WRITING TIP: The trouble with trying

Why use prompts and turn on a timer to write without stopping? Because otherwise we’ll be trying — trying to do something good or wise or insightful. Trying to be clever or artful or smart. By writing on a prompt where all we have to do is finish the sentence, that part of us doing all the trying has a hard time taking over, and this gives our exploration a chance to reach below the surface to the realm of soul. Aldous Huxley put it brilliantly: “What has to be relaxed is the personal self, the self that tries too hard, that thinks it knows what is what, that uses language. This has to be relaxed in order that the multiple powers at work within the deeper and wider self may come through and function as they should. In all psychophysical skills we have this curious fact of the law of reversed effort: the harder we try, the worse we do the thing.”