Saturday, September 19, 2009

Slice of the Writing Life: Not Writing

Someone asked Writing Down the Bones author Natalie Goldberg: “What are the most common excuses you hear at your workshops for people not writing?”

Goldberg’s response: It goes something like: “I’m afraid to let myself out. I’m afraid to follow what I really want. I can’t do it right now, but it’s my deepest dream. I can’t do it because I have a family and I have to make a living. I am scared that I’m not good enough.”

I don’t pay much attention at that level. All I hear is an excuse. In other words, these people want something but they’re not willing to step forward and grab it. Over the last 17 years that I’ve been teaching writers, what I’ve watched is that people don’t let themselves burn. They don’t let their passion come alive. They don’t feed it. To me it doesn’t really matter what the excuse is.

Now I can hear you saying, “Well, but what if the excuse is true? What if the person does have six children and they work two jobs in order to feed them?” What I say is that if the person burns to write, they will have to find time to do it, even if it’s one half hour a week. You have to somehow address your whole life. You can’t put it off till you’re 60. You might die at 59.

You know, we all have tremendously strong monkey minds that are very creative, that can make endless excuses. “I really can’t write today because my daughter is having trouble in school. I really can’t write because I have a stomachache every time I write.” Monkey mind will always think of new reasons why we can’t write. What I teach is if you want to write, Do it. Now.

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