Friday, March 14, 2008

koan practice

This is a blog dedicated to writing practice. Not only will I provide writing exercises, but I am giving myself the opportunity to practice just by the act of doing it everyday. I was practicing anyway, but to be honest, I was not completely focused about it. In fact I was often allowing myself to write gibberish, repeat myself over and over, or sometimes get lost in space. All of which is okay. Whatever you have to do to get yourself to the page. Remember no word is precious there are and should be plenty more where that one came from. But what I have to practice now (besides not getting too attached as per yesterday's blog) (and just plain writing) is honing my focus. Focusing on the writing, something in the writing, and perhaps even an audience. 

For a while last year when I woke up and began my writing practice I would start just getting the crap out and then I would read a koan from a book I have (The Song of the Bird by Anthony De Mello). When I started I didn’t know what it would do. I just thought it would put something in so I could get something out. I was experimenting with practice and as a mindfulness exercise it seems like a good thing. The amazing thing that happened is different aspects of my novel began to be released in the writing. I would be musing on the whole thing with my pen and all of a sudden my character would be talking to me, making some connection between him and another character in the book. It felt like a flowering. I began to be excited everyday to see who would speak to me next. And even with expecting it and hoping for it something surprising would come out of it. A gentle aspect of the bad guy. Or anger that I didn’t realize my main character felt. I should go back to doing that. Or perhaps I should just continue blogging because I really had no plan to get to koans when I sat down here. (I should watch out for all those shoulds is what I should do). One of the best things about wring is what an adventure it always is. It is an adventure that takes place in your own mind.

As Always,

Writing Exercise:
Here is a koan. Read it twice. Out loud if possible.

One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate, the Buddha called to him, "Manjusri, Manjusri, why do you not enter?" Manjusri replied, "I do not see myself as outside. Why enter?"

Now write. Consider the koan in your writing. Keep at it even beyond where you think there is anything to explore. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t relate to you or your project. It is just a place to focus your psychic energy as you write. It is a practice.