First, get settled. Breathe. Big, deep, full breaths, taken slowly. Clear your mind of words. Be wordless. Then, open your eyes and write whatever comes out of you, and keep writing without taking your hands from the paper or the keyboard for fifteen minutes. Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling. Just write. Every day. Fifteen minutes. Regardless. Watch what happens to your level of craft when you work on a project. Why? Because stories live in our bodies and we need to feel our fingers moving in the process of creation every day. Your hands are your interpretive tools. They bring your spirit out in words and language.
— Richard Wagamese from Embers
There are words in us
that don’t know how
to get to the surface.
Words hidden in our marrow
afraid to show themselves
concerned the world will end
if they are uttered.
Words that cross
the river of pain
that wish to tell the world
how much love is hidden
just below our fear.
And some of these words
sometimes find their way
to live among us
in the trust to hear them,
words that spin our compass
anger and loneliness redirected
by insight and forgiveness,
words like mercy and compassion,
words we never trusted to exist.
Words hide in the strangest places,
under stones, in clouds,
in a moment of a friend’s kindness,
in a moment to your generosity;
in poems beginning their first line
climbing happily into the heart singing
how close the moon comes
when we trust the night.
Words even hide in other words.
Mercy hides in the hesitant pause,
questioning how much can be trusted
to the tongue, to the pen.
Invoking their true voice
rise to the surface
to sing their original song.
— Stephen Levine from Becoming Kuan Yin
No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear
I am staring out of the window in an extremely dark mood, feeling helpless. Then a friend, a fellow artist, calls to wish me happy holidays. He asks, “How are you?” And instead of “Oh, fine—and you?”, I blurt out the truth: “Not well. Not only am I depressed, I can’t seem to work, to write; it’s as though I am paralyzed, unable to write anything more in the novel I’ve begun. I’ve never felt this way before, but the election….” I am about to explain with further detail when he interrupts, shouting: “No! No, no, no! This is precisely the time when artists go to work—not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!”
… There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.
Blessing for a Writer
May you hear in your own stories
the moan of wind around the corners
of half-forgotten houses
and the silence in rooms you remember.
May you hear in your own poems
the rhythms of the cosmos,
the sun, the moon and the stars
rising out of the sea and returning to it.
May you, too, pull darkness out of light
and light out of darkness.
May you hear in your own voice
the laughter of water falling over stones.
May you hear in your own writing
the strangeness, the surprise of mystery,
the presence of ancestors, spirits,
voices buried in the cells of your body.
May you have the courage to honor
your own first language, the music of those
whose lives inhabit your own.
May you tell the truth and do no harm.
May you dare in your own words to touch
the broken heart of the world.
May your passion for peace and justice be wise:
remember — No one can argue with story.
May you study your craft as you would study
a new friend or a long time, much loved lover.
And all the while, lost though you may be in the forest,
drop your own words on the path like pebbles
and write your way home.
― Pat Schneider from How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice
- To Enter the Song (The Real Challenge in Creativity)
- The Artist’s Creed
- I Want To Write Of The Light
- Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention
- A Canvas
- Work is Love Made Visible;