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Greet the blank page with stillness, and other ways to thrive in the writing life | Carolyn Flynn


Even when we proclaim we want to write that story that matters most to us, we resist. We declare that intention, again and again, and – wait for it! – the temptations and distractions roll in like thunderclouds.

Stillness is vital to us as writers, and part of living and thriving in the writing life is to cultivate the skills to bring it forth. Sometimes, it seems like … well, like we are helpless beneath the storm of frenzy that seems to dominate modern culture.

I want that, and I want that for you, and that is why I joined up with Terry Price to develop “Turning Lead into Gold: The Alchemy of Story,” a writing retreat in Taos, New Mexico, on July 29-Aug. 2. Together, we are The Writing Space.

The true art of discovering the path to the heart of your story is to greet the page with stillness. Writing is an act of emptying out. Recognize that, and respect it for what it is and what it is not.

Emptying out requires that we get lost, lose a little of our identity – that is, the shell we function in most of the time, in the world. So no matter how much we feel the stir inside to write that story that matters the most, we are leaving the comfort zone. We are becoming someone else.

But also see that emptying out is an emptying out of the chatter, the dreck, the clutter of our minds. It creates the open space within so that we can see with new eyes and attune to something more than the surface of life. And that’s what we are seeking to write — something that transcends the dreck, something that is becoming art.

“Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”

Donald Barthelme

In my next post, I’ll discuss how the emptying out is an act of generosity.