Continuing the extracts from Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers. Last time we looked at the how the ego and its shadow causes most of your problems as a writer. Here we explore the solution in this final extract from chapter one:
The Courage to Write
Writing is a leap of faith. You never really know what you’re doing but it can give a great sense of purpose, structure and meaning to your life. It’s a way to express joy, curiosity, amazement, and awe of this mysterious process we call life. Writing creates order out of chaos and helps to make sense of your experience. But it also involves confronting yourself and telling the truth about what you see.
Because of this, writing takes real courage. It’s a risky business, not just in terms of how you might make a living, but on a personal level. You’re exposing yourself, revealing your soul on the page, and that is something guaranteed to give your ego chills.
To write well you must think well. But you must also know when to stop thinking. To find your voice as a writer you need to cultivate inner silence. You need to be quiet enough inside so you can listen, not just to the still small voice of your intuition, but to your shadow voices too.
The shadow provides the raw material that you transform into new ideas and creative breakthroughs. It’s often seen as a dark and murky place, but it also contains hidden gems. These gems are your inner gold, your hidden talents and gifts.
Both the gold and the darkness contribute to your voice as a writer. But to access both, you need to know yourself. You need to hear your own voice through the noise and chatter of other people’s voices, expectations and assumptions, and your own fears, doubts, expectations, hopes and dreams.
You need to discern the difference between the fearful voice of your ego and the voice of your true Self. You will have to let go of the writer you think you want to be in order to become the writer that you are.
To find the courage to write and clear the blocks that get in your way, you will need to practice some kind of regular mental house cleaning. Your mind should become a sanctuary; an open, spacious place that you don’t fear to enter because you have made friends with it and the voices that live there. When you make friends with yourself, nothing that lurks in your subconscious can erupt and sidetrack you from writing.
As a writer, you may be able to control reality on the page, but you can’t control real life quite so easily. However, you can control your response to what happens.
You don’t have to be stuck with dysfunctional patterns of thought or behaviour that block the expression of your deeper Self. The mind is very adaptable and it can be trained. You can free yourself from negativity and self-doubt and dissolve your fears – not by forcing them into silence, but by listening and opening to the darker side of yourself with compassion and understanding.
You may find yourself resisting the very idea of training your mind because it sounds serious. The word ‘training’ conjures ideas of strict discipline and boring hard work. But this resistance is just your ego talking. You will need to challenge some deeply ingrained habits, and it will take discipline, but it doesn’t have to be hard work. It might even be fun!
Mind training isn’t about being perfect or always knowing what to do and being in control all the time. That’s the way of the ego.
Mind training is about meeting life on its own terms rather than imposing your beliefs on reality and trying to make life conform to your wishes. It’s about being awake and alive and fully present to your experience, whatever it may bring. You can’t know everything. Life is unpredictable and messy and you’ll never get it right all the time. Training your mind is a way to make peace with yourself and life as it actually is, rather than struggling against it.
When you free your mind, your pen will follow.
Continued in the book…
Extracted from: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers (59 Slogans to Cure Writer’s Block & Free Your Voice). Available now!
In the next post we’ll discover the roots of this technique in the tradition of lojong and the teachings that underpin the practice…
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