Zen and the Art of Writing a Damn Article

Amidst my absence from the site, I’ve gotten to thinking about the practice of writing. The act of sitting down and cranking out a predetermined amount of words each day, each week, or, if you’re like me, a paragraph or two on my iPhone notepad in the middle of a meeting on a Thursday. It isn’t ideal, but it works. Getting into the mood is tough, it’s not even writer’s block, more like writer’s impotence. I want to put my pen to paper, or fingers to the keys so bad but sometimes it just isn’t going to happen.

Some time ago when I was still in school, in some writing class, the professor asked what the first step we took to have a good writing session was. Answers included locales, substances, lighting, music, etcetera.

*Opens up a new tab to watch a quick skate video*

It’s weird, in order to do any writing, it seems like the writer in question needs to plan the perfect proposal. Readers of Hell of a Thing, imagine what the perfect proposal would be if you were on the receiving end. Honestly, I’m sure that what you are thinking was the perfect writing set-up for half of my class.

To start: music. Music is a huge factor in the creative process. Whether you’re a writer or even a musician, everyone looks to music for inspiration at some point. I like listening to classical, jazz, or anything instrumental when I write. It helps me focus, and I like like the drama in the crescendos of classical, depending on the composer. If I listen to music with lyrics while I write, I’ll focus on the words, and not my own and end up writing some freak hybrid of a story that will just make me sound like I have ADD or something like that.

*New tab. Have you seen this music video? Right up Kirk’s alley*

But even with the addition of music, I still find it hard to sit down and get those words flowing. Some turn to Ernest Hemingway’s misattributed quote, “Write drunk, edit sober,” for inspiration and pour themselves a glass of whatever spirit or ale they have on hand. This has been a go to method for ages. The likes of Poe, Kerouac, Bukowski, and more have been known to take a swig of something before starting to create. Ive been known to do the same as you can see from a few past articles on Hell of a Thing. The act of changing brain chemistry through libations in order to write is one seeped in irresponsibility but one that has historically been artistically necessary for some, and tends to bring out a more honest, creative, and engaging voice.

But honestly, I think that’s what makes a good writing session. It’s not one thing alone. It’s the presence of a distraction. Whether it’s music, or pouring another glass of something or other, or even changing tabs and watching a skate video. That changing of gears allows the writer to switch the brain to another thought process, focus on something else for a split second, and get back to work with a fresh mind. More often than not I’ll come back from a quick distraction with a new idea or a better way to word something. Same goes with how one interprets something that was just read.

A fresh mind is one that produces the best work.

With that being said, listen to this and come back to the article, I imagine you’ll look at it in a new way. Not because of the song (I just really like it), but just because of the distraction.

Or not. Who knows?



2 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Writing a Damn Article

  1. Hey Ian!
    Great point – I get writers impotence a ton of the time! It is just hard – as with any creative process – to pump new content out everyday day or week.
    But I do resonate with your sentiment – that it is the presence of a distraction that can inspire.
    I often am editing photos while writing – it just taps into a different part of the brain that may trigger new forms of creativity!
    Thank you for sharing this, it was a great read 🙂


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