Friday, December 12, 2014

Thus I Have Heard

 I'll be posting excerpts from a longer project on mindful writing under posts titled "Thus I Have Heard." Your feedback and observations are welcome.

                    Thus I have heard. At one time, the Writer gathered an assembly of a thousand bloggers, a thousand poets, a thousand short story writers, a thousand screen play writers, a thousand authors of scholarly books, a thousand writers of magazine columns, a thousand troubadours, a thousand students who repeatedly failed required college composition, lined before him like single-spaced rows of mountains.
            They were gathered on rented folding chairs in the shared knowledge that a person’s ability to write is always present. A literate individual can write at any moment, in any place, using any type of utensil, paper and pen, magic markers, typing into a keyboard, or speaking into a voice recognition program, or to their smart phone.  And yet one doesn’t have to look far to find people who admit, often with great pain, that they are unable to write—students who can’t turn assignments in on time and who dread writing courses, book-less colleagues who worry about tenure, acquaintances who twist themselves into knots because of a New Year’s resolution to write a novel. Even the teachers of stuck writers are often themselves stuck. Scratch an academic, a theorist well known for talking about writing as a process once said, and chances are you’ll find a struggling writer.
                  One person arose from her seat and approaching the Writer asked, What is the suffering of writing and what is the cessation of that suffering? And the Writer said, the suffering of writing is caused by the failure to take advantage of the vacancy of the present moment, by acting as though the reader is physically present, by not paying attention to the present moment, and by contemplating a fictional audience and a fictional text instead of the actuality before one. Dear disciples, many people treat occasions of writing as occasions of public speaking. Thus they fail to take advantage of the emptiness of the moment and instead populate it with the shadowy figures of an anticipated audience. The suffering of writing is caused by overlooking the present for a strictly fictional future; it is a future that contains a hypothetical reader and a hypothetical finished final draft. The opposite of the suffering of writing is therefore possible when one notices the present moment to gain the privacy of writing and to take charge of the proximity of audience in one’s head. We notice the present, oh writers, to gain this freedom from the future but also to contact our internal talk, internal rhetoric, or intrapersonal dialog. We survey our internal to see how we are discussing our writing abilities with ourselves as well as to find potential content for the piece we seek to write.

What are the Four Noble Truths of Writing?

Your ability to write is always present.


The present moment contains all that you need in order to write.


Writing difficulties occur because of a lack of awareness of the present moment. In order to write, you need to practice mindful awareness of the present moment. Mindlessness is the standard or default position; a mindful writing practice can not be “allowed to happen” or passively arise. Mindlessness needs to be actively countered. An individual’s success or lack of success in writing can be traced back to that person’s relation to the present moment. 

In order to write without struggle, develop a practice that heightens your engagement with the present moment through the Sevenfold Path:
1.      Right Understanding
2.      Right Discipline
3.      Right Effort 
4.      Right Attentiveness
5.      Right Invention
6.      Right Acceptance
7.      Right Listening and Feedback

Upon hearing the Writer’s word, several disciples immediately Tweeted the discourse. 

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