top of page

I Don't Know

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.~~ E. L. Doctrow

If I were to rewrite this E. L. Doctrow quote, I'd add one word. Ideally. "Ideally, you start from nothing and learn as you go."

Ideally, ha, an adverb and in this instance, I will pay the five bucks. (If you are one of my students, or a student of my mentor, Jack Grapes, you know what I'm talking about!)

It's worth it, the adverb. Here's why: I believe that when you embrace the idea of starting from nothing, of not knowing where you're going or how you're going to get there, your writing will be good, better than good, maybe even great. If you start with a road map or an outline, there is no room for surprise. You have it all planned out. There isn't a lot of room to be creative. Not really. Not like you could be without the map.

I'll take this a step further. Your creative juice, spark, freedom, light, fires, whatever metaphor you want to use, resides in the space of not knowing.

That space of allowing. That space of being. That space of not trying. That space. That space. That space offers possibility. The space that allows you to be messy and have fun and create in a kind of way that you wouldn't otherwise. What if you were to come to the blank page and just write even though you didn't know what to write about? What might change? A lot. I believe a lot!

Try it.


Empty your mind.

Empty your thoughts.

Empty yourself and listen to your breath.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Travel to that place where there is no noise except for the sound of your heartbeat and your breath.

Then listen. Then listen some more. Then listen even more.

Then allow.

Allow the silence to spread through you.

Allow it to spill onto the page.

Then write.

Here's a prompt:

I don't know . . .

I don't know . . .

I don't know . . .

It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. ~~ E. L. Doctrow

29 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page