Balance is elusive in our culture—particularly for those who aspire to create. I work with lots of writers who write every day, focused intently on the doing of writing. Lots of writers write obsessively, getting caught or addicted to the momentum of their creative process. You might fall into this category of writers even if you’re a person who obsessively thinks about your projects, regardless of whether you actually sit down to write every day. Perhaps you’re one of those writers who is plotting scenes in your head, or one of those who’s beating yourself up when not writing, thinking about what you could or should be creating.
Let’s say the balance/imbalance spectrum looks like a seesaw. The middle represents a place of balance. At the extreme left are those of us consumed by “doing” our writing. You’re a lefty if you find that you’re consumed by your work but dying for a break; if you find yourself overwhelmed by your project but not knowing how or when to give yourself space; if you find yourself thinking that you should be writing when you’re going about your day; if you beat yourself up for not accomplishing what you set out to do. At the extreme right are those writers who want to live their process, often so much so that they’re not very productive. These are the rare artistes that our culture doesn’t value as much. They’re the artists who embody their art, who live for nothing but their art.
So where do you fall on the balance spectrum? I’m going to venture to guess that almost everyone who’s reading this falls somewhere on the left side. Why? Because we live in a culture that values doing—even when the doing is just thinking about what we should be doing, or wondering how we could be more accomplished than we are.
I would argue that most of us need to bring a little of that right energy into our lives. To embody a little more of our own inner artiste. But how?
1. Start by scheduling your time. Set aside certain times of the day for writing. If it’s 9 to 11, sit down and write from 9 to 11. Don’t skip it just because you don’t feel inspired, and don’t think to yourself, If this goes well, I’ll pull another four hours tonight. Limiting the hours you write, or forcing yourself to adhere to scheduled time is an invaluable practice.
2. Consider meditating for 10-15 minutes before you sit down to write, or listening to music that puts you in the mood. This will settle you into a creative space and sets the tone for the work you want to get done.
3. Start to get curious about what motivates you. Are you motivated by money or power? Are you motivated by validation and accolades? Are you motivated by the feeling of creating and being moved by the emotional energy of something you’re giving life to? It might be a combination of things, but it’s good to get real about what’s bringing you to your desk every day, or what’s causing you to be stuck in not doing. Don’t choose to be in denial about what you want from your project. Understanding what you’re attached to can help you move into a new perspective. It can open doors and allow you to loosen the hold the writing has over you. Simply acknowledging what exists here can allow your shoulds to disintegrate.
Give it a try. And breathe!
Until next month,
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