intimate sphere of awareness, I'd feel receptive, lucid, poised. And intensely alive.
I felt I had something of real value, and was excited to share it. What was it that worked for me? Would it work for other writers?
Turning the flashlight onto my own writing process and writing-flow-state, I realized that it revolved around listening and responding. Listening to the signals my body sent me as I wrote. Listening to my heart. Listening to my imaginary super-fan reader. Listening in on the zeitgeist of the times. Listening for a deeper and truer story. Listening to what wanted to be written in the moment. A lot of listening while writing--listening into the gap and writing simultaneously.
I began developing a step-by-step writing process and testing it by coaching writers and facilitating writing workshops. This process made a big difference to many people. People who longed to write but were afraid to do so. People who couldn't get started. People who were stuck. People who over-thought their writing. People who were skittish about sharing their writing, terrified it would be criticized.
I showed them how to get into and stay in the attuned writing groove. And I asked them to read their fresh writing aloud to us. What they wrote touched us, sometimes moving us to tears. Many writers felt liberated, even shocked by their own writing, as if something had been unlocked.
From this place of grounded experience, fruitful experimentation, and a desire to serve others, came Writing with Your Ever-Present Muse: 75 catalytic reads, wisdom pockets, and living experiments. The ever-present muse is a gateway metaphor I developed to access the way of attuned writing.
I am still learning about attuned writing, likely always will. The way of attuned writing, as I see it now, includes these elements:
The way of attuned writing is not done with me yet; it is still shaping me. That's what writing does, yes?
For now, the way of attuned writing is my way of expressing the creative life force that flows through, lights up, and breathes all of us.
It might be for you, too, especially if you write to inspire, provoke, peel back, illuminate, widen kinship, or voice what will no longer be silent.
There are many ways to enter the way of attuned writing. You can dip your toes into these excerpts from my book. Take in my musings. Follow me on Instagram. Or contact me to leave a book review. I'm happy to have you join me, wherever you are on your writing journey.
These are wild times, rife with peril and possibility -- ripe for writing that speaks to greater wholeness -- for our ourselves, our culture, our planet, and the future.