writing without a hook


A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation


Writing a book without a hook

I have always viewed my writing as a vital part of my self-care practice. The three most important, ongoing parts are my yoga and exercise practice, my mediation practice and my writing practice.  I have found that the three working together can create a calm, intentional person who is grateful for all that he has been given. Over the years though, my writing practice and my meditation practice have become more alike.

No, I do not write while sitting in diamond throne position. I mean that the sense of energized calm, and mental clarity I experience after both is remarkably similar. Maybe that energized calm has always been there. Or maybe the experiencing of that state of mind, is the reward of the practices themselves.

I wonder if the fish are biting?

I recently found a book on meditation that views meditation in a way similar to how I view writing/meditation practice and explains and clarifies my own thoughts back to me.

In the book,  A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation, the author tells the story of a Zen master who fished without a hook.  It struck me then and there that that is what I do when I write! I go fishing without a hook.

Fishing Hook Vinyl Decal image 1
You need one to open your book, but not to write it.

There is no goal in sight, nothing to catch, no best seller, no Oprah book club to cap it all off. That is finite, closed, heading the wrong direction. I see it as a place where you will find a hooked fish on the shore, gasping and dying.

Whereas the journey inward is infinite, never ending, renewed every day with every breath. In the book the author relates that we can find “a sense of expansion, a sense of opening up, rather than narrowing down’ of the mind as we deepen our meditations.” He is describing mediation here, but that is how I feel when I write. Yes, I am writing a book with pages and chapters and characters. That is what my eyes, fingers and five senses are doing when I flip open my laptop- cast my fishing line that has no hook.

As I write and rewrite, I head into my mind, not into the finite laptop screen. That is just where I leave the mile markers on the journey. Where the line without the hook hits the water is where the real writing is, the part where my mind expands, moves in the water, unbothered by the fish.

Does that makes sense? I’m not saying my books are stream of consciousness or experimental in the way that William S. Burroughs cut-up method was. I am not saying this is even a viable method or technique for writing a book as such. I’m talking something downstream from that (staying with fishing metaphors). This is more about creating a mind that can sustain a projects like writing a novel.

I have slept a few times since writing this post, as I always do. That allowed me the distance to see the post from a different viewpoint. I read it as saying that the end product, the actual book is not important to me.

But It is. I want the book (insert current project here) itself to be well written, fun to read and I hope it sells a bit. This is just putting it all in context. It’s why I like blogging, there is time and space to do that.

I would rather sit peacefully on the banks of a quiet lake at dawn, than spend the morning casting, reeling, baiting the hook, moving from spot to spot, and ultimately allowing a fish to decide whether I used my time wisely or not.

It also helps to simplify my life to view writing as a meditation almost entirely. I still practice meditation separately of course. In fact, I just bought a meditation cushion. I’m getting a little old to sit on the diamond throne without one.

And, of course, I will write. I’m writing now. But the Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation has clarified my perspective and helped me view writing and meditation as a more unified practice. Now, I have one less thing to do in this world, which is always good. Still cant’ remember when I last had the time to go fishing though, with or without a hook.

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DISCLAIMER ALERT- Something fishy about this post? No. This post has nothing to do with my YA fish story novella, Ironjaws, which is still due out by year’s end.

Comment now or think it over-both would be appreciatiated.

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