A Gentle Nudge Toward Your Notebook (or Computer)

21 11 2008

From “Fighting Tofu”, chapter six of Writing Down the Bones (no infringement intended):

Discipline has always been a cruel word. I always think of it a s beating my lazy part into submission, and that never works. The dictator and the resister contiue to fight: 

“I don’t want to write.”

“You are going to write.”

“I’ll write later. I’m tired.”

“You’ll write now.”

All the while my notebook remains empty. It’s another way that ego has to continue to struggle. Katagiri Roshi has a wonderful term: “fighting the tofu.” Tofu is cheese made out of soybeans. It is dense, bland, white. It is fruitless to wrestle with it; you get nowhere.

If those characters in you want to fight, let them fight. Meanwhile, the sane part of you should quietly get up, go over to your notebook, and begin to write from a deeper, more peaceful place. Unfortunately, those two fighters often come with you to your notebook since they are inside your head. We can’t always leave them in the backyard or basement or at the day-care center. So you might have to give them five or ten minutes of voice in your notebook. Let them carry on on in writing. It is amazing that when you give those voices writing space, their complaining quickly gets boring and you get sick of them.

It’s just resistance. Ego can be very creative and make up remarkable resistive tactics. My friend who was beginning her first novel said that she would sit at the typewriter for the first ten minutes and just write about what a terrible writer she was, what a jerk she was to even attempt a novel. Then she pulled out that sheed of paper, tore it up, and be gan on the tak at hand–the next chapter of her novel.

It is important to have a way worked out to begin your writing; other wise, washing the dishes becomes the most important thing on earth–anything that will divert you from writing. Finally, one just has to shut up, sit down, and write. That is painful. Writing is so simple, basic, and austere. There are no fancy gadgets to make it more attractive. Our monkey minds would much rather discuss our resistances with a friend at a lovely restaurant or go to a therapist to work out our writing blocks. We like to complicate simple tasks. There is a Zen saying: “Talk when you talk, walk when you walk, and die when you die.” Write when you write. Stop battling yourself with guilt, accusations, and strong-arm threats.

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One response

21 11 2008
Danielle "Nola Divine" Rouson

“It is important to have a way worked out to begin your writing; other wise, washing the dishes becomes the most important thing on earth–anything that will divert you from writing.”

LMBO!!! So true. It’s amazing how many “important” things I find to do, when I really should just sit down and write…

you captured that perfectly

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