Recently, I was asked to write a guest blog post, and it jumpstarted my writing practice. The act of writing the guest post provided me with an opportunity to observe my own writing process. I did what I always do which is to try and plan the entire post in my head before writing the first word. I spent eight days juggling ideas in my mind and trying to put them together into something coherent. This planning-it-all-out-in-my-head is my usual writing routine, but what normally happens is I never actually sit down to write. I turn the ideas around and around in my head for so long that they lose their magic before ever making it to the page. This time, however, I had a deadline. The post was due in ten days, and I didn’t put the first word on paper until the ninth day. What I noticed, though, is that what came out on the page was nothing like what I had spent eight days creating in my head. It was an eye-opening experience. There are many times that I don’t put something down on paper because I can’t figure it out in my head, or I can’t get the idea shaped the way I want it to be so I don’t even bother. This experience provided me with an epiphany: I’ve been trying to do all of my writing in the distracted and chaotic environment that is my brain, and that’s why I’ve been experiencing such a profound case of “writer’s block.” I also realized that I don’t trust myself to just sit down and write, that I have some kind of aversion to simply putting words on the page without exhaustively processing them in my mind first. This issue is clearly driven by the need for perfection. Of course, logically I know nothing is ever perfect, but somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that if I couldn’t achieve that perfection in my head first, there was no point in even trying to flesh the idea out on paper. I never considered trying to work my ideas out on paper first. I never considered that the solution to my incessant writer’s block would be to let my “working/critical” mind take a break while allowing my “creative” mind to take over. Luckily, the experience of writing the guest post was just what I needed to jumpstart that process. And what came out as a result was raw, authentic, and vulnerable rather than distant and rehearsed, and it was a much more powerful piece because of it. So, my new practice is to write no matter what. This doesn’t mean that I have to stop trying to work things out in my head, but it does mean that will no longer let my inability to work it all out in my head keep me from putting words down on paper every single day. The results of implementing this practice: In two weeks I have completed drafts of two children’s books, written five blog posts, and rewritten the first two chapters of my novel!
After a long hiatus, I returned to my first love – creative writing – last September. This led to the publication of the essay The Life Inside Me in October, and then the essay Invisible in December. During this time, I also managed over 56,000 words of a new novel for #NaNoWriMo2016 in November (my first win). Then, as commonly occurs when you return to that thing that calls to your soul, all hell broke loose, and my life as I knew it imploded. Since then, I have slowly, painstakingly clawed my way back to a regular writing practice and just today started rewriting the #NaNoWriMo novel tentatively titled The Waiting Place.
Along the way, I came across a podcast that gave me the extra fuel I needed to complete the journey back to writing – Yoga Church. One particular episode really spoke to me and lit me up: Episode 36: Honoring Voice where Meadow DeVor and Pixie Lighthorse discuss reconnecting and honoring your inner voice. I have had an incredibly difficult time hearing my inner voice, and even when I did, I have had an even harder time trusting what I heard and following through with its guidance. Enter Pixie Lighthorse’s newest book: Prayers of Honoring Voice. This book contains prayers that assist the reader in asking for divine help with honoring that inner voice in all that he or she does. I am not a person who believes that there is an old man somewhere up in the sky that selectively hands out blessings or punishments. In fact, I completely reject the idea that such a deity exists, so I’m often hesitant to turn to anything that has the word “prayer” in the title (or “church” for that matter). I believe in a protective, loving, forgiving, encouraging, and compassionate energy that flows through everything that we do should we choose to invite it to do so. That is exactly what Pixie Lighthorse’s prayers do (as does the Yoga Church podcast). They’ve hit on every aspect of insecurity and fear that I have about putting words on the page and sharing them with others – especially the hardest part for me: getting started. A particular favorite prayer of mine is “Honoring Creation” which is located in the South section of the book. As she mentions in the “How to Use this Book” section, “Each section of prayers is aligned with the teachings of the Four Directions” which are aligned with the four seasons and four elements – for example, the first section is: “East, Season: Spring, Element: Air”. If you would like a more in-depth description of Prayers of Honoring Voice, you can read Lighthorse’s excellent description here. The really great news is that the book is available under Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a subscriber, you can read it for free. However, this is one book that I want in hard copy to have right next to me while I write. I want to be able to flip through its pages whenever I need to. It is a book I know I can turn to when the fear of what I have to say, of what I need to say, takes over, and I start to shut down. I hope that it will do the same for you. These prayers are now a part of my daily writing routine, and I use them as a starting off point, as an invocation and invitation to the muse and as a reminder that I don’t have to go on this writing journey all alone.
My favorite song to inspire my memoir writing…
- Watching the sunrise each morning as I walk in the park with my four-year-old son
- Reading a book whose words leap off the page and come alive in my head
- Taking time to see and photograph the beauty that is all around me
- Someone who offers positive advice rather than negative especially in regards to writing
- A pain-free day
- Listening to Hay House Radio each day at work
- Listening to Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer affirmations on my iPhone
- Writing my morning pages
- Requiring Fridays off from work so that I can focus on writing
- Reading inspiring blogs that encourage participation from readers such as Inspiration Art Flirtation and Soul Food Cafe
- Reading poetry
- Eating healthy, organic foods
- Attempting to draw even though I don’t know how
- Visualizing a beautiful future
- Watching miracles occur in my life every day
- Being alive
- Writing an “I am grateful for” list every day with my four-year-old son
- My son and I raising our hands towards the sky each morning and saying “Thank you for this beautiful day, thank you for this beautiful life, thank you for this beautiful mommy/son” and then giving each other a great BIG hug!
- Reading, writing, reading, writing, reading, writing…..
- SLEEP 🙂
This post inspired by Inspiration Art Flirtation
As I began my journey into the writing life, I went in search of books that would inspire me – especially when I felt like giving up. Cup of Comfort for Writers did exactly that and more. Some of the personal essays addressed the follies experienced by new writers when sending their work out into the world and others addressed the feelings associated with the inevitable rejection letters that follow. What I gained from reading this book was a sense of camaraderie with other writers that have blazed this trail before me and have experienced what I am experiencing now. It is good to know that others have had doubts, felt like giving up, or struggled with finding the time to write. This book will make a nice addition to any aspiring or experienced writer’s collection and I believe each will find themselves reflected in these pages.