Inquiry, Writing Instead of Trying

Photo by Jack Hunter on Unsplash

I’m trying to write. I want to be in the present and rack my brain on how to sit with my reality to understand it. An overwhelming flow of questions and thoughts starts to run me over, and I become lost in a spiral.

“How do I be present? What is being present? What am I writing? Why am I writing? Who’s my target audience? Is my writing good enough? I should know exactly what I’m writing. I am horrible at writing.”

None of this was written at first. My computer was in infinite cursor blink mode, my mind spinning on its own, anxiety increasing, and I was paralyzed.

Normally, at this point, I’d end up in a mental and/or physical ball on the floor, begging for the whirlpool of negative thoughts to stop. It doesn’t, and if anything, it gets worse.

“This is where you belong. This is your reality,” my mind yells.

Luckily, I’ve been reading Loving What Is by Byron Katie, and the work, that she calls Inquiry, comes to mind. It’s a series of four questions that helps put things into a different perspective. The four questions are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?
  3. How do I react when I think that thought?
  4. Who would I be without the thought?

Inquiry on “I Am a Horrible Writer”

Below’s an abbreviated version of Inquiry on myself.

Is it true that I am a horrible writer? “Yes. I cannot write.”

Is it absolutely true? “Well, maybe it’s not so bad. So, no.”

How do I react when I think that I’m a horrible writer? “I can’t move. I can’t write.”

Who would I be without that thought? “I’d just be a writer.”

And somehow, with those simple questions, I started to write.

A few minutes later, my anxiety sets in again as I tell myself that a good writer writes with a clear purpose. I should know exactly what I’m supposed to write.

I inquire again.

Is it true that I should always know what to write before I begin? “Actually, no.”

I thought back at how many of my articles started without a definite destination, and it was only after multiple drafts that something took shape. Some weeks, I knew exactly what I wanted to write, and even then, I could recall how the revisions molded my idea.

Some days, I’m not sure what I want to write. Other days, I do. In either case, it was the act of writing that formed the destination. This is my reality.

This was the power of Inquiry. It shifted my view of thoughts to an outside perspective, brought me to reality, let me accept it without negative impact, and put me into action.

The mind is such a weird machine. Even though I was the one asking and answering my own questions, the simple act of questioning my thoughts brought me to a place where I could act. Once I started to act, which was just to write, I was all of a sudden in the present. It reminded me of Yoda’s quote:

“Do or do not. There is no try.”
- Yoda in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I was “trying” to write and not actually “doing.”

We can become paralyzed by our constant barrage of thoughts. The should have’s, could have’s, what if’s can bring us to a state of indecision as we “try” to do whatever it is on our plate. It’s then that Inquiry can be used to bring us into action.

The next time you feel paralyzed, due to anxiety, fear, or not knowing what to do, bring yourself into Inquiry mode. Ask yourself the four questions by Katie. The process to ask the right question will take practice, but by repeating the process, you will find an answer that will release you from paralysis, and get you moving.

Want someone to practice Inquiry with? Email me at I’m learning this practice, and would genuinely appreciate someone to learn with.

Till next week!

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James S. Park

James S. Park

Learning life and exploring the mind, one day at a time.

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