Fiction Writing: Find the Spirit of Aloha

Aloha: it means hello, good-bye, and I love you.

Aloha is more than a word, though. In the Hawaiian culture, aloha embodies the spirit of the islands and its people. It is a mindset and a way of life called “the Aloha Spirit”. Within this Aloha Spirit is a form of spirituality the Hawaiians call Huna.

What Is Huna?

The word huna means “secret”. The Hawaiians believe that the principles of huna contain the secrets to a happy and successful life.

Some people believe that, at one time, the whole world followed one set of teachings and everyone in the world lived by these lessons. They claim that people deviated and branched out into other belief systems.

Because the Hawaiian Islands were isolated from the rest of the world, these teachings stayed pure. Missionaries tried to wipe the beliefs out, but the Hawaiian people kept them alive. There’s even an Aloha Spirit Law.

That’s Nice, Harry, But How Does It Relate To Fiction Writing?

Serge Kahili King wrote about using huna as part of modern-day spirituality in his book, The Urban Shaman. I first picked up this book in the late 80s, and once I started applying these principles to my own life, I saw a drastic change.

Huna helped me see the positive side of life, and it helped me see how to reach my goals.

I’ve been looking through my books for inspiration. I recently came across my copy of The Urban Shaman and found what I was looking for:

Ike (EE-kay)

The first principle of Huna practically leapt off the page and grabbed me by the throat: Ike. The world is what you think it is.

This principle teaches that we are responsible for creating our own realities. If we want to change ourselves, all we have to do is change our perspective and start living the way we desire.

Can our dreams change the world we live in? You betcha. How many novels changed the course of human events? Where else do we create our own worlds but in fiction writing? We take the ordinary and make it something bigger than life.

Through fiction writing, we put our hopes and dreams on paper and share them with the world in the form of a story. These stories are our realities. These ideas spill over to the minds of our readers. They become inspired in turn and before you know it, you’ve changing the world.


Simply put, Kala means there are no limits.

Kala is the essence of oneness. None of us is truly alone; we are not separate. This lack of connection we live with on a daily basis is nothing more than an illusion.

Through fiction writing, you build a connection with your reader. You bring them into your dreams and into your world, if only for a short time. You help people escape their lives for a moment and bring them some enjoyment.

Kala teaches people to accept life for what it is with no expectations. When you begin to do so, you relax and the rest seems easier.


Energy flows where our attention goes. The nature of your thoughts directs the energy of your life. If you become mired down in self-pity, constantly thinking nothing but bad will ever come your way, that’s what you’ll get.

If you want abundance, create abundance. If you want happiness, create happiness.

The only way you’re going to be happy and get those good things is to get your novel written. Giving into your fears won’t get you anywhere, and you’ll end up spending your whole life thinking, “One day I will…”

One day never comes. Do it. Do it now.


Manawa: Now is the moment of power. Can you see how all the principles begin to flow together in a course of action? By acting now and doing a little bit each day, you begin to reach your goal.

Every thought and every action of every day creates your future. As Dr. Phil says, “If it’s happening now, we’re going to deal with it now.”

Stop saying, “I want to…” or “I will…” Now is the moment of power. Grasp it and use that power for something you can enjoy. Create your happiness and make your world what you want it to be.


To love is to be happy. You say that you love writing, but are you truly in love? Does writing really make you happy? The only way you can express your love of writing is by writing and being in love with it.

Even when you write for work, find the love. A sales letter is no different from your fiction. When you write without heart, it shows clearly in what you do.

Love is happiness and joy. Find the joy in each project and you’ve found Aloha.


Mana is divine power. This is the high you feel when you’re in The Zone. It’s that near out-of-body experience you have when you’re on a roll with your words, a chapter or a scene. It’s the kind of writing that makes you sit back and say, “Did I really write that?”

Every person has the power and the potential of the universe within. There is no outside power that controls you or your life.

What happens when you think someone or something has power over you? You choke or you become bitter or resentful.

So don’t diminish your own power by giving it away. Don’t let the thought of critics or nay-sayers stop you from what you want to do. What do they know, anyway?


Pono’s meaning is “effectiveness is the measure of truth”.

Many times, I’ve said to James that there was only one way to do something, and that was that. Each time, James has proved me wrong. Another way always exists; you just have to look for it.

One person’s truth may not be yours, and you shouldn’t follow the truth of others blindly. Go ahead, try their way first, but if it doesn’t work for you, find a way that does.

And rules? Sticking to the rules is fine – but who made those rules to begin with? Can’t you make your own rules that work best for you?

Outlining and detailed plots may be cumbersome, so try free-form writing. If none of the standard genres fit your particular style or story, then write what you want to write. Who knows? Maybe you’ll create a brand new genre.

The principles of Huna apply to more than just writing. They apply to life itself. Start with your fiction work and see how easy it is to let Huna leak into the rest of your life.

Before long, you’ll be living the Aloha Spirit every day.

