The Writers’ Institute UW-Madison 2011

A Writer is Compelled to Write by Len Buchanan

A Writer is Compelled to Write by Len Buchanan

After I push the “publish” button on this post, I’m heading up to UW-Madison’s 22nd Annual Writers’ Institute where I’ll be in Nirvana, Utopia, Seventh Heaven—pure bliss—for the next several days.

It’s often asked, “Why do writers write?”

I don’t think writer’s write, I think they’re written through. Somewhere along the way they gave themselves over to being a vessel through which words flow. A writer can’t not write—they’re compelled to write. Even if it’s only for themselves.

It’s in the creative experience of writing that ideas, emotions, and thoughts are unleashed. This “unleashing” is euphoric—a state that becomes addictive—a way of being in the world that opens the door to endless possibility

Some of the telltale signs of a writer:

You’d be equally thrilled to receive a bouquet of freshly sharpened #2 pencils as you would a bouquet of flowers.

Pencil Bouquet by Laurie Buchanan

Pencil Bouquet by Laurie Buchanan

Sleuth-like, you carry a Moleskine® or other small tablet to capture your brilliant ideas, and great lines as you eavesdrop the conversations around you in a restaurant, on the train, in the line at the grocery store…

Sleuth Pad by Laurie Buchanan

Sleuth Pad by Laurie Buchanan

My best eavesdropping line [Older gentleman in bar says to young waiter as he’s getting ready to remove his seemingly empty glass]: “Young man, don’t ever waste marinated ice cubes.”

If you’re a writer, you may also enjoy these posts from the archive:
The Writers’ Institute (2010)
The Power of Words
Breaking the Rules
Capturing Thoughts
W is for Writing

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
                – Laurie Buchanan

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

28 thoughts on “The Writers’ Institute UW-Madison 2011

  1. “A vessel through which words flow” art streams through those who move out of their own way and allow spirit to move through them to create, beauty, create change, to create ideas and thoughts.

    Enjoy your time immersed in your bliss!

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Jeff – Back from the evening “pitch” session where a great time was had by all. In reading you comment about the flow of spirit, I clearly see you, You, YOU and your photography 🙂

  2. Well when you put it like this Laurie I do recognize the writer in me though I am likely to doodle with the pencil rather than write or edit a piece of writing. The eavesdropping – you caught me, notepad in hand.

    All the best on your adventure and we shall catch you on the return!

    • Terrill – Having read your book, and being a regular reader of your blog posts, you are–indeed–a captivating writer; holding your reader engrossed. You made me laugh with your comment about you being “caught.” Have a fantastic weekend!

  3. Hope all goes well during your trip. Had not thought myself to be a vessel but now that you mention it, I do sometimes feel like I have succumbed into some kind of trance when writing. Every distraction fades into the background and I give myself over to the experience I am trying to recreate on paper.

    Nice post.

    • Reflecto – I like what you said, “…have succumbed into some kind of trance when writing. Every distraction fades into the background and I give myself over to the experience…” yes, Yes, YES!

  4. Save that line, Laurie, for a magnificent blog title: “Young man, don’t ever waste marinated ice cubes.” That’s a winner!

    As for being written through–yes. That’s all it is, I think. Willing to be a vessel for the words to arise. Wonderful…and have lots of fun!

    • Kathy – Well, I’m closer to the UP than I was a few hours ago, but according to a recent guest post on your blog, if she’s a “Troll” because she lives by Mackinac Bridge, then I must be a “Ork” or something that lives waaaaaaay underground because I’m on ly as north as Madison (and loving it!). Yes, I’ll have to save that great line for a post title. And you’ve hit the nail on the head with the emphasis on “willing.” That’s vital!

  5. How apropos that I show up here, after a long and quiet absence, to find you delving into the subject of writing. Enjoy your week of adventure, immersed in the fertile ground that allows the words to find space on the page!

    • Nancy – It’s been a month of Sundays! It’s so good to see you here again, welcome! Thank you for the well wishes. I intend to enjoy the bajeebers out of myself 🙂

    • Patricia – I arrived a few hours ago, have had lunch and am settled into my room. Our first event starts at 5:3pm this evening and if I was any readier, they’d have to issue me a ticket!

  6. Hi Laurie,

    I can certainly agree in a sense with your statement “I don’t think writer’s write, I think they’re written through.“.
    I certainly do my best creative writing when I simply set a high level context consciously, and then simply let the words flow. Often I will change a few words in the editing process, yet mostly things stay as written. And I suspect that we have very different explanatory understandings of this shared experience.

    In another sense however, all of the subconscious processes that allow the words to flow from us are very much a part of what we are.
    The conscious awareness is the very tiny tip of a vast set of subconscious creative processes powered by an amazing array of systems that are repeated both across and through many levels of organisation, in numbers that are hard to conceive.

    So it is very much us, it is who we are, and who we are is so much more than our conscious awareness, and at the same time most of these systems are very much part of and dependent upon our physical bodies.

    Glad you are having a great time.
    Arohanui from the far side of the Pacific.

    • Ted – The part you wrote that really (!) resonated me was, “…and who we are is so much more than our conscious awareness…” I’m heartily nodding in the affirmative 🙂

  7. Great seeing you again this weekend up in Madison. I’m still turning over “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” in my head over and over. Wish you all the best success with your writing! You are so very inspiring! I am glad to know you.
    Paula Burzawa
    Seasons of

  8. Laurie, I hope you had a great time at the writer’s workshop/seminar. Heck I’m not sure you really need to learn all that much yourself, but embellishment can never hurt! Enjoy!

    • Sam – The Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison is a phenomenal opportunity for anyone who likes to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). A great time was had by all–whoohoo!

  9. Pingback: Opera “Le Comte Ory” by Rossini, Stage Play “The Bad Seed” films “Insidious,” “Hanna,” “Meek’s Cutoff” and Sidney Lumet on Monday Morning Diary (April 11) « Wonders in the Dark

  10. I’m jealous, I wanna go too!! I love writers workshops and symposiums and all that. And yes indeed I never leave home without my pad of paper – I LOVE evesdropping on the odd conversation, I’ve gotten some of my best material from just hanging out in coffee shops listening to who’s got what to say about whom. But I do draw the line when it comes to caring more for pencils than flowers Laurie. Hope you have a great week.

  11. Yes! Whatever our talent, we can’t help that it flows through us in that way, each of us our own unique way of being in the world…

  12. Pingback: Several blogs, including Question of the day on what I want to say tot he world | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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