The Write Idea


Lamott on Broccoli

Filed under: Quotes — ljcollins @ 1:04 pm
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Because every day is a good day to read a portion of Bird by Bird:

There’s an old Mel Brooks routine … where the psychiatrist tells his patient, “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.”  And when I first tell my students this, they look at me as if things have clearly begun to deteriorate. …

It means, of course, that when you don’t know what to do … you get quiet and try to hear that still small voice inside. It will tell you what to do. The problem is that so many of us lost access to our broccoli when we were children. When we listened to our intuition when we were small and then told the grown-ups what we believed to be true, we were often either corrected, ridiculed or punished. God forbid you should have your own opinions or perceptions—better to have head lice. If you asked innocently, “Why is Mom in the bathroom crying?” you might be told, “Mom isn’t crying; Mom has allergies.”

You need your broccoli in order to write well. Otherwise you’re going to sit down in the morning and have only your rational mind to guide you. Then, if you’re having a bad day, you’re going to crash and burn within half an hour. You’ll give up, and maybe even get up, which is worse because of lot of us know that if we just sit there long enough … we may end up being surprised.  …

You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.  …

Take the attitude that what you are thinking and feeling is valuable stuff, and then be naive enough to get it all down on paper. But be careful:  if your intuition says that your story sucks, make sure it really is your intuition and not your mother.

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