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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Keep Your Hand Moving

There is a quote in the writing world that says, "Writing is not about thinking something up, it’s about getting something down.” This is important. We often sit down to write and we hesitate. We get our little mind involved much more than in needs to get involved, we wonder if so and so will be offended, whether another so and so will find it inspiring. We strain and struggle and often stop because it’s too hard. Or more often, with all our busyness and resistance, we don’t even get as far as sitting down. Instead, we fold the laundry, turn on the television or make that “very important” phone call.

As I write this, I watch myself delete and hesitate. Rather than getting something down directly, I try to think something up. What I could do, instead, is start from where I am, from what’s in front of me or inside of me. I could slow down and simply begin with the unmade bed, the rain that is slapping the roof in a persistent rhythm, the unpacked suitcase that has been nagging at me for close to a week now. What if I slowed down enough to watch my cat, asleep beside me, breathing slowing, relaxed and at ease?

We don’t need to judge it as it goes down, when we do that we get caught up and stuck, and often end up stopping before we really start.

It’s tempting for me to stop right now. My belly is growling insistently, my littlest one is already up and in the kitchen with daddy, the smell of cooking pancakes has made its way down the hall and into my bedroom-- breakfast sounds better than fighting with my tired mind.

And then there are those voices that always say the same old thing. You know them, the ones that tell you your writing is boring and unoriginal and dumb. I’ve been writing for years, and so far, I haven’t been able to ditch these ugly critics. I’ve decided, though, that rather than fighting them or running from them, I must develop a relationship with them; nod to them, oh, there you are again, and then keep my hand moving. The key is to allow them their comments while not allowing ourselves to be tossed away.

Judgment can come later; it has no place in first draft writing. We must learn to separate the creator and the editor and just get it down. We must learn to get out of our own way, and allow writing to do writing. For now, trust that if you give your mind a rest, something may arise from a much deeper place, a place that doesn't care about good or bad, a place that only knows how to tell the truth.

Don’t worry, those critics can voice their opinions later in the process--assure them that their time will come, but not yet, not in this early stage. For now, just keep your hand moving.


  1. "a place that doesn't care about good or bad, a place that only knows how to tell the truth"

    "Keep the pen moving"

    The foundation practices, like the breath.


  2. I love this! So true. My favorite, "Breakfast sounds better than fighting with my tired mind." Oh, I know that so well. Keep it up, lady!

    Much Love,


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