An Idea: Slow Writing

One of the immaturities of my writing right now, I believe, is my impulsive tendency to rush right to the point. I think good writing is more patient than that. It’s not about the end point. It’s about the journey you went through to get there, both as a writer and a reader.

I think our words have become excessively simple, and shallow. We have lost the cultural habit of artful speech.

Which is to say… my own words have become simple and shallow. I want to create a practice of artful speech.

I have just recently begun trying to practice slow eating – a topic I want to write more about, another day. Now it is occurring to me that “slow writing” is also something I could practice. Right now, I begin to practice. Take the pace down a notch. Feel into the quietness. Be relaxed, tranquil. Truly, there need be no rush. I am here as much for myself as for the message I hope to connect with and convey to others. After all, this is something I am spending my time doing. If I am to keep doing it… I must learn to make it an act of great enjoyment. I might as well make it artful, as though I am writing a letter. Great letters, or maybe any great pieces of writing, are like great conversations; they meander.

So often in my creative time I am frantically grabbing onto the ideas when they come. I try to pen them as fast as my hands can move, greedily, with fear, as though they will run away from me, will fall from my fingers like sand.

I think that mindset takes all of the art out of my writing and other pursuits. It reduces my writing to something strictly utilitarian.

When I stop and think about it, I have to ask myself: How much of my life is like that? How often am I fighting to keep up some self-manufactured pace for fear of… falling behind? Failing? Missing something?

What if that is what makes me quit things? Trying to hold too high of a bar. Losing the journey for the end goal.

Maybe we need to court the activities we take part in. Take our time with them. Really participate in the process. If my activities had a spirit to them: Why would they want to stay in relationship with me if I habitually approach them greedily and with impatience? How will I convince my muse to dance with me if I approach her with fear, crying out “gimme!” like a child?

Right now: I notice a strong impulse to eat. There is hunger, and also fear. Fear that time is slipping away from me. Fear that I won’t get enough sleep and that it will set me off on the wrong foot tomorrow. Fear that if I don’t eat I will be tired tomorrow. Fear of some dim future darkness that lurks around the corner, the results of my choices that haven’t yet come to fruition. Fear tells me, also, that the writing I’ve been doing thus far is too… unstructured. Too stream-of-consciousness. Not fit to publish. That it’s time to switch gears and get serious.

I sit in the middle of all my mental noise. It is my own noise, mine to make peace with, mine to create good habits with. How do I respond to my thoughts? That is real life. More than responding to our external stimulus, we only ever are having our own personal process inside ourselves, and responding to that. We are ever wrestling with our perceptions and judgments, trying to mold ourselves towards a way of seeing and acting that seems ‘better’.

We are always practicing at living. My coaches used to tell me, ‘Practice makes permanent.’ Not perfect… but permanent. In the same way, I will never become perfect at life. But my actions can and will become habitual, and eventually permanent.

It is difficult to change our practices. It is difficult for me to stay here, to sit and write, when I feel hunger and fear and my base impulses to follow my existing habits. Yet there is an aliveness in it.

I have to think part of my ability to stay in this moment is that I let myself slow down with my writing process tonight. When we slow down, we literally give ourselves more time to respond to things. When we rush, we are impulsive, which means we act on our impulses and habits.

Exploring slowness is like letting a flower blossom in my life. I can’t wait to see it unfurl – and yet, wait I must! I must go slow, or I will miss it.

It’s like meditation. When we notice something interesting is happening, that we are dropping into a new state of consciousness, we can get excited and try to grab it; yet once we do, we are leaving our meditation, and it is gone.

I do my best. It is late. I choose to let this writing be imperfect, to put it out there, and to put myself in bed, where I hope a rejuvenating, dreamy sleep will cradle me until morning. I will melt into the great Mother’s warm bosom to rest, and all around me will be peace.

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