Impatience Can Overwhelm Artistic Vision


In prior posts, I have dealt with the importance of having a personal philosophy of writing. The elements of any writing philosophy must stand above a general preference for particular kinds of ideas for short stories and novels. More important, those elements should transcend considerations of writing technique such as plot, setting, characterization, style, and so on. All writers need an integrated package of powerful ideas geared towards such practical considerations as establishing productive work habits, maintaining standards, dealing with “writers block,” taming the inner critic, and just plain coping with the unforeseen.

Book with post haste as title

Patience prospers the creative process. Impatience can cripple it. (Image: public domain)

In this post, I want to supplement my earlier ideas by putting forward some thoughts on how to deal with the problem of impatience.

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Your Easy Life May Be Depressing

Depression is becoming a pandemic in the West. Perhaps surprisingly, hardship and want are not always – or even often – the source of our misery. The problem is more likely to stem from our comfortable standard of living and secure social safety net. Having it easy makes us passive and complacent – and that leaves us vulnerable to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Looking at some famous examples of the more chronic forms of depression will illuminate the modern experience.

Winston Churchill War Poster

Winston Churchill often battled depression calling the dark mood his “black dog.” (Photo: Wikimedia)

Depression often assailed Winston Churchill who referred to the wretched emotional state as his “black dog.” Like a loyal hound, depression has a habit of following the sufferer around. Rather than Churchill’s black dog, I use the image of a black pit when contemplating my own troubles with depression. To remain free of this gloomy curse requires constant clawing at the sloping lip of the abyss. Even a moment’s lapse in the desperate struggle results in a nasty tumble into despair, from whence it can be difficult to regain the precarious, yet greatly desired, perch on the edge. Depressive types live their whole lives in this manner. (Manic-depressives such as me get some respite during manic episodes.)

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What Socrates Meant by the Examined Life

When Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living” he was not recommending a life spent in endless naval-gazing, the practice of complacent self-absorption. He meant something far more rigorous. Pertaining to our day to day lives, he was telling us that philosophy is a lifelong dedication to accurate analysis and sound critical thinking about what life is and all that it means. Regarding our inner lives, we interpret his words as a call to honest introspection and an indication of the rich rewards that flow from the practice.

The Socrates Bust in the Vatican

When Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living” he was challenging us to a lifetime of rigorous introspection. (Photo: Wikimedia)

This raises an important question. What is the difference between introspection and self-absorption?

Rumination as a (Possibly Bad) Habit

I am an introvert. Like all introverts, rumination is a way of life for me. Across many years, I was a conscious believer in the act of rumination, which I will define as the fine art of sitting and doing nothing while letting the mind idly wander or perhaps ponder, often somewhat obsessively, some event of the day. What I randomly mulled over might include an anxiety-inducing blunder I had made, something someone had said that seemed to have important overtones, or more happily, my creative writing or a new philosophical idea.

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