“If I create from the heart nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”
“You can’t think and hit at the same time. A full mind is an empty bat.”
Marc Chagall and Yogi Berra — strange bedfellows, aren’t they? And yet, in these two quotes, they seem to be saying essentially the same thing: that sometimes our minds get in the way of our creativity and success. And strange as it may seem, what holds true for visual artists and baseball players also often seems to be true for us as writers: In order to get where we want to go, we need to relax our minds — to empty them of all striving and intention — and let our hearts and deep inner resources take over.
Someone once said that we write a first draft with our hearts and then edit it with our heads. We all know the wonderful feeling of first discovering a story that we want to write — sometimes, it just pours out of us, from some spontaneous, passionate place. So we write and write, not worrying about whether everything makes perfect sense or all the pieces fit together.
When we’re done, we have a rough diamond — one we need to polish with our critical, editorial minds. But it’s those first stirrings and outpourings that give what we’ve written life and energy. We may need to tame it, but without that spark, it’s not likely that readers will connect with what we’ve written.
One of the reasons I like to write at the end of the day is that I’m not just physically tired, but mentally tired as well. My mental censor is tired so it lets down its guard and gets out of the way. When I write in this state, my words seem to flow easily as if they were simply waiting to be plucked from the ether and I’m just getting them down on paper. My head is full of something, but whatever it is, it’s not joining the party and trying to take over.
Has that ever happened to you? It’s a great feeling isn’t it? At some point in
the future, what you’ve written may need some work, but for now, you’re in a state of flow.
So often, we strain our brains in our writing sessions, pushing and prodding our minds, when what’s really needed — what’s really more fruitful — is just to “freelax” as Alex used to say. So let’s allow our minds to rest and our creativity rise — and write on.