NaNoWriMo and “…gentle concentration.”

This is passage is from Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird (pgs. 112-113).  It’s a book about the writing life, and it’s a wonderful read, along with anything else by Anne Lamott.

You get your confidence and intuition back by trusting yourself, by being militantly on your own side.  You need to trust yourself, especially on the first draft, where amid the anxiety and self-doubt, there should be a real sense of your imagination and your memories walking and woolgathering, tramping the hills, romping all over the place.  Trust them.  Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right.  Just dance.

You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind.  The rational mind doesn’t nourish you.  You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true.  Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.

Sometimes intuition needs coaxing, because intuition is a little shy.  But if you try not to crowd it, intuition often wafts up from the soul or subconscious, and then becomes a tiny fitful little flame.  It will be blown out by too much compulsion and manic attention, but will burn quietly when watched with gentle concentration.

So try to calm down, get quiet, breathe, and listen.  Squint at the screen in your head, and if you look, you will see what you are searching for, the details of the story, its direction–maybe not right this minute, but eventually.  If you stop trying to control your mind so much, you’ll have intuitive hunches about what this or that character is all about.  It is hard to stop controlling, but you can do it.

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