Friday, October 1, 2010

Surrender to the Soul of the Story

Surrender is  a part of Indian  spirituality. It’s  the first lesson a disciple is taught when he enters spiritual life and trains under his spiritual master. The only advice given to the disciple by his Spiritual Master is  “Surrender”: go along with the flow of things.

Surrender in spiritual life simply means  bowing down to the inevitable, shedding  all desires  and expectations and just enjoying the experiences that   life/fate throws in our paths. The experience may be good, bad, sweet, bitter, small  or  big, but each experience  teaches the disciple something and adds to the disciple’s spiritual growth. The surrender  done  with utmost  humility and childlike innocence  hastens the disciple’s   spiritual  progress and all obstacles are overcome.

Before you all shake your heads and wonder whether this post is about spiritual life, I hasten to deny it.

Have you all realized that as writers  we  follow  the philosophy of surrender while working on our manuscripts.  When we start  writing our stories, don’t we surrender completely to it, bow down to the inevitable. The story  not only consumes us,  but chucks everything it has in our paths. Our characters throw  tantrums, our muse often plays truant, mental blocks hamper the progress of our stories, there is criticism galore from various sources. But,  like spiritual aspirants we continue on our chosen paths  with dreams of the published book in our eyes.

When we try to force the story or impose our rules upon it, it turns hostile and unnatural. The only way we can  do justice to  our stories  is by  surrendering completely to it: we should write the story with our heart,  pour our passion into it, be true to its theme, allow it to lead us where it wants to be taken, let the characters have the freedom to do what they want. There will be sufficient time later to summon the inner editor and spruce up the story and chop the undesirable parts.  

 Every story  has  a soul; it’s the essence of the story; the fragrance  emanating from the story that touches the readers’ souls. This soul to soul connection  is  responsible for its success. This is possible  only when we succumb all our senses to the story  without asking ourselves any questions.

Many times writers write with an eye on the commercial  market (at times I do too)  they forget to be true to the story, but start pandering to the current trend. The stories in their hearts  are suppressed by the stories that the market wants: stories that are the current flavours.  The essence of the story is diluted and the soul weakened. These stories  never achieve any amount of memorability. The  success they achieve is temporary.

Have you at any time surrendered to the soul of the story?  Given in completely to its pull  without asking questions?  If yes, where has it lead you? If no, where did you end up with the story? What are your views on it?


  1. For my first two books I had completely surrendered to the souls of the stories. But slowly I gave in to the commercial bug. The writing then turned mechanical. And I realized that I was not enjoying it as much as before, somewhere along I was forcing the stories to pander to the editor who would approve it and then the reader. Now it’s back to the Surrender path, and I feel the passion has returned double fold.

  2. So far I have only surrendered to the story. I haven't yet given into commercialism. But then I've not had to yet. I hope that when the time comes I'll be strong enough the resist commercialism and fight for the soul of the story.


  3. Beautifully put, Rachna. I do this all the time and love the feeling of being completely in the stories power. There are times when it doesn't work and I try to force the story, and those are the ones that usually get rejected and re-written. Sometimes I'm not in the zone!

  4. Lovely post Rachna! I believe in being "naked" in my writing. Now I don't mean wearing my birthday suit when typing it up...Good Grief! lol
    I mean that I have to be true to myself, my heart, my soul when I write or the story just does not refuses to even if I could force it. My most relaxed form of writing is of course my poetry. But it is so true...commercially "hot" comes and go in all aspects but a story with heart, soul and mind haunts any reader that picks it up. The pen has more power than a sword when used this way.

  5. Rachna,
    I think without surrendering we can not complete any creative work.And this surrender is like a full devotion or involvement in your creation.Without full involvement(with heart and soul) we could not create our dream's story,poetry or any other creation.
    But it is also true that it's time of market or commersialization.Then why we not make any way to ballance both aspect i mean---surrender for creation and market value both?
    But i liked your this article.
    Best wishes.

  6. When I'm writing poetry. . .
    The times I surrender my words to what my heart wants to write, those are my best writings. I have fun, once in a while, just writing and seeing what I come up with!

  7. I surrender my story to God. He helps me create exactly what I want to say, but cannot at times find the right way to show it. And as far as commercialism goes, I will always stay true to the story. I don't know many writers who won't.

  8. Rachna,
    I love this as I can relate. I tried to write a commercial love story this past spring and became very frustrated with it. Then I picked up a work I did last fall, one that meant more to me and really loved writing again!

  9. I love your spiritually guided posts! Surrender is a lesson my Master has been teaching me this year.
    I have tried both styles of writing--just letting it go and trusting the story and the characters and the alternative, trying to guide the characters toward a specific plot. The former is definitely more my style. I like not knowing where things will go because that's how life is. At one point, I took my book in a really crazy direction. I had to later cover my tracks a lot to get rid of it, but I got a great character out of those few weird scenes, one that I would not have gotten otherwise and that played a huge part in the story in other scenes.
    I'm editing right now, and I'm having a hard time balancing trust/surrender with trying to make the story better. Going willy nilly is easy when I write, but how to do it during revisions? I'm still not sure...

  10. I just found your blog through Rayna at Coffee Rings Everywhere. I love your post on surrender. That is how I write. When I try to force writing I just shut down and can't think. When I surrender to it, I am often surprised where it leads me. Most of my blogs and stories start as one thing and end up being something else. Something I love and enjoy more than when I started it.

  11. What a wonderful post. So glad you made me think about this "surrender." I agree with what you said, though you said it in a particularly convincing way. Letting the story tell itself--not trying to put too much of an agenda on it. I agree about the dangers of thinking too much of commercial matters--I suppose a balance would be best. Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed it.

  12. Uaually when I surrender to the stories they are the best ones I write. I need to surrender more :)

  13. Jai, I hope we all can be strong enough to fight for the soul of the story by resisting the commercialism when the time comes.

    Ellie, being caught completely by the power of the story is a wonderful feeling.

    Kim...being honest to the story in our heart and soul works wonders for it. The result is something deep and heartfelt that not only resonates with the readers but stays with them for a very long time.

    Hemant, you put it so beautifully, surrender is indeed full devotion and involvement with the stories that we want to tell.

    Alexis, the best writing does indeed come after we surrender completely to the story or poetry.

    Robyn, what a beautiful dedication : I am sure that when we surrender our story to God, he will look after it in every way.

  14. Terri, I have tried both the paths and trust me when I forced the story the result was horrible. But after surrendering to the story's soul it just flowed naturally.

    Dayana, trusting the story and the characters and the alternative, is the best we can do, there is always the rewrites to reshape the story. Surrender is a wonderful path we can easily take in our writing life.

    Theres just life, my brain too shuts down when I try to force my writing. I have tried both the paths and I can vouch for surrender.

    Samuel, letting the story tell itself and not putting too much of an agenda on it is the right way to go, atleast in the initial drafts. Finding a balance between surrender and the commercial aspects of the story would be wonderful.

    Lynda, we all need to surrender more. I am sure the results will be amazing.

  15. This post about surrendering to your writing is wonderful. I, too, have tried to write with the commercial bent in mind and you are so right. Something is always missing and it's just not satisfying. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting:) I love meeting new writers!

  16. I have absolutely surrendered! All of my hopes and dreams are in God's hands. When I start a new manuscript I let the words flow and trust it will turn out how it is supposed to.

  17. I can totally relate to this. Right now I'm still in my first draft, and I need to remind myself to write it as if no one will see it. I need to keep my worries about what others will think out of my head. Excellent post.