Review by Angela L. Eckhart
Albert Flynn DeSilver defines writers as those who write habitually, not just those who have been published. Perhaps the publishing will come later, but nonetheless, a writer is someone who simply writes. However, many writers experience the dreaded “writer’s block,” and battling those inner critics which prevents them from writing is a challenge. His advice is simple: “Stop thinking and start writing.” But how can writers silence their endless thoughts in order to write at will?
In Albert Flynn DeSilver’s writing guide, Writing As a Path to Awakening (Sounds True, September 2017), the act of meditation can serve as a catalyst to free the mind and pave the way to quiet our self-judgment. DeSilver states in his Acknowledgments, “It’s an invitation to enter this book in an open way, to enter your life in a newly expanded way yet with intentional healing parameters.” He further states, “Excessive thinking and obsessing over language, images, ideas, and meaning can twist your mind into knots of confusion and despair.” So, he suggests that the combination of meditation followed by writing can lead to emancipate our creative thoughts, thus producing more honest writing. “Writing as a path to awakening asks you to turn your attention inward toward the wisdom of a poetically open heart and mind…” The “magic,” he explains, is how writers share their spiritual experiences through the written word connecting us all…the human condition.
DeSilver’s guide, with the subtitle “A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life” is organized by the four seasons, and then broken down into monthly chapters. Each season contains three chapters relative to a particular theme. For example, the section “Spring” contains the three chapters of March, April, and May with their respective themes “Emergence,” “Blossoming,” and “Imagination.” Additionally, each chapter provides a suggested meditation to try, followed by a writing exercise.
Early on, in the February chapter of “Becoming,” DeSilver explores the act of reading, the physical act itself combined with the type of connection the reader may have towards the writer. Ultimately, for readers who are completely engaged, the readers can then become participants by contributing their own writing…thoughts inspired by what they had originally read. Such inspiration from the act of reading lends to awakened writing.
For many writers, the lack of motivation is one of the biggest hindrances in putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard). DeSilver approaches this topic with his own experiences, and he divulges the deeper emotions that prevented him from writing honestly. This is why he has found meditation to be so helpful. “It [meditation] challenges us constantly to move beyond our perceived limitations and capacities. We talk ourselves out of things all the time.”
The meditations and writing exercises in this book provide an outlet for creative expression as long as the writer writes freely and uninhibitedly. There are countless quotes by DeSilver that can be highlighted in this book for future remembrance, as so many of them are uplifting. But one of the most important quotes is in the form of an equation: No Self-Esteem + No Discipline = No Writing.
DeSilver’s guide is invaluable for writers. His inspiring insights and pep talks can awaken every writer’s fullest potential.
Angela earned her master of arts in creative writing from Wilkes University under the tutelage of Kaylie Jones and John Bowers. She lives below Blue Mountain in a log home with her husband and numerous pets, and she works for the Pennsylvania State Police under the Bureau of Forensics. In her spare time, she indulges in books, films, and making art. She and her retired husband enjoy annual trips to Aruba and four-wheeling through the mountains of Ohio. Maybe someday she'll get the courage to submit her stories.
On staff since 2011
Angela previously served as a reviewer for Hippocampus for a number of years before moving into the editor role. She's also on the conference operations committee.