One of the ideas most pervasive in writing is that Writing is Hard, that it requires suffering. It absolutely does take dedication, showing up, study, all the things any discipline requires, but I would argue that it should not be consistently difficult. Sure you might have a hard day, a hard stretch of the book (I am always ready to throw out a book at approximately 85% of the way through the rough draft), but it should mostly be an engaging, energizing, maybe even thrilling process.
How? Ease up, relax into your body, your knowledge, the place where you are right now. Try a tai chi approach to the process.
A couple of years ago an old acquaintance of Christopher Robin invited him to the opening of his new tai chi studio, which led to our taking an introductory workshop. Three years later, we are still practicing.
We fell in love with the space first of all, a brick room paved with buttery wooden floors. Sifu Michael has an exactly perfect voice for his calling, a voice that makes it all seem so easy, and so non-threatening. ** He often says, as his students imitate him in our awkward and unawkward ways, “you can’t know what you don’t know,” and “just do it the best you can,” and “practice is how we learn.”
Tai chi is not well understood here in the west, where we are eager to turn everything into a competition (just can’t get over the idea of competitive yoga—um, you’re kidding, right?). Most of us have seen the slow, dance-like movements of the form, mostly performed by old people in parks in China.
I am still a beginner, feeling my way around the tippy tip of the vast iceberg of knowledge that the discipline encompasses–but here is what I know, and what I want to share in terms of writing: tai chi teaches ease. Ease in the body to begin with, then ease in movement, then ease in tapping into the energies of the earth so you don’t have to use up all of your own, then—if you so choose and you have some to worry about– ease of repelling enemies.
How does that relate to writing? Simple: writing should also be a practice of ease, starting from exactly where you are right now.