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Thursday, 18 February 2010

Zen Pen

Zen wisdom come in sayings or  the koan- a lightning bolt of impenetrable, illogical profundity. Answers are not required as the enigmatic sayings and axioms are intended to induce enlightenment by moving the mind to a different position. This is called a mental 'precipice'.

Whether you leap off the precipice or sit and admire the view, the Zen approach benefits the writing process. If your writing sessions sound more like "Arghhhhh!" instead of "Ahh!" read on.

1. "Water that is too pure has no fish" (Hong Zicheng)
You may have created a great protagonist/ antagonist. But no one is 101% goody-two shoes or evil. Not only are these characters stock, two-dimensional and boring, they are also implausible.  Characters are conflicted and flawed, they are rattling bags of contradictions and they transform over the course of a story. Or even a sentence.

2.  "Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done - it's just doing it" (Alan Watts)
Story plans : structures or strait-jackets? Try not to think of extremes in the early stages. Instead, put your story in an open space and explore it. You don't have to know all the answers yet.

3. "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound?" (unknown)
A koan-like philosophy question but not a Zen koan.  Can something exist without it being perceived?
You may have manuscripts tucked away somewhere, stories you don't show to anyone. Without exposure they are as good as non-existent. Go on, dig them out, have another look. Since you wrote them, you owe them their existence.

4. "In serving, serve.
       In fighting, kill."   (Jinzu)
Let me append another line, "In writing, write."
I see this as a warning against multitasking, which detracts from your intention. We all do it, but perhaps it is better to turn off the technological distractions and just concentrate on your work. 

5. "The reverse side also has a reverse side" (proverb)
As a writer you are encouraged to be investigative and look beyond the obvious. There is never just one aspect or story to anyone or anything.


Lua said...

I loved how you adopted the Zen Principles to writing! I especially agree with you on #3 : “can something exist without it being perceived?” At some point, we have to take a leap of faith, don’t we? :)

Windy Lynn Harris said...

Great inspirations today. Thanks for the boost!

~Jamie said...

This is ever so timely for me because I am supposed to be all srots of zen right now.

Ugh, I am no good at Zen!

JUST ME said...

This website is awesome!! Thanks for visitng :)

Janna Qualman said...

I really appreciate #1 of your tips here. Thanks!

And thanks, too, for visiting my blog, Something She Wrote. It was great to have you play along with my FIVE game. :)

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