An Integral Writing Tour: Through the Four Studios of Your Own Awareness


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by Edith Friesen

Using Integral Theory as my framework, I explore the four quadrants or fundamental perspectives of reality with respect to writing. This consists of inquiry into the use of subjective, objective, intersubjective, and interobjective perspectives to better understand and express writing. My thesis is that together these interrelated perspectives comprise the whole writing space: an Integral writing space. I also identify three developmental levels within each quadrant (e.g., three increasingly complex subjective perspectives, objective perspectives, etc.). This results in a total of twelve unique perspectives that map the horizontal breadth and vertical depth of the territory of writing. I offer experiential exercises for each of these writing perspectives in order to help the reader recognize them. My conclusion is that each of these perspectives is already present within our experience and is vital for a comprehensive understanding and expression of writing.

Introduction

Interested in awakening more of your writing potential? I thought so. The good news is it is probably easier and more fun than you realize. Consider this: As a reader or writer, you already know when a piece of writing rings true and when it sounds hollow and false. When it oozes with colour and life and when it feels bone dry. You know when it flows naturally and when it stumbles across the page. When the words speak to you and when they hide behind a fog. And you know when a piece of writing takes you by surprise and moves you, when it opens the window of your mind and expands your horizon. When it takes you beyond yourself—higher, deeper, wider. When it shakes you to the core and changes you forever.

Such is the mystery of the written word, and it is within your reach—right here, right now—whether you are a beginning or an experienced writer. It is within your reach because this mystery already lives within you and is expressed in every dimension of your reality.

However, most popular writing resources only focus on one or two dimensions of that reality. The next time you visit the writing section of your local library or bookstore, check it out. Some resources help you free the writer within. Many show you how to craft your writing. Others help you influence your readers. And still others advise you on publishing and marketing your writing. All of them offer to help you maximize your writing potential, but in the greater scheme of things, they offer only a few pieces of the puzzle. The same goes for the various theories that directly and indirectly inform these popular resources, but that’s another discussion.

I want the whole puzzle, and maybe you do too. I want to write with more of me, even all of me. I’ve spent my whole life wanting this. For many years, I looked for ways to write with more depth and shine—with greater self-expression, meaning, potency, and value. Greater freedom. More fulfillment. In the process I devoured books, participated in writing groups and workshops, and wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote, both personally and professionally. Along the way, I vaguely sensed I was missing something, but I could not put my finger on it. It turns out I was not only missing a few pieces of the puzzle, I was missing the big picture.

Integral Theory showed me what I was missing—a comprehensive way of seeing my reality. Integral Theory is grounded in the Integral framework as developed by Ken Wilber. From the vantage point of Integral Theory, I was able to access the whole of my writing potential. Briefly, the Integral framework is comprised of five elements (quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types). Each of these elements is essential for an Integral approach to writing. For example, when we write, we are simultaneously writing from different quadrants, levels of awareness, various lines of development, states of consciousness, and personality types. To understand fully the complexity of writing, all these dimensions need to be considered. However, in this article I will focus on writing from the four quadrants or perspectives of reality. Future articles will explore how the other elements contribute to Integral writing, as my understanding and application of the Integral framework continue to evolve.