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A Buddhist Approach

In a way, this technique is the marriage of rational-emotive therapy and Buddhism.

Joseph Sestito in his book, Write for your Lives, applied rational-emotive therapy with a healthy dose of Buddhism too. He suggests that we create most of our fears and angst by the way we think about ourselves, others and our chores.

For example, if I am anxious about writing, it is something that I am telling myself. He uses the same seven distortions that the cognitive therapists use — over-generalization, labeling, emotional reasoning, catastrophizing, personalization, jumping to conclusions, discounting the positives, mental filters, all or nothing thinking and should statements.

But he also lists ten ways that Buddhists have discovered we drive ourselves nuts– the common things we tell ourselves about writing— “I am too young to write” “I am too old to write now” “I don’t have enough time” and other distortions. You will find yourself in this list, I guarantee it.

Interestingly, he recommends writing no more than 2 hours a day. That’s when we will still be fresh. It makes sense.

This book is also rich in forms to use to track our thinking, keep track of submissions and rejections, and more. He shows us how to celebrate our rejections.

The book is heavily slanted towards Buddhism and should be a wonderful addition to the library of a writer who is interested in Buddhism.

Another lesson comes from Japan. It’s the notion of kaizen.

This material comes from Robert Maurer’s One Small Step Can Change Your Life– the Kaizen Way. For example, I wasn’t in the mood to write yesterday so I told myself I could stop after three sentences. I did. But I also told myself I could check over this website and I was tired– series of migraines– and I told myself I could stop after ten minutes. I did the whole job. Taking tiny steps takes away the fear of change. It makes the whole thing a game. So I can allow myself to read one poem and think about changing the entire thing using creative tools that I’ve collected over the years. By stopping at a single poem, I am able to start and often finish a new poem. Otherwise the job is overwhelming.

Maurer also quotes Steinbeck who said, “ When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.”

So what small step can you do today to move yourself closer to your writing dream?

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