shū zhě, sǎn yě 书者，散也
Calligraphy Expresses Inner Conditions.
To become a good calligrapher, one must first set one’s mind at ease and dismiss all distracting thoughts. This is an argument raised by Cai Yong (133-192), a famous Eastern Han calligrapher, in his treatise “On Calligraphic Script.” He says that the art of calligraphy discloses the calligrapher’s personal feeling, stressing the need to unleash one’s true self and to eliminate all of life’s burdens and practical considerations. This view takes such actions as being crucial to the success of a calligraphic work.
To engage in the practice of calligraphy, one should first unleash his pent-up feelings and eliminate all distracting thoughts. Before setting brush to paper, he is advised to open his heart and give free rein to his fantasy. Only then can he expect to carry out his actual task. If he is reluctant to do it, even if he uses a rabbit-hair brush from Zhongshan, he will still fail to produce a fine work of calligraphy. (Cai Yong: On Calligraphic Script)
When doing calligraphy, he should stay totally free from what is going on outside, let go of all worries and anxiety, concentrate his energy, purify his mind, and breathe with perfect ease. Only thus would he be able to produce a real piece of work of art. If his mind is in a jumble, his written characters will be crooked; if his breath is uneven, his characters will look as if turned upside down. (Li Shimin: The Craft of Calligraphy)