In any relationship, there are ebbs and flows, ecstasy with falling in love, then sometimes, disagreements, frustrations and feeling out of love. In good marriages, notice that partners stay with their process even when it’s uncomfortable, because they know that seeing each other through it builds a stable foundation for the relationship that in turn supports their individual growth.
These steps are:
If you know these steps, you can understand and work with them, instead of feeling hopelessly, inexplicably stuck in your writing.
You decide that you wish to write a piece, say, a novel, a short story, a book of essays, and then you create the environment where you can write.You do whatever it takes to open up to receive ideas, whether that be gathering your pen and notebook and going for a walk in nature; or cleaning up your desk and creating order to make room for your creativity; or keeping a notebook by your bed so that when your Writer Within presents the idea you are able retrieve it.
Your mind is opening up to new possibilities.
Consider how a woman expecting a baby would probably create a nursery, look at baby-clothes, take good care of herself because she’s about to become a “mom;” would generally prepare to receive that child. Similarly, you must prepare to receive your creative ideas; otherwise, they will escape – vanish into the ethers from whence they came. If you don’t have a notebook and pen to receive them, you might not be able to retrieve them again.
Preparation is crucial.
After you begin your project, you have a general idea of what you would like to say, but often, the key component feels elusive and you just can’t put your finger on it. Well, the work is germinating, incubating; cooking. Just like when you bake a cake: you put all the ingredients into the bowl, stir, then pour into a pan and put into the oven – then wait the required time while those ingredients transform into a real cake. Ah, what a lovely scent as they’re cooking.
But, in this process of creativity, this lovely scent may not feel so good. Yes, you mostly believe that you can write this piece, and you’ve got the right ingredients – knowledge, intuition, perseverance, desire, intention, writing ability, and great ideas – but will they actually cook and transform into your book or your story?
This can be a frustrating wait. Unfortunately, it is just part of the process. Remember that baby? Well, as you know, it takes nine months to gestate that child. It may not take that long to gestate your project, but it might take longer than you want it to.
Trust that you will get through it. This is when your Writer Within is doing the transformational work. You are not working alone here, you’re in partnership, and your intention and commitment will give this project beautiful form – if you allow yourself to partner with your Writer Within. This is a huge part of the creative process.
“It is not our task to determine the meaning or substance of a story in advance. Thinking about it is as likely to take us away from its essence as toward it…It is best if we can get out of our own way to find a rhythm that elicits the story in us.”
Illumination – or Aha!
Eureka! You’ve got your answer, the one you’ve been waiting and hoping for.
The moment where you KNOW it will work!
Your Writer Within has spoken and you are well on your way now.
Yes, this is a very exciting moment, and very often you will be inclined to sit at your computer for much longer than you ever have before, because you just know what to do now, and where your project is going. It all falls into place. You say, “Thank you, Writer Within!”
Still, there may be anxiety that arises at this breakthrough moment. Often, our Aha experience can also scare us. Dr. Rollo May addresses this in The Courage to Create: “The world, both inwardly and outwardly, takes on an intensity that may be momentarily overwhelming.”
Now that you have received this awesome idea for a story, or a book you’ve been struggling with, you feel the sense of responsibility to put it into action. Here’s where self-doubts may niggle their way into your mind, or the Critic comes a-calling and you wonder if you are up to the task at hand. Can I really do this? Can I carry the book through to the finish? Do I have the energy, or the time to actually write this?
Yes, it can be intimidating and scary. However, that huge realization of Aha can lift you up into such a higher realm that you feel carried by some other “force,” or energy. Most likely, this is your Writer Within, and if you tune in and trust her, you can write together – passages you never would’ve believed would come through your pen!
This is where you need feedback from others. You really want to hear that you are on the right track – or not. (Ooh, you don’t want to hear this, but it’s a part of the creative process.) Give the piece time, like your newly baked cake, to sit on the counter and cool. Don’t even look at it for a day or so. Then, return to it and read it through – lovingly. Pencil in any changes/edits you want to make. Make those changes.
Next, give it to one person you trust totally. This is a gentle human being who is not going to slay you with criticism, but will give you honest – and kind – feedback. Loving objectivity is important, not only for the person giving the feedback, but for you in receiving it. For this reason, you should consider that the person you choose may not be one of your family members. Family relationships carry the added weight of history, need and multiple roles; it’s important to remember that our family ways of relating, however supportive they may be, cannot always be mutually objective.
By way of illustration, I learned this myself, the hard way. After I wrote my first novel, I let my brother read the book, and then to celebrate, I hosted a dinner party for 12 people. When I asked him across that table, “Well, what did you think of my book?” He said, “Your dinner is superb.” Thinking he hadn’t heard me, I asked again and he said, once again, “Your dinner is superb.” Suddenly, I couldn’t eat. While he was trying to protect me from negative comments, I would have preferred a more supportive response. But hey, brothers don’t always give sisters what they want, eh?
Choose a person whose opinion you respect, then, make an appointment with that person to discuss it. In other words, make time to receive and understand the feedback, without distractions and without rushing. Just as a parent makes time to talk to her child’s teacher, or a couple makes an appointment to discuss one partner’s diagnosis with the doctor, so you love and respect your project by making the time for this step.
This part of the verification process is crucial because if you just hand it to someone in the publishing world and are rejected, you may never know why – and that can be dismaying.
Eventually, with step-by-step feedback, your project will be ready to go forth into the world. Then, no matter what comes, rejections or not, you just keep on going. Persevere. Keep sending it out and seeing it published.
Remember to …
Romance Your Writer Within and ReAwaken Your Passion to Write
— Dr. Melba Burns