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Back to Basics :: Lee Gutkind

Published June 07, 2017 Posted by
creative nonfictionIn his introduction to Issue 63 (Spring 2017) of Creative Nonfiction, themed "How We Teach," Lee Gutkind writes about attending a yoga and creative writing retreat where he is teaching creative nonfiction to an "ecclectic" group of attendees. Just as varied is the group's experience with yoga, which the yoga instructor misjudged by giving too rigorous of a few first sessions. Gutkind writes that the instructor backed down after that, teaching technique and form basics, regardless of the participant's experience level. "We hard-core students thought we knew all of this stuff—some of us have been practicing for decades—so we were somewhat apprehensive at first. But as the lesson progressed, we began to realize that going back to the basics and relearning what we thought we knew was quite helpful."

Gutkind likens this to our need to review our own practice, weed out bad habits we may have developed over the years, and get back in tune with the basics: "In yoga or writing—or in practicing any art or skill—it does not hurt to start over once in a while just to make sure you know what you think you know. In fact, it occurs to me this is also why teaching can be reinvigorating—I know many writers who make their primary living by teaching and who often find their inspiration in writing prompts given to their students. But maybe there’s also something about focusing on the basics that can inspire innovation and transformation."

Read the full editorial here.
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