What does a writer write about

…when she has nothing to write about?

I’m not even sure that is true, but it is the outcome thought / feeling I awoke with this morning: Friday, my writing day. In the last blog (painfully, over a month ago) I explained how writing time had been diverted to reading time; and a month later I am finding something similar going on…writing time being diverted to lecture development. In the long term, it will amount to the same thing: reading to powerpoint production to writing*; but in the short time I am experiencing the pain of not writing: frustration, yearning even.

And those long summers of my childhood seem to go quicker these days

Helen’s need to write, my lecturer Self’s need for me to produce lecture content. We are all familiar with how the duties of life can impinge on our wants and wishes. Held alongside that sense of its already the school holidays**, and time relentlessly moves on. As I write (because I now have something to write about), I feel the push and pull of competing demands. Internal wants, external shoulds.

I was sharing with a friend last week the nature of my thinking mind that comes into view when I am meditating. A tumbling of thoughts which almost immediately get “undercut” with other thoughts pulling in the other direction. My friend tuned into how painful I found this oscillation to be. “You know, it reminds me of a camera technique used by Martin Scorsese…where the camera moves in toward the object simultaneously with a zooming out”. No surprise that this trick is intended to induce nausea, vertigo and the like in the viewer. I have written on this blog a number of times how I can feel a sense of falling, even as I sit still in meditation.

I have also shared on this blog how I identify with the enneatype Six. And this forward / back oscillation is how it feels to be the doubting mind of the Six. Writing or lecture prep is but one example of the back and forth my mind does in its search for ground (the irony is, it is the back and forth that brings the groundlessness…ah, you have to love a good paradox!). And yet friends (and especially my wife) tell me how assertive I appear from the outside, that I always seem “to know my own mind”. I do…but from the outside, that “knowing” looks stable – whilst it is actually the result of an equal back and forth; like a muscle in isometric contraction.

The relief that meditation brings is two-fold: I see this (Six) process incredibly clearly AND, I don’t have to fall into the back and forth. I am now able (to varying extents) to “pull back” (zoom out?) and see the play of mind in a much bigger space. The more rooted I am in my body, the easier this is.

The view offered by the enneagram and the Buddhist teachings helps also in a twofold manner: this is Six mind AND the only task that is non-negotiable on this life path (as chosen) is to become familiar and come to know the TRUE nature of mind (that is bigger that this process). As I have said before here, our enneatype is who we are not…my mind process is the way a Six obscure’s the true nature of mind.

So, whether I am on the cushion noticing my mind is tumbling / undercutting; or at my desk doubting the choice that is the best use of precious (relentlessly advancing) time…the content matters less than knowing the process.

But to say, that doesn’t mean the content of my life doesn’t matter – or that would lead us to nihilism. And I do want to make choices that serve, that inspire, and have me live a passionate, engaged life. Buddhism (and the enneagram) are both advocates of the both / and: there is an absolute truth and a relative one that are lived out together.

On a relative level: I am a psychotherapist, a lecturer, and now a writer…and all of those labels are functions in which I have wishes and demands; but they are also modes through I meet the absolute truth and come to know mind.

Afterall, look where this blog has taken me!


Talking of writing and being a writer…it is just a month now until my book is published! I am pleased to pass on a discount code to readers of this blog ifyou order directly through Routledge.

20% Discount Available – enter the code EFL03 at checkout

A message from Routledge…Please note that this discount code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount and only applies to books purchased directly via www.routledge.com. This code expires on 31 December 2023.

To request a copy for review, please contact: Georgina Clutterbuck, Editorial Assistant, georgina.clutterbuck@tandf.co.uk




*Colleagues and I, preparing a new module on neuroscience and its implications, also hope to write a book together on the same theme

**Whilst I am childfree, the date of 23rd July is inscribed on my bodymind as when I “break up” for the summer.

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