Are you trying to squeeze your dream into your life, or will you fit your life into your dream?
If you are waiting for magical writing time to appear on the horizon (perhaps after you retire), then you, like me, will discover that mirages cannot be caught. Instead, when we stop where we are, and dig deep, time appears and expands. Here are a few suggestions:
Calendar the upcoming week. Block out the set commitments and routines. Outline the available hours for everything you want to do. Designate some as writing time.
Begin and close each planning and writing session by connecting with divine guidance, in whatever way that works for you. Ask that your writing be of service to others and meet your own needs.
Carry a journal or notebook around. Steal moments, capture ideas.
Keep Morning Pages. Julia Cameron suggests three pages written first thing. It works best half asleep, and scribbling. These don’t count as writing. It’s usually the second half, after I run out of ideas, when ideas begin to flow.
Count the ways you’re already writing. E-mailing, blogging? Copy those notes into one file. Plan ways to share your book in segments.
Next week, we’ll talk about fear. Until then, write anyway.
What helps you fit your dream into your life? Or your life into your dream?
Do you dance alone? Write alone? Some can. Some learn faster and more gracefully with a partner. Some clients send me work as soon as they write it. If you don’t have a writing coach as you write your book this year, at least enlist a writing buddy. You can check in to announce your day’s modest goal and check back later to celebrate its achievement. You can meet at a library or cafe to “work and ignore” or to swap pages you wrote earlier. Some writers rack up a draft before showing it to anyone; others require reader support before they can write more. Dance to your own drummer.
One partner every writer needs is a favorite pep talk. There’s a wonderful collection on the NaNoWriMo site; I keep a copy of Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket’s in my planning folder:
“Think of that secret favorite book of yours—not the one you tell people you like best, but that book so good that you refuse to share it with people because they’d never understand it. Perhaps it ‘s not even a whole book, just a tiny portion that you’ll never forget as long as you live. Nobody knows you feel this way about that tiny portion of literature, so what does it matter? The author of that small bright thing, that treasured whisper deep in your heart, never should have bothered.”
Consider that your book has been secretly growing in the silence. Your subconscious is all over it, and you might have more of it on paper than you realize. Check for evidence of your story or your area of expertise in various corners of your life. Have you. . . .
Blogged about it?
Taught a class?
Discussed it with someone?
Gotten on a soapbox about it?
Been told you should write a book about it?
Started a draft?
Made notes on scraps of paper?
Dreamed about it?
Daydreamed about it?
Read other books like it?
Wished for a book that doesn’t exist yet?
If you want, you can start hunting and gathering. Or you can simply open your awareness to the clues. Observe that you are already writing a book. Is this book your usual suspect? Or has another book emerged to surprise you?
Things felt tight last year? Of course! You have been preparing to shed. It made your vision cloudy, too. Aren’t you glad it’s time to peel back the resistance and display your new radiance? You’ve grown and you’re ready to share what you’ve learned. Yes, you already know enough to achieve that dream. Yes, it’s the right year. Yes, you’re ready. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. I’m magic, that way. It isn’t possible to find me before you’re ready. Happy New Year—Your Year!
Sunset is my favorite time of day—a reminder to pause, enjoy my Arizona sky (Where else would dust be spectacular!), connect with the source of it all, reflect on that day’s blessings (at least in gratitude for surviving that one), and seek guidance for the next phase of my journey. It’s like a mini New Year’s Eve. So today, I wish you a beautiful sunset on your 2012 and an even better dawn for your 2013.
Congratulations to you who finished writing a book this year! And congratulations to you who started a book. (If that was your intention, there’s still time!) They say, “Well begun is half done,” and that has been proven to me. By the time a new client arrives for help getting started, the book is usually half written, though unrecognizable. It’s challenging to get started—even to know that you have already started. It’s hard to know where to begin, and it usually feels like a big mess. And then it’s common to get stuck partway through, usually right before the end, because there’s a chance you’ll be judged and you’re afraid to let go. (That would be me. I have no qualms about finishing your book!)
Would it comfort you to know we’re not so unique? It’s part of our human process and it doesn’t have to be final. In a Harvard Business Review article Reclaim Your Creative Confidence, Tom and David Kelly of IDEO focus on four fears that block creativity:
Fear of the Messy Unknown
Fear of Being Judged
Fear of the First Step
Fear of Letting Go
Here’s part of the summary: “The authors use an approach based on the work of psychologist Albert Bandura in helping patients get over their snake phobias: You break challenges down into small steps and then build confidence by succeeding on one after another. Creativity is something you practice, say the authors, not just a talent you are born with.” Amen! Catch Alison Beard’s interview with the Kelly brothers for the Harvard Business Review Ideacast.
Personally, I enjoy that first step and that messy unknown—when it’s YOUR book we’re working on. Other people’s books ring clear for me. But I need others’ encouragement for my own work as well. It keeps me humble, and expands my tool kit for helping others.
So if you’re preparing for a start, or a re-start, check out the Kelly brothers’ article and interview. And remember what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
It’s National Adoption Month. It’s also Thanksgiving. It was planned that way. If your heart hasn’t been touched lately, consider visiting a court for the finalization of an adoption. Imagine hearing a commissioner say, “I now pronounce you parents and child.” I’ve had that experience; just telling you that much about it, I have to cry again. I remember the way my older son insisted on carrying my younger one to the car, saying, “Now you’re my REAL little brother! REAL little brother! You’re my REAL, REAL, REAL little brother!” They still feel that way about each other.
You can’t convince me that there is any such thing as an unwanted child—only children who need help finding their families. If you have room for one more, or a sibling group, you might consider that. If you are expecting a baby before you planned to parent one, you might consider that as well. At our house, every day is Birth Mother Appreciation Day.
And naturally, because you read my blog for writing connections, you can’t think I’ve wandered away from my focus here. You know I’m on a mission to inspire you to write the story of your life, at least for your own perspective and your family’s heritage. Well, imagine being a child who doesn’t know the whole story of your life. Imagine you have been in foster care, and you never knew all the details, and you have few or no photos or childhood art projects or school work. What then?
Volunteers are researching and creating Life Books for these children. For an agency in my area (Arizonans for Children), it requires a couple of hours a week for about six months. You need to pass a background check because you will be entrusted with case details. You will have templates to mail, requesting more details from people who have known the child, and you’ll usually have a partner on the project. It’s a healthy outlet for a scrapbooking fiend, but you don’t need those talents to begin. You only need to be willing to research, write, and care.