Thursday, January 17, 2013

Writing Tips From a Zen Monk



By K. Gillespie 

Don’t you love it when you start reading an article, and you actually get shaky with excitement because it feels as if the author is speaking directly to you, and all you want to do is share the news with others?

This insightful and funny piece comes from Josh Swiller author of The Unheard, A Memoir of Deafness and Africa, whose goal is to “cultivate a peaceful and playful mind” and who is also a hospice worker and a Zen monk.

Swiller offers 12 Tips of Writing” and each one is a gem.

My favorites?

In writing you are undertaking a spiritual act. Trusting that mental slurry will clarify into something understandable and even readable takes profound faith. And it does on occasion. And that it does still amazes me, and I do believe things that require faith and provoke amazement are miracles and should be honored as such. Hence: sacrosanct. Don't be tweeting.”

Lest you feel intimidated by the whole “undertaking a spiritual act” business (and you thought you were just typing!), Swiller grounds you with this:

“Throughout the process, please recognize and celebrate the fact that writing is completely ridiculous…Does it matter whether your obvious artistic brilliance is recognized and understood and known? It does not, brother.”

So how can you undertake a spiritual act and understand what you’re doing is ridiculous at the same? It’s the razor’s edge. You have to approach writing like its sacred ritual, bringing to it your respectful and full attention, and yet, keep it playful and don’t take it too seriously. 

That’s the best mindset for any writer! And yes, it is possible.
Thanks to Josh Swiller for writing an article brimming with so much wisdom and depth.



3 comments:

  1. Karin, you have no idea how magical your timing is. I'm struggling with such fear about whether the mess that is my novel can cohere, so the words couldn't have been more apt!

    I love the part about no tweeting. And also about taking yourself so seriously and how it's really okay to be playful and hopeful.
    Loved it.

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  2. As always, Karin, an amazing post!! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. "...please recognize and celebrate the fact that writing is completely ridiculous..." This made me laugh and feel encouraged!

    Thanks, Karin, for a delightful post.

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