Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Don’t Make Things Painful

Don’t Make Things Painful is about not making a bad situation worse by dwelling on it in a negative way. Molehills don’t have to be mountains in your mind.

The original lojong slogan is: Don’t bring things to a painful point, and follows naturally from the previous one about not holding a grudge. Everybody worries about their problems at times, but when you get caught up in thinking negatively it makes things seem worse, and then it can be even harder to stop worrying and find a solution.

This slogan encourages you to be more positive. Focus on your strengths and the things you do well. This doesn’t mean you should avoid thinking about your problems and become a Pollyanna who pretends that everything is fine. Just don’t make things more painful than they need to be.

Don’t suffer over your suffering. Accept yourself and your life as it is, and remember to return to the peace of your true Self. From that still centre in your heart, you can approach every problem with compassion by emphasising the positive without denying the negative.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering not to beat yourself up when your latest story doesn’t turn out as you hoped. You’ll have good days and bad days, and do a lot of bad writing. Sometimes you won’t write anything at all. It’s all part of the process.

Don’t listen to the voices in your head that brood over every clunky phrase and crude metaphor. When you’re having difficulties with your work it isn’t a sign that you should give up or that you can’t really write. There’s no need to make it more painful than it needs to be by focusing on the difficulties of the process.

By not making things painful you leave the door open to the possibility of change and improvement. If something you’ve written doesn’t work, you can always rewrite it.

Your writing prompt this weekend: In your slogan journal, write about a time when you were overwhelmed by negativity. Explore your feelings about it and how you overcame the problem.

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


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