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  1. This is a wonderful article (and a perfect reminder for me today!) – and not just for writers. You could look at it like this: it’s you who’s writing the story of your own life… :)

    Thank you.

  2. Wordefull post, really inspiring!

    I am the type of person that says “i will…” because i´m really scared to start. it seem like so many things in stake. And an I will… always seems more plasent, is the mid term between Doing it and giving up on it.

    I need to find a time to say, ok, this is who i am: a writer. and have the courage to say, this is how i want to live my life (an plan it a bit so i can still buy an ipod and a macbook. i will never be those tee-drinking-the-world-is-on-harmony-with-me Writer)

    So… again thanks for the post!

  3. Brett Legree says:

    Holy cow, Harry, I think it will take a while for all of this to sink in – this is really deep…

    I’m going to re-read this, ponder it for a bit, and then come back when I have something profound to add – this is a really great way of thinking.


    Brett Legree’s last blog something crazy.

  4. Harry,
    Now THAT is what I want to eat for for my morning mind food. AWESOME post.
    I hope that book is in print cause I am heading out to get a copy.
    Every wordof that mimics my beliefs in life. I had no idea that there was an Aloha Spirit Law.
    No wonder I loved it there.. Hmm.

    Thanks for a great start to the day.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..The Garden Gate

  5. Harry,

    I love this bit: “Even when you write for work, find the love. A sales letter is no different from your fiction. When you write without heart, it shows clearly in what you do.”

    I was talking to a friend about that last night. You can be writing the most mundane stuff, and your heart will accidentally come through if you are good at what you do. Your life-joy as well as your work-joy shows in good writing.

    A lovely piece as always.



    Kelly’s last blog post..This Is No Occasion for Doing Nothing

  6. Aloha.

    Mana – the power to perform in a given situation. The stuff of which magic is made of. Not to be confused with the Biblical manna…the monatomic white gold that made the Ark of the Covenant fly… 😉


    Jay Francis Hunter’s last blog post..Manipulating Typography: Helvetica to Hellvetica

  7. “and your heart will accidentally come through if you are good at what you do. ”

    I love this, Kelly.

    Harry, beautiful. Somewhere along my path someone told me to think of love as a verb instead of a noun. If we truly love something or someone, there are actions involved. It is a subtle tweak, but a powerful one.

    I have to read this again too. And think. Phew! This is going to be good.

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Zen Gardens

  8. Hehe. Harry’s going to read these comments, blink and think, “Yeah? It was good? Wow…” He doesn’t realize it when he hits it on the nail, I think.

  9. Brett Legree says:

    Harry drove the nail right into the board with one swing on this one :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog something crazy.

  10. Aloha and mahalo everyone. James is right, I did look at the comments and go “wow”, but the other side of me (the smug side I rarely let out of its cage) said, “Do you know your audience or what?”

    I know how much all of you like it when I do these types of posts and wanted to give you all something positive for breakfast.

    @Win & Alberto: *gives them each a flower lei* Welcome to MwP. It’s true, when I write posts like this it’s always more than about writing and if you feel fired up after reading it, then I’ve done my job well.

    @Brett: As I was writing this I thought, “Yup, Brett is going to eat this up and ask for seconds!” So, I gave you a luau. Just don’t eat the poi.

    @Wendi: The book should still be in print and if it isn’t, I’m sure you can find a used copy from Amazon. I loved Hawaii too, and I plan on going back there.

    @ Kelly: That’s it exactly. It’s all about putting your heart and soul into everything you do – even if it’s washing dishes, making dinner, or cleaning cat boxes.

    @ Jay: That’s the only kind of Mana I know. I hardly ever think of it in the Biblical sense.

    @Janice: Actions speak louder than words, but in our line of work, our words are our actions.

    @James: Do you know me, or what?

  11. It was good, ideed, Harry. I needed some Manawa today and you delivered.

    Good form!

    Oh, and am I the only one that thinks WoW or EverQuest when I hear the word, “mana?”

    Bob Younce at the Writing Journey’s last blog post..Getting Started as a Writer

  12. @Bob: I think of the card game “Magic”. Remember that one?

  13. @ Harry – Remember it?!? Heck, I almost made the pro tour. I came in 10th of 256 at the Gencon 2005 qualifier. Needed to come in 8th. Did it with a non-metagame deck, too.

    And I’d have made top 8 if it hadn’t been for my last opponent’s group of 12 friends standing behind him watching our match. I admit it, that killed my psych game.

    Bob Younce at the Writing Journey’s last blog post..Getting Started as a Writer

  14. Brett Legree says:


    You know us well. May I have another plate? :) Well done, sir.

    Brett Legree’s last blog something crazy.

  15. I am deeply relieved that I am not the only gaming nerd who immediately thought, even in the midst of being all touched and inspired, “Hey! Mana! That’s what my magic-users need!”

