In this hyperconnected, hyperproductive world, we often find ourselves caught in the clutches of endless to-do lists. But fear not, dear creatives, for Niksen offers a momentary escape. Niksen is a Dutch concept translating to “doing nothing”. We need to embrace the art of idleness! Take a break from the warp-speed of life and allow your mind to wander freely. Sit back, relax, and let the celestial winds of inspiration gently caress your weary soul.
Once you get rolling on a good bit of writing, you don’t want to stop. After all, the more you create, the better your end product will be, right? However, you might just be what the Japanese call a manuke, or fool. This is a person without the awareness of ma — a philosophy that cherishes the space between things. In order to writer better, writers must harness the power of ma.
Writer and comic book creator, Alan Moore, has a unique view on writing. He thinks writers should equip themselves with four weapons before trekking into literary battle. Previous posts covered the first two weapons, the sword of discernment and the pentacle of earthly knowledge. His third weapon related to the Tarot suit of cups and the core element of water. He encourages everyone to take up these weapons for writers and fully immerse themselves in the mindset and emotions of their characters, even if those characters are vile and depraved.
Comic book legend Alan Moore (known for V for Vendetta and The Watchmen) talks about how artists and writers need weapons to be successful. The first weapon (featured in the last post) is represented by pentacles in the Tarot. The second, more vital weapon, is the sword, which represents intellect. It is this sword of discrimination that allows us to differentiate a good idea from a lousy one.
We’re told to hustle, grind, and maximize every moment. We’re like soldiers in a battle, preoccupied with objectives rather than why the fight is happening. Perhaps we’re missing something important by rushing all the time? Maybe we need to waste time.
All writer’s know the dread of staring at a blank page. The ticking of the clock and nothing gets written. Time is slipping away and we are producing nothing. It all seems like a waste. While we can’t always get the words to flow when we want them, we can flip our attitude and utilize Yūgen and Mono No Aware to fight writer’s block
As a modern society, we are obsessed with productivity. Wasting time is seen as a cardinal sin. Yet sometimes the greatest discoveries happen when we take the time to look deeper. Sometimes discovery starts as a terrible idea.
We all try to avoid mistakes whenever possible. We even smirk when Siri mistranslates our words. That strive for perfection in art or writing seems to drive us. Yet art that does exactly what the artist wants can also be tiresome and boring. It turns out that your mistakes can make great art.
So many self help books and gurus focus on how to fix yourself and turn you into the person you’ve always wanted to be. But this implies that you’re somehow broken. That the problems you struggle with were hardwired into you from the start. What if all this is hogwash? Then you could stop fixing yourself and start living your life.
Our brain is like the hedge maze from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Too easily we can wander the twists and turns of our thoughts and then get utterly lost. Yet as we age, our brains do some amazing things — they prune away neural connections. A baby, in fact, has more neural connections than an adult brain, but is often helpless because of a plethora of choices. Only by pruning, can we make these connections faster. You can use the technique of habit stacking to increase your writing time but capitalizing on the brain’s ability for synaptic pruning.