Have you ever been severely constipated, your bowels aching to relieve themselves of the blockage? All you want to do is move along with your day but your intestines won’t cooperate.
Writing is often like that for me.
I’ve just spent the last two hours straining to push words out of my brain into a book project that I’m working on. And much of what has come out appears to my eye to be crap. But I continue to strain. Why?
I am excruciatingly, slowly teaching myself to honor the process of the process.
Calling myself a writer doesn’t make me a writer. I’m only a writer when I’m writing, not talking about writing. Doing the writing makes me a writer.
I have been a professional photographer for 35 years. But several years ago, in one of the deepest dips of the recession, I realized that I’d not shot one picture in a nearly six-month period. What I had done during that time period was go to networking events, business classes, sales presentation appointments, and anywhere else I could to shake up an opportunity for paid work. But I had not, during that time, picked up a camera.
My attitude sucked and my energy was flagging.
If we are what we do, then I was an unpaid networker. But I was NOT a photographer. I had not honored the process of feeding my heart or keeping my skills sharpened.
I took a week off from all appointments and shot photos. I can’t say they were great images. My vision was rusty and shallow. But the process fed my heart and energized my life.
I realized that I am not an artist and communicator because it’s a glamorous or lucrative way to make a living. I am passionate about telling stories. It is the core of who I am. But to truly be something, I have to do it. It is action that creates results, not talk.
It is the same with writing. It is a process. What I’ve discovered is that the most critical part of developing a process is to honor the process.
What I want, when I sit down to write, is for the words to flow out of me like a tap. If you’ve ever written, you know that’s not how it goes. But I’ve also learned that honoring the process of writing does cause the words to flow. A lot of the process of writing is fighting back the ‘voice’ of doubt and recrimination that whispers ‘Who would ever want to read anything you have to write?’
My job at that moment isn’t to find an answer to justify my time in front of the keyboard. My job at that moment is to write. By trusting the process itself, I eventually fight back the ‘voice’ and get the words out.
I’ve talked with a lot of people who want to write/paint/photograph, etc., but stall when the process becomes painful. Although there are times when creativity does abound, I don’t think it ever becomes entirely pain free.
That’s when the discipline of honoring the process becomes critical to becoming what your heart screams out to be.
How do you respond to the resistance that inevitably inhibits your personal vision from seeing the light?