Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Don’t Waste Your Life

Don’t waste your life is about facing up to your mortality and remembering not to take your life for granted. Your time is limited and life is precious.

The original lojong slogan is: The mahayana instruction for ejection of consciousness at death is the five strengths: how you conduct yourself is important. The five strengths of slogan 17 are instructions on how to live, while this slogan is about practising for death. But the two are interconnected. How you feel about death influences how you live, and how you live influences how you die.

To live well comes back to the five strengths and the importance of not drifting through life or wasting the opportunity you have to wake up and be really present.

Living intentionally and doing all you can to wake up is important because the alternative means your life is controlled by fear, and that’s not an easy way to live. When you wake up, you can choose how to live, no matter what’s actually happening in your life. You can choose to change your attitude and free yourself from the fears that hold you back and stop you from enjoying life.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by seeing every day as a fresh opportunity to try again to do something new. You don’t want to reach the end of your life and find yourself full of regret for all the things you didn’t do because you were too scared to take a risk.

Don’t be one of those writers who says they want to write a novel but never actually does. Whenever you notice yourself pulling back from an opportunity or doubting your ability to write or achieve your goals, this slogan can bring you back to the present moment. Don’t waste your life worrying about things you can’t control.

Not writing won’t kill you, but it will make you miserable. There’s nothing worse than wanting to write but being too scared to try. There’s only one way to find out if you can do something, and that’s to give it a go. Just write and see what happens. What’s the worst that could happen?

Your writing prompt this weekend: What are you scared to write? In your slogan journal, write about the subjects that frighten you or the styles of writing you’re scared to try. Why do they scare you?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers
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