“In the depths of winter I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus
“To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.” – Orhan Pamuk
So often if we want to write stories, we are told to look and listen for them as if they are “out there” waiting for us to discover them.
And it’s true, if you’re a reporter looking for a story, you might go to the library or the Department of Public Works or the Police Department and check in with the borough administrator or the police captain and read the daily log. And you might find a story waiting for you.
But if you’re sitting alone in your room trying to write fiction, the story that you are looking for isn’t “out there” but rather “inside” you, and it isn’t waiting to be discovered so much as it is a seed growing at its own pace. When ready, the seed will blossom, and you’ll see it -- you can’t help but see it--if you're paying attention, even if the blossom is so tiny that it’s almost invisible, even if the blossom only lasts a moment before it fades from view.
Sometimes, if you are paying very close attention, you can feel the seed of a story before seeing it. You can sense it putting out roots. And sometimes we may struggle to describe the story before it is fully formed and—here’s the miracle of writing—in trying to describe it, we help shape it into being, our words bringing the story into full bloom.
How do you learn to direct your gaze inward, to go where the stories are growing inside you?
It’s like breathing: inhale air into your lungs and exhale it out again.
On your next in-breath, look “inside” to the space into which you draw air and oxygen, nourishing your imagination.
Focus your gaze just below your heart.
Imagine your heart pumping blood into your arms and legs, and feel the pulse of the muscle, and follow the pulse to the tips of your fingers and toes, and relax as you sit in your chair or lie on your bed.
Just breathe, and close your eyes, and let whatever images appear flow across the darkened screen of your eyelids as if you are watching a movie.
Breathe gently, release the tension in your neck, your abdomen. Unclench your teeth, let your tongue rest motionless in the bed of your jaw.
In the process of gazing inward, you’ll find that the outer world melts away, and there before you, waiting for you to explore it, is an inner world filled with stories.
It’s a world filled with memories and experiences and unknown stories waiting to be felt and told.
All you have to do is close your eyes and let your imagination take flight.
For more information on turning your gaze inward to write, visit: