from the bookshelves of
Barbara Jean Hicks
I’ve been a writer since elementary school and a teacher of writing, both for children and adults, since my high school days as a member of Future Teachers of America, when I tutored and helped out in elementary classrooms. In my quest to grow both as writer and teacher, I’ve built quite a resource library over the years, and one book I’ve referred to many times—and will incorporate into the Highlights children’s writing workshop I’ll be presenting in September—is Writing the Natural Way: Using Right-Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers.
Written by Gabriele Lusser Rico and first published in 1983 by J.P. Tarcher, Inc., the book reflects what was at the time ground-breaking research on hemispheric specialization of the brain and creativity.
“We have all heard the saying that so-and-so is a ‘born writer’… In truth, the innate human need that underlies all writing, the need to give shape to your experience, is a gift we all possess from earliest childhood. Yet only a few of us keep on expressing this need through a sustained relationship with language, our natural urge for self-expression inhibited by the weight of rules and prescriptions. This is sad because children’s writing naturally has an expressive power, an authenticity that inherently captures the sound of an individual on the page, an ability we seem to lose the more we learn about writing.
“Our loss begins in school, when the process of writing is taught to us in fragments: mechanics, grammar, and vocabulary…
“Let us begin [instead] with the whole, with the fundamental human desire for giving shape to experience, for expressiveness, for creating form and structure out of the confusion that constitutes both our inner and outer worlds. Natural writing is first of all an act of self-definition of what you know, what you discover, what you wonder about, what you feel, see, hear, touch, taste—all of which reflects the many-faceted crystal that you are. The result of expressing your experience is a unique voice: yours. Your voice is expressed in storytelling, in pictures, in sound, in feelings, and above all in the focus you discover each time you write.”
The result of “writing the natural way”? In Rico’s words, it enables us to achieve “connectedness and coherence, texture and rhythm, authenticity and emotional intensity in [our] striving toward expressive power.” I highly recommend a close look at this writing resource. In fact—now that I’ve had a successful experience leading a group of writers and artists through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way on the Platform 9 ¾ Blog—I think this would be a great book to use as the focus of an online book group. Anybody up for that? Starting the beginning of July? Let me know!