Today, I thought I would try an experiement. Most of the time, when I start to write I have some idea of what I am going to write about. But today, I have no idea. The only thing that came to me was the words "just writing." And I started.
In a sense, this is like beginner's mind. We start with no idea of where we are going. I have done this with public speaking, too, though that is a bit more unnerving.
But soon, ideas come. Words appear on the page. A narrative forms. Where were these things when I started? I don't know. Where do the thoughts come from?
I am a big fan of TED, which sponsors and posts wonderful, thought-provoking 18-minute talks. Some are by famous people and some are not, but most are well worth seeing. Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote "Eat, Pray, Love," gives a a great talk on the creative process. She talks about the pressure to repeat the success of her book (which was wildly beyond what she had done before). At one time, she says, the term "genius" referred to something that everyone had, but that was considered separate from the person. Everyone had a genius that visited from time to time. And if genius failed, it really wasn't the fault of the person.
That may be a story, but it is a helpful one. Because I don't think anyone understands where the words come from. And, whether they come or not, most of the time we feel they are coming from somewhere other than our brains.
Just like all our other thoughts, the words seem to appear from nowhere. And we are left simply to appreciate the mystery.