Sunday, August 04, 2013

What it takes to write


Sometimes it takes patience—the ability to simply sit and let your thoughts meander—to write.

No pen, no paper, no computer, just time unfolding with each breath as ideas and words come to you, and you let them go and watch as they drift out of sight, and wait for other ideas and words to appear.

Sometimes writing isn’t so much a choice as a necessity—you simply cannot not write—and sometimes patience isn’t a choice, either, but a necessary part of the process.

"Do you have the patience," asks Lao Tzu, "to wait until the mud settles and 
the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right 
action arises by itself?"

As anyone who has followed this blog regularly over the past half-dozen years knows, I’ve tried to keep to a regular schedule of writing blog posts every Sunday morning.

But since my surgery in April, I’ve pulled back to conserve my strength.  Instead of blogging, I’ve re-focused my energy, all in an effort to revise a manuscript, a project that I started long before the surgery.

The one thing that I’ve learned about writing is this: a writer needs to be compelled to write or the words will lack conviction, and, without energy, the words will fall flat on the page.

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m waiting for the mud to settle and the well to fill up. I’m waiting for the words to gather steam and energy.

And here’s something else that I’m doing: I’m reminding myself that waiting and patience is part of writing.

I try to remember that something is happening beneath the surface, even if I can’t see or feel it, the way roots grow, gaining depth before they’ve stored enough energy to put out a leaf, a stalk of green.

If you’re like me, and you need to harbor your energy to write, you’ll need to set priorities and decide how you want to use your strength.

As long as I continue to recover from surgery—and have to deal with the possible side effects of the radiation treatment that begins this week—I’ll need to be patient.

But here’s what I’ve discovered over the past few weeks: waiting is writing, only without words or paper.

It's part of what it takes to write: learning to "remain unmoving" until the right words arise by themselves.

For more info on patience, visit:

3 comments:

Lynne Buchanan said...

Loved your phrase "waiting is writing, only without words and paper." We are not just writers or artists when we sit down to work. It is something that informs our consciousness every moment, a way of viewing the world. Even when I don't have my camera I am noticing the world in a much different way than I used to, fully present to both my surface thoughts and the stirrings beneath.

Good luck this week! You will be in my thoughts and prayers...

Thanks so much for having the courage to still share with us while you are going through this challenge in your life. You are always a great source of inspiration to me.

Lev Raphael said...

Absolutely true. Without patience we cannot write, and waiting is a profound and essential part of the process.

Bruce Black said...

In the end we need to find a way to get the words on paper, but sometimes I think we forget that writing is more than just sitting at our desks putting words down.
The waiting is, as Lev says, "a profound and essential part of the process."
And as Lynn says, "We are not just writers or artists when we sit down to work. It is something that informs our consciousness every moment, a way of viewing the world."
Thanks so much, Lev, for stopping by and sharing your own insights into writing.
And thanks Lynn for sharing the wisdom that you've gleaned from your own work as a photographer and writer (and thanks, too, for the good wishes).