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“If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it. Be generous. Offer a gift to the world no one else can offer yourself.” ~ Glennon Doyle
I am convinced I suffer from “think-o-lism.”
It’s my own word, you can borrow it if you’d like.
Thinkolism impacts my creative flow and writing. The only cure for thinkolism is to fuhgeddaboudit and start writing in order to be of benefit.
Recently, I had plans to hit the beach and write about my mother’s dementia and my daughter leaving for college—all the empty nester, parents growing older type of stuff.
Yet, when I looked at the computer screen I was blocked.
Here I was, at the beach with a plan. I would get still, feel inspired, and write my ass off. I announced to my accountability partner: “I am off to the beach to write! By Sunday I will have an article ready to roll.” I arrived at my favorite spot, with a hot cup of coffee next to me. I had my writing ensemble on: hair in bun, no makeup or bra, torn sweats, lucky shirt, and my favorite slippers.
Sat down to get started and—nothing! No words or ideas. I got up and thought, okay, I am pressuring myself too much. What I need is some time to relax, walk on the beach, and watch the sky get painted by the sunset. That will do the trick. Beach, walking, sunsets, waves crashing; the writing will just flow surrounded by all this natural inspiration.
Perfect scenario, right? Nope. Instead, the inner critic decided to join me. “You are screwed, it’s over,” it proclaimed.
Desperate, I did the only thing I knew how.
I went straight to my computer and emailed my accountability partner. I confessed I was coming up empty, that my beautiful writing getaway weekend was turning out to be marathons of Netflix mixed with social media binges. My friend responded with two simple sentences: “Write about writer’s block. Seems real.”
Well, that was simple! Do you not understand the drama of this all? How much I’ve been “thinking” about this?
Truth is, I needed to get out of the way and allow whatever was rising to come out, without judgment. The point was to end the drama and let go of the need for struggle. To simply let it roll and to fire the expectations that not even Anne Lamott could obtain.
Writing is like giving birth. It’s messy and you really aren’t sure how the ride is going to turn out or how long of a haul you’re in for. You just know to keep pushing through, no matter how exhausted you become.
Truth be told, I become distant and cranky, like I’ve lost my best friend, when I haven’t taken the time to write, whether at home as the sun is coming up or for an hour in a coffee shop.
I must write, or I lose pieces of myself. Writing is my vault. The secret keeper and treasure finder. It breathes life into my soul and peels away all the cluttered layers until I land in what’s real. When I move my pen, I discover what needs to be discarded and what needs grow.
I forgive on the page and I’m forgiven.
I release and accept.
I surrender and I learn to let go.
The page captures my tears and bears witness to my messy, vulnerable truths. It is the place where I learn to be a mother, wife, daughter, friend, dreamer, and believer. Writing is my oxygen mask and the place I call home.
And at times, it is utterly and completely torturous. Writing causes me to grapple with my ego. Ego wants it done yesterday. It is invested in the product not the process. It thinks it needs to be the best, or else it’s the worst. Ego doesn’t want writing to be an experience nor a channel to truth. It wants to drown out the whisper that patiently waits on the sidelines for you to land the pen on the page and just listen.
The ego is full of expectation, shoulds, and comparisons. It allows no room for the words, “It’s okay, you are doing the best you can. Just keep writing one word at a time and it will get done. Just sit and stay.”
Most of the time, I must write 10 pages to find one sentence worth putting in an article. The only way to get to it is to sit down and keep writing. Writing through the critic’s messages until something larger arrives to drown them out.
Glennon Doyle says, “I’ve only begun the work that needs to be done here. Not yet, the voice says. See this through. Unbecome. Unbecome until you uncover who you really are.”
Writing helps me unbecome all the things my ego tells me I must be. The goal is to get out of the way so you can be another garden variety writer. Not at the top of the heap nor residing at the bottom. Just another writer like every other writer, trying to give birth to what’s inside of you.
Allow the writing to be utterly crappy and messy at times while knowing you are not crap or an outright hot mess (well, sometimes I am!). When I finally get around to getting some words on paper, it is usually because I stopped overthinking it. Free of the “ism” and forging ahead with thinking in tandem with spirit!
We become open to what we are meant to write about, not what we prearranged. Writing is not shy or easy, neat or compact. It’s hard work to sit in the chair as you thrash about trying to get what you are looking for on the page. Our job is to let go of the romance of writing and get down on the front lines with it.
I’m not surprised my pen led me to write about writing. Writing about writing is what will bring me to the other places. It’s never about the product or the end results.
The gift is in the process and to look back knowing you have written your way home.