About writing & not writing

If you are to be a real writer, you must write for no reason. You must not write for fame or approval or money, because then you have made your art into a prop for selfish gains. If your writing be truly a gift, then it must be received as a gift and not taken by force. If you attempt to steal words from the Muse, what you write will be wooden and dead and mental and not genuine. Then, even if the people were to pay money to read your words, they would quickly forget them and their lives would be the same as before. Your friends might smile and say kind things, but no one will stand in front of you and weep. Art, when true, draws no applause. Great art is born from silence and, thus, invokes a speechless experience.

Pay homage to all the tattered papers of your life and go be silent somewhere. But do not go looking for words. You might carry a pencil as your talisman, but carry it only because it feels good in your hand. tweet

You must welcome silence into your life for your writing to come. Go into the woods and sit on a stump as you did as a twelve-year-old. Remember that cold day long ago when you sat beneath a leafless tree and geese flew so low you heard their wings, and you wrote then something wonderful, so wonderful you kept the paper until it was tattered and lost. Pay homage to all the tattered papers of your life and go be silent somewhere. But do not go looking for words. You might carry a pencil as your talisman, but carry it only because it feels good in your hand. Go simply for the silence. Out of that silence, that ever-unknown awesome silence, comes originality. A mind that is full of thoughts can know no new thoughts, so let the mind rest and settle. Turn into the wind, into the sky, into the earth, and go be other than you think you are. Let yourself drift away into something brand new; imagine and dream, as a child in a treehouse would.

And in an unplanned moment you will find yourself writing; perhaps after a long pause–days, months, years–but if you become silent, and writing be your true expression, then words will come again. You kneel and say a thank-you prayer to that which you don’t understand. This is all you can do… Or you can force it, and become like all the other ordinary men who write down what they think others wish them to say. If you become silent, you will write down what is impossible for you not to say.

And if the words do not come today, then at least you will have been the wind, the sky, the earth for a while. And you will have loved something. That will have been enough.

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