Monday, July 7, 2014

four simple truths for the writer

Allow me to introduce you to my new favorite book on writing:

The Mindful Writer

If you want to be a writer but, instead of  putting words on the page every day, you pay homage to every distraction, uncertainty, and temptation that threatens to separate you from your work, you may like this book, too.
If you give in to the voices of discouragement, insecurity, and uncertainty that clamor for attention inside your own head, or you open the door every time the enemy knocks, this book may be for you.
On days when you're tired of writing or afraid to start, or unsure how to proceed, this little book can help. 
It is based on four simple truths:
  1. The writing life is difficult.
  2. Much of our dissatisfaction with it arises out of our desire to control not only the process of writing, but whether the world accepts or rejects what we have written.
  3. There are ways to lessen the disappointment of rejection and to live a more authentic writing life.
  4. The way to do this is to make the process of writing less about our own success and fulfillment, and instead to be mindful of our motives and our attachment to desired outcomes.
Yes, the author writes largely from a Buddhist perspective. Each short chapter is a reflection on a quote about writing. Here are a couple of my favorites:
  • "Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."~~Barbara Kingsolver
  • "I write to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see, and what it means."~~Joan Didion
  • Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that is wrong. They know less. That's why they write, trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted."~~Margaret Atwood
  • "Every morning between 9 and 12, I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper. Many times I just sit for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing: If an idea does come between 9 and 12, I am there ready for it."~~Flannery O'Connor
  • "Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write."~~Rainer Maria Rilke
Baobab tree

If you sometimes feel unbalanced--thrown off course by all that is happening to you and around you--remember that mindfulness can help you reconnect with your own truth. Reflect on who you are as a writer, where you are in life and what it means, how you feel about it, and what about it needs to be written--or drawn, or photographed, or choreographed, or sculpted, or put to music. Reflect on the Noble Truths of the Writing Life.
"As a writer you are free.
You are about the freest person that ever was.
Your freedom is what you have bought
with your solitude, your loneliness."
~~Ursula K. Le Guin~~


1 comment:

  1. I admit I like the solitude of being a writer but I also know I can find companionship and encouragement just by getting online. Another lovely post, Jan.