Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Come Back to Basics

Come back to basics is about making and keeping a commitment to your mind training and writing practice. It’s about overcoming the tendency to get sidetracked by your ego and developing self-mastery instead.

The original lojong slogan is: Always abide by the three basic principles which are: to keep your promises, to not act outrageously, and to develop patience.

The first principle is to keep your promises and honour your commitments. Mind training can be hard work and it’s easy to flake out or give up when it gets difficult. So you need to stick to your commitment and keep practising.

The second principle is about not seeking attention for what you’re doing and not showing off or boasting about your accomplishments. Don’t brag about how long you can sit in meditation, for example, or make an issue about how good or spiritual you are. The need to be seen as special or talented or wise or spiritual is an ego trip. Remember Slogan 19!

The third principle is to develop patience. Mind training takes a long time and you’ll probably never have complete command over your own mind – that would mean being a full-blown Buddha, and that isn’t easy. So be patient. There’s no rush. It’s not a race and you don’t have to prove yourself.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering the commitment you made to your writing at the beginning of this process with Slogan 1. You made a promise to yourself so stick to it and keep writing.

The second principle reminds you to be modest about your work. Writing isn’t about showing off or trying to impress with your perfectly crafted prose and evocative metaphors. Writing well isn’t about you. It’s about the story.

Finally, to write well you must have patience. Learning to write takes a long time, and building a writing career can take decades. So be patient, and keep writing.

Your writing prompt this weekend: Make a promise to yourself to keep writing. Write it down in a one sentence statement and pin it up near your writing desk. For example, I love this statement by Clarissa Pinkola Estés:

I love my creative life more than I love cooperating with my own oppression.”

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


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.