Peace of Mind


You don’t need a lot of equipment to become a writer.    Think of those art forms that require so many tools and so much space.   Imagine the logistics necessary if your art involves casting bronze, or blowing glass, or painting a model, or filming on a busy city street, or taking ballet class every day, or cutting reeds for an oboe.  A writer needs pen and paper and peace of mind.  That’s it.   Like walking, writing is a low threshold activity.  Anybody can start.  That doesn’t mean you’ll finish.  That doesn’t mean your work will be interesting to others.  But it’s cheap to begin.

Cheap, but not free.  There’s still a threshold for writing.  You need peace of mind–and this is sometimes difficult to achieve.  Like meditation, writing requires a certain inner peace.   It’s hard to write when you’re rushing around so fast that you don’t have time to think.  It’s hard to write when you’re overcome with anxiety or when you’re feeling obsessed by your to do list or when you can’t stop playing with your phone.   Sometimes the simplest activities are the most elusive.   You’re busy doing so many things that you get exhausted and you have nothing left to put on the page.  Writing lies in that strange area between doing and being.   You want to be peaceful, but you don’t want to be empty.

Write when you can remove yourself just a little from the demands of your life.   Allow yourself time to warm up.  Don’t expect yourself to jump in cold.  Inspiration does not always flow like running water.   Sometimes you have to walk for an hour to get to the spring, and then you have to fill your water jugs, one at a time.  Other times, you have to take a divining rod and spend days walking the land, looking for a place to dig a well.   Enjoy that walk and the time it takes.   Focus on getting the little things right.  Take pleasure in a good sentence.  Quiet your mind.

Of the three, peace of mind is by far the most important.

One Response to “Peace of Mind”

  1. Bruce Pilgrim says:

    Thank you, Ms. Goodman, for a very simple, encouraging article on something that had ben tempting me for many years, but has continued to elude me. It does remind me of reading, and how difficult that can be with a disquiet mind. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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