Writing without writing

I love it when my friends send me a link out of the blue. Links usually contain articles, blog posts, podcast episodes, or youtube clips. The more random, the better. It feels like a surprise gift. This week, a friend sent me a piece written by a young poet, Ocean Vuong.

“The Japanese have this idea of the color of a poem. Bashō talks often about the colors of poems. I think what he means by that is the moods and the tones, the sort of aesthetic principles of them. … It’s important for me to figure out and embody these moods or these colors before I sit down to write. … You can’t just sit down and wing it. Those ideas have to be developed through time, and the best way is to just live your life but tend to the work mentally. Tend to it while you’re doing your dishes, while you’re showering, taking a dog for a walk.”

One may be concerned that the adaptation of this mindset would lead to a chronic distraction. The kind of artist who ALWAYS seems zoned out and not really present. Their body is here, but their mind is with the art.

But I think what he really tried to say is that you need to be able to fall in love with the subject of your writing. “Tending to the work mentally” doesn’t mean you always have to think about it. You take time and build a relationship with it. Just like how my sweet friend was able to think of me at her moment of casual internet browsing as my existence is an inhabitant of her mind, you need to be able to invite your subject to your life and make a cozy room for it.

Of course, you try to write because you love writing. But maybe our way of loving has not been so successful. Perhaps we loved like a tiger mom does, micromanaging every single word and criticizing every mistake while imposing a strict rule like “must finish in an hour. Otherwise, shame on you.” Perhaps we loved like an obsessive ex-boyfriend did, not giving enough space and time. I love writing, but I treated it like summer break homework. You know, the diary writing homework you procrastinate until the last day because you don’t know WHY you have to write this. Or the homemade science project which starts with great ambition but ends with a poor incomplete experiment because it turned out to be too much.

Many friends tell me it is hard to write. To me, it sounds like they love writing so much, but they don’t know how to express this love. So I suggest, do not write. Tend to it. Have a conversation with it. Love it like you love your best friend.

Thanks for reading! let’s stay in touch — follow me on Instagram @ juwon.kt

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A Foreign Girl in San Francisco | UX Design Researcher & English-Korean Translator

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Juwon Kang Taylor

Juwon Kang Taylor

A Foreign Girl in San Francisco | UX Design Researcher & English-Korean Translator

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