When you start to think, stop.

“My gauge each day, in all things, is simply this: Is what I’m choosing (to think, do or say) moving me closer to my Creator or farther away? For this question, I am immensely thankful. It saves me an awful lot of backtracking, worry lines, frustration, angst and apologizing. Today and every day, I give thanks for my ability to exercise power of choice—even when I’ve chosen wrong.”


Years ago I attended a writing workshop led by Richard Wagamese. His process, he told us, was to go for long walks in the hills and tell himself a story out loud as he climbed. When he returned home, he’d write it all down, letting the words pour unto the page. He’d write, he said, until he “started to think.”

When thoughts began to run through his head—”Is that the right word?” or “Should I take that part out?” or “This is the worst thing ever”—it was time to stop.

The words weren’t coming from Source anymore.

At the workshop he invited participants to give him a topic—any topic—so that he could tell us a story. Several times he received his subject, reflected only for a second or two, and then began to speak.

In a miraculous way, he opened himself up to become a channel for story. He surrendered to it. Story unfolded through him, complete and beautiful from beginning to end.

I think of this often, when my hands hover over laptop keys, uncertain. Or when those questions or comments start to circulate. “Does this word belong?” or “Is that part too long?” or “Am I wasting my time with this?”

I’m no Richard Wagamese, but I try to recreate what he showed to me that day, not only in writing, but in day-to-day life. For stories or for difficult decisions, I try to open, to surrender, and to allow the unfolding.

When I manage it, even a little, I’m surprised by how complete and beautiful it all turns out, from beginning to end.

And when I start to think, I stop.

Cover of Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese

10 thoughts on “When you start to think, stop.

  1. marianbeaman

    These are powerful words, Arlene. And I especially liked your observation, “For stories or for difficult decisions, I try to open, to surrender, and to allow the unfolding.” I like the idea of being a channel of creativity, which is what you (and Wagamese) are illustrating.

    Thanks for all this! 😀

    1. Endless Weekend

      To me, it reminded of what Seneca said about “There is nothing so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness it is in your expecting evil before it arrives!” With the idea of overthinking and over-worrying about things that, for the most part, will never happen, and wasting one’s time and one’s creativity spinning. Great advice to stop being our own worst enemies…

      1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

        Once again, it has taken me too long to reply to your comment. My life is spinning a little too quickly these days, it seems. I like this connection with overthinking in the worrying and anxiety-creating kind of way. We are so often our own worst enemies.

  2. Ally Bean

    “And when I start to think, I stop.” Sounds like the kind of advice I can use. I overthink just about everything. I could get out of my own way, couldn’t I?


What do you think? Let me know. Comments make me really happy.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.