As you probably know if you’ve been around these parts for very long, Beams and Struts is an experiment in collective intelligence. Our ever growing community is continually looking for ways to expand ideas in both depth and breadth.
As a group of writers, one of the greatest challenges we face is...writing. There, I said it. It’s true. The mechanic’s car breaks down, the chef’s ordering takeout and the writers just ain’t writing like they want to. So TJ, who’s got the greatest number of published pieces on this site and who takes himself pretty seriously as an artist, suggested that everyone should get on in a room together and Shut the Fuck up and Write. Sold.
Not only are these sessions incredibly supportive and valuable, they actually build capacity that can be applied solo and also moved into other areas. This practice enables us to commit more fully to our own writing outside of the group for a couple of reasons. First, habit and momentum are formed and so the resistance that can typically come with getting started on something is diminished. Secondly, an interior muscle begins to build when you’re actually in a room full of people shutting up and writing. That impulse to get online and fuck around on facebook, when you reach a sentence that’s just not laying down the way you want it to, cannot be fulfilled on. The impulse to suddenly prioritize something that didn’t seem all that important and hour ago cannot be fulfilled on. Nor can the impulse to take a nap, make a sandwich, clean the house, get off, call a friend or myriad other distractions that a writer might use to not have to look down at the page and confront that this paragraph is totaly banal, insipid and fucking lame.
When with a group of people whom you’ve just stated what you’re working on and you’ve committed to keep going on it for the next hour, you really have to deal with yourself and your impulses. That’s a workout right there, one that serves immensely the next time you’re sitting your ass in your chair all by yourself. Those impulses arise and you suddenly know the sweet sweet world on the other side of them. You know them as fleeting, you become a warrior for your art and you press on, allowing crap sentences to hang unfinished, knowing that you can come back to them. You let brilliant ideas explode out without much structure, knowing that you have the depth, strength and agility to dance with each aspect, put them in their proper places and that it will all come together.
When we engage in a practice, awake and with devotion, we build the muscle it takes to sustain what we’re doing and go deeper and further. When we practice with others, it ripples out and supports our practice as individuals.
Bergen gets together with other 'spritual athletes' once a year to meditate for 24 hours.
A fellow mother and I share an early morning text message to let each other know that we're up hours before the kids to write, meditate and center before our day.
A great question to begin asking with friends and colleagues is, in what ways can we practice together to support that which we really want to grow?