— written in BERLIN

It happened to the best of us. You have been writing thousands of words. It took you months. At first, you are pleased — happy even. Hell, those are the best words ever written! The next day, you read that piece of writing again and oh my… That thing is crap! I am going to burn it!

Wait! Do not burn your computer yet… You are not alone. Dickens, Kafka, Bulgakov — The list of known writers who burned (or tried to burn) their manuscripts is long.

But why did they do that? 

Because until somebody tells you that you are Bulgakov, you are just a human being who writes. And as a human being, it is natural during the writing process to be assailed by all sort of doubts and unpleasant thoughts. Like these:

This chapter is horrible! – Who am I to write a book?
How can I be so arrogant to even think that I can write a book?
What if nobody likes my novel? – What if my novel does not sell well?
What if, what if, what if…!?

Fuck it! And keep writing. I repeat: Fuck it! And keep writing.

How can Buddhism Help your writing?

They say that one learns a lot in moments of crisis. It is certainly true for me. Several years ago — it was a cold November in Berlin — I was going through a very hard time. My close friends knew this and one of them gave me a book: When things fall apart by Pema Chödrön.

I did not know it at that time, but this book would change my (inner) life and set me on a path of self-awareness and calmness.

… and guess what? It totally helped my writing.

1. Let go of judgment and fear

Hemingway never said those famous words “Write drunk, edit sober”. Yet, it seems that a little alcohol can stimulate creativity. No, I am not saying to buy two bottles of Vodka and get drunk and write. What I am saying is: Write courageously and without inhibitions. Let the words come out as they are, as fast as possible. Keep writing, do not judge, finish the story.

2. Write every day

… or anytime you can. The more regularly you write, the more natural your writing will become. Writing will be just like waking up, eating, or…

3. Write in, write out

Write like you breathe. Let it happen. 

4. Write with compassion

Feel your characters — feel their emotions as if they were yours; remember their actions as if they were memories.

5. Write to disarm the ego

Write often, write a lot. Do your best, then disconnect from the outcome. Forget about getting published, becoming rich, or pleasing the reader. Get in touch with your inner self and write from within.

Final Thought

A time will come when you will have to edit every comma, word, and sentence of your manuscript. You will need the skills of a scientist combined with those of an engineer. Before that time, let the words come and go freely.

Breathe in, breathe out. Quiet your mind, let go. Reach the magic within you. Write in the now.

The “Angel of Buenos Aires” photo was taken during one of my trips to South America.
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Phaedrus’ Journey

by Arturo Robertazzi

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