Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Keep Calm and Carry On"

"Keep Calm and Carry On"

I recently found this gem while flipping through a catalogue. A simple yet powerful reminder, this poster was intended to strengthen the resolve of the British should the Nazis invade during World War II. Can you imagine? Only in Britain. We risk the threat being overtaken by a crazed dictator, but by all means, keep calm and carry on. And there you have it. The thing is, they would have done it. At least, that’s what my grandparents would have said.

So, if an entire nation was prepared to pull itself together with the threat of a Nazi invasion looming overhead, can we as writers pull ourselves together on a daily basis to create mindfully? I should think so.

We’re keeping our focus on Passion all month. This week, our focus is on the division between Passion and Emotion. The two are close cousins and are constantly confused for one another. Remember, Passion is fuel. Emotions, on the other hand, are feelings, right? No big science going on here.

Events in our daily lives lead us full steam into joy, love, happiness, contentment, disillusionment, anger and depression, not necessarily in that order. For better or worse, emotions flavor our lives. Only a disciplined artist who is aware of their emotional intelligence is able to separate Passion and Emotion at appropriate times to create mindfully and meaningfully for their audience. If you’re writing for an audience, it’s your job as a writer to masterfully craft a piece of work that inspires emotion in your reader. If you head into your piece clouded by the emotions of the day, you will undoubtedly produce something only you can fully understand and appreciate. If you're just creating for yourself and have no want, need or desire to shape your art into a viable career, knock yourself out. If you want to enjoy some quantifiable success with your public platform and published work, then this virtue is crucial to understand and apply. Forget the tired image of the tortured artist nobody understands and create with a purpose larger than yourself.

Ellen Snortland, journalist, activist, columnist, playwright, performer, contributor to The Huffington Post and author of Beauty Bites Beast: Awaken the Warrior within Women and Girls, writes and performs about some very hot topics. Her pieces usually center on culturally sensitive issues. Not only is she passionate about her work, she truly cares about her subjects. I asked her, how has keeping the division between Passion and Emotion helped you succeed as a writer? She responded, “I make sure I'm always in touch with what my emotions are because I feel my main responsibility as a writer, actor too, is to express authentically, in words and emotions what my feelings and thoughts are over daily life as well as the grand scheme of things.

As an artist, I have a responsibility to put into words those things that most people want to avoid or deny.”

If Ellen wasn’t able to communicate authentically and mindfully, she’d be doing her subject matter a great disservice as well as place her professional credibility at stake. Read Beauty Bites Beast and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s your exercise this week, writers: Find your motto or mantra that will keep you calm, focused and resolved to create mindfully and meaningfully, successfully. Print it, paint it, sketch it, type it, whatever, and keep it in a visible space. Look and reflect on it daily. This is your visual reminder to snap out of it and write thoughtfully. Let me know how it goes.

If you’d like to find out more about Ellen Snortland, please visit her website, She is truly one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please see her show, Now That She’s Gone. You can’t miss it.


  1. I've been hearing a lot about mantra's this week and am still trying to come up with one!
    Thank you, good post!

  2. Thanks again, Doreen! Good luck! Let me know how it goes.


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