Free Your Pen · Writing

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Don’t Expect Applause

Don’t expect applause is about not expecting recognition or applause for the things you do. The original slogan is the same and it encourages you to let go of attachment to the outcome, in a similar way to slogan 28.

Nobody in their right mind expects applause for practising mind training and meditation. You know you’re not going to be recognised for your amazing ability to stay focused on the present moment. But you may be surprised how subtle your need for recognition can be. So this slogan asks you to pay attention to your desire for approval and appreciation.

You won’t be congratulated for becoming a saint, especially if you secretly hope you will! Compassion and meditation aren’t spectator sports. You don’t meditate to win medals. You do it to be calm and focused and to reconnect with your deeper Self and feel more alive. You don’t need applause for that.

Enjoy the appreciation you receive when you get it, but don’t expect it or let it go to your head. You don’t need applause for meditating every day. You just sit and breathe. It’s no big deal.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by looking at how you feel about success and recognition in relation to your writing.

You’re unlikely to be congratulated just for writing something. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or how hard you work, or the care with which you craft your story, if you expect applause you’ll be disappointed. And if you need applause and recognition in order to feel motivated, you’re likely to give up writing altogether.

The desire to seek approval disrupts your ability to write because it leaves you open to manipulation by others. It also hands too much power to your own fears because chasing recognition and success is often compensation for a feeling of lack in other areas.

But no amount of fame and fortune will make you feel better about yourself. In fact, you may feel even worse because you’ll feel like a fraud or an imposter. The more desperate your need for outer approval, the more desperate you’ll feel inside.

Writing, like meditation, is about the process. It’s great when others appreciate your work, but don’t rely on it. Write because you know you can’t not write. Just don’t expect applause.

Your writing prompt this weekend: In your slogan journal, explore your feelings about success. What does it mean to you? What would you be willing to do to achieve success?

This is the final slogan! If you’ve enjoyed this series of writing prompts, you’ll find a lot more exercises and guidance in the book – available on Kindle and in paperback. You can also explore extracts on the Free Your Pen blog, or use the slogan randomiser at Lojong for Writers. May your pen and your mind be free! 

Discover the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers
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