    This was a truly lovely post, Harry. Some of those principles are things that I’ve used for a long time, but I hadn’t any idea that they fused with other principles and formed an overarching philosophy like that. My favorite has always been that you create your own truth.

    Random Hamlet quote for all and sundry:

    “There is nothing, either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

    Tei’s last blog post..Bragging Rights: I Am the Greatest

  16. @ Harry- exactly. Each act of writing from that Aloha Spirit keeps the movement forward. Practice keeps the lines fluid, expressive, true…and suddenly the dance you’re doing ….oops, did I say dance?…tells a story. One little gesture at a time.

    Again the picture. If writing is like dancing from an inner spirit, each gesture a word, a phrase that comes from within…hmm….I am imagining the variety of dances going on…Harry’s doing the Hula here. I am sitting still gathering my Zen….Brian has the prophet sayers shuffle going on at Copyblogger…Kelly is saying , “Get up on to your feet” …uh oh Brett .. crazy? Better go look….

    …each in our own way setting up resonance. Writing action? You bet.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Zen Gardens

  17. Well, I’m a console gamer (for the most part), so I was thinking Final Fantasy MP :)

    Harry, I’ve really enjoyed your words on mana. I have problems with diminishing my own power, so I’ll have to keep mindful of this post in the future.

    Awesome work!

    RLD: Taekwondo Happiness’s last blog post..Whoops!

  18. @ Tei – Don’t want to talk out of school, but there’s quite a few gaming geeks (nerd is so much more derogatory, in my mind) that hang out here from time to time. Don’t tell, though, it’ll ruin the Mens’ rep.

    Bob Younce at the Writing Journey’s last blog post..Getting Started as a Writer

  19. Hi Harry – This is a fantastic post. What wonderful principles to live by. And thank goodness the Hawaiian people ignored the missionaries. Now, I wonder if that book you mentioned will still be in print? I’ll check it out.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Does Your Business Feel Like A Prison?

  20. It certainly is still in print, you can get it here: The Urban Shaman

  21. This is beautiful. I agree with win in that this can apply to more than just writing. I can see how this is true for my dancing, my coding (although I suppose that’s somewhat similar to writing), my life in general. Like Kelly said, in any part of your life, if you are truly passionate about it, it will shine through even in the most mundane things.

    @ Bob and Tei – Yeah, me too. I definitely thought of WoW. I don’t know if I’m a full-fledged gaming geek, but I’ve dabbled. 😉

    Allison’s last blog post..A Taste of Yellow

  22. Harry, good golly man, this was really powerful. As I read I felt my spirit soar and my confidence increase. A smile crept across my face as I remembered the Aloha Spirit that is ever present in Hawaii. With each word my passion for my goals increased and my heart, mind and spirit said “YES you can!” As Brett said, this is too good to read only one time, but must be savored again…and again. Thank you does not seem adequate but it’s all I have to offer – thank you.

  23. @Allison: It’s funny how these types of posts come about. This and the Way of Writing series both evolved from life applications to begin with. They were a matter of looking at how I could apply life to writing.

    I’m still trying to work in archery and motorcycles. Nothing’s clicked yet, but give it time.

    @Karen: There’s my sunshine girl! I knew you’d be another person who would appreciate the topic. You’re a prime example of the Aloha Spirit with your boundless optimism.

  24. Brett Legree says:


    I liked it so much I printed it out at work. I’ll be reading it again tomorrow morning when I get in – it was so positive!

    (thanks Harry)

    Brett Legree’s last blog something crazy.

  25. “Create your happiness and make your world what you want it to be.”

    Each new post you two write is like a building block towards my great AHA! That was lovely Harry, and it’s great how everyone here feeds off everyone else. ( a GOOD way, not in an vampire coven sort of way!)

    @Janice “…each in our own way setting up resonance.” Exactly!

    @Bob EQ was the first thing that popped into my mind as well. :)

    @Harry Thank you for the continual inspiration.


    Nicole’s last blog post..Blogging vs. Journaling

  26. @Nicole: Mahalo to you too.

    @Everyone: The feel of the comments today left me with the same feeling I get when I’ve cooked a great meal. Everyone is enjoying the food so much, they forget to talk. Like my Aunt Helen used to say, “Don’t talk, just eat.”

    Well, it was a great luau and by the sound of it, you all will be munching on leftover pork and haupia with your morning cup of kona tomorrow.

    Mahalo and Aloha
    Harrison “The Big Kahuna” McLeod

  27. Great lesson from the inside out Harry. thank you!
    I am booking a ticket in the am. :-)

    Harmony’s last blog post..The Moment And Money

  28. I love how you can see the similarities in different cultures. I might have to read up on the hawaiian way of living. It looks interesting and might strengthen my own beliefs. I’m always amazed at how happy I am now. I have no right to be, I’m broke and jobless. But I have my writing and for once not on anti depressants. I can’t believe how finding the one thing you’re meant to do can be so satisfying.
    .-= J.Morgan´s last blog ..Kakashi Vs. Bleach =-.


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