I’m learning over and over that this writing journey is a long “YES” in the right direction.
Euguene Peterson, translator of The Message Bible, wrote a little book in 1980 that has become a classic. It is called A Long Obedience in the Right Direction. The description found on amazon.com reads:
As a society, we are no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, email and the Internet may have intensified our quest for the quick fix. But Peterson’s time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same–a long obedience in the same direction. Tucked away in the Hebrew Psalter, Peterson discovered “an old dog-eared songbook,” the Songs of Ascents that were sung by pilgrims on their way up to worship in Jerusalem. In these songs (Psalms 120-134) Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as we learn to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community and blessing.
And so it seems to go with writing.
I carve out time. Unless sickness overtakes me or a babysitter needs to cancel, I am there, at my desk, the library or a coffee shop, writing.
I find myself struck with inspiration at the most random times. This is when I grab my phone and create a voice memo or a new section in my notes app. I love when inspiration hits. I am fueled by this part of the creative process. The “dreaming big stage” is by far my favorite.
One of my favorite podcast episodes is featured on The Tim Ferriss Show. In this, Tim interviews BJ Novak (actor and writer who plays Ryan on The Office). BJ is brilliant by the way. It’s funny how I instantly associated his true personality akin to that of the character he plays on the popular sitcom. Not quite the case at all.
Anyway, in this interview, BJ talks about a “blue sky period.” This is a period of time where the writers of The Office are allowed to dream big in regard to the writing of the episodes. No idea is off the table. They allow the ideas to sit with them for a matter of days, weeks even. During this time, anything goes and no idea is a bad idea. The writers begin to fall in love with their ideas. They begin to develop the plot further and further. If Dwight is going to the moon in one episode, by the end of the “blue sky period” you, as a writer, have developed and fallen in love with the idea so much that nothing can convince you of changing it.
Hands down, this is my favorite stage of writing. Let the ideas flow. Don’t edit; just create. I have a long list of ideas for content. Sometimes I “feel the fire” (so to speak) behind these ideas and I follow the rabbit trail to see the ideas to their completion. Other times, the idea seems stale, or isn’t ready to become anything quite yet and then, I wait.
I leave it on the “idea list” and wait for the fire.
This is my process.
And then I hit times where I know the harder work of editing and piecing together ideas comes. I know I have to power through during this. The fire is no longer blazing. I begin to question my ideas. Things get hazier, a lot less clear and in those moments, I have to remind myself that the end goal is not perfection.
In the end, a lot of crap has to be written to find the gold. And every piece of written work does not have to be a bestseller, or even really great and meaningful. It’s a healthy reality check—a reminder to not take yourself or your craft all too seriously.
And yet, at the exact same time of not taking it all too seriously, it needs to become the very most important and serious thing.
I know the underground work has to be done before I can feel or see the outward results of my work. It’s like preparing the soil, weeding the bed, priming the area so that the plants will grow and the harvest will come. And that can be a difficult stage for me.
But I do it.
It’s a long yes in the right direction.
I have a vision for this “writing thing” that I haven’t felt before.
My sights are set and I am carving out time as consistently as possible. I’m sticking to my scheduled times. In addition, I’m fitting in a bit of writing in what Emily P. Freeman, author of A Million Little Ways and creator of The School for Creative Direction (a course I took in the spring that really jumpstarted my writing journey) lovingly refers to as, “the crack time.” Ha! Those are the little moments found here and there in the course of our days where we can squeeze in a few more moments of writing.
And yet… everything I read says, “You must write everyday.” Every accomplished author that I’ve come across, read or discovered in a podcast, book or blog says daily consistency is a necessity to your success.
And while I agree that a daily writing routine would help to build a bit of momentum for writers, that’s not where I’m currently dwelling.
That’s not my life now.
And instead of spin over the fact that I’m “not doing what ALL writers across the board are suggesting one do to build a successful writing life,” (deep breaths, stay focused, repeat positive mantras, “DO NOT spin,” “you are OK,” “you are still a writer”), again, that is not my current reality.
And maybe, perhaps, their definition of success is not the same as mine.
And I have decided that is more than OK.
I am choosing to embrace my pace. It’s a long yes in the right direction.
I will not be lazy and let this dream fall by the wayside.
And for the first time, I don’t feel discouraged. I don’t feel frantic about NOT doing what the experts are suggesting. I feel peace. I feel confident that this is they way it should be for such a time as this for me.
As I say “yes or no” to writing each day, I will evaluate why I am saying “yes” or “no” and determine whether it’s a good answer for me in the moment. If so, I celebrate it! If not, I learn and keep going.
But, I don’t give up.
I will not be inconvenienced by the complexity of it all.
I believe the writing dream and the writing journey
are both JUST as important (if not more)
than the end writing result- whatever that may be!
And my definition of success isn’t found simply in pounding out the words on my laptop or in my journal. My success is found in experiencing life along the way, while making writing an important priority too. After all, the living of life is what provides the lessons, the content, the inspiration for what I am building—for what I am creating.
Just the other day, I was in the kitchen. The girls were passing in all different directions with a flurry of movement that only accompanies purposeful play.
I had a quick check-in with myself. “What are you feeling?” I silently asked. And I found I was feeling disappointed. We had 3 different activities planned for our day and for various reasons, none of them were panning out.
In the midst of my disappointment, I realized a lot of what was motivating me to get out and about, busy with activity, was an external pressure to “show” the social media world that we were indeed having a productive and incredible summer. Pictures of the kids’ strawberry picking, visiting the zoo, going on hikes and gobbling up melting ice cream cones said “incredible summer.” Staying in pj’s until noon while all made plans flew out the window did not. Ho-hum.
So, I repeated a common mantra quietly to myself,
This centered me and brought me back to the present. And in it was a gift. There was giggling as I heard snippets of their conversation as each girl passed by. Their excitement mounted as they planned to build forts and create the fairy dream world that already existed in their imaginations. They were gathering props and making plans. This is typical of most our days for all 3 girls- ages 3, almost 6 and 10.
And in that centered moment, I landed on my holy ground.
I felt the feet of my spirit plant solidly into the soil and
peace surround my heart.
All disappointment left and I was able to embrace my true self and this is what I heard her whisper to me, “This is what you love. This moment. These days. These times.”
It may not be true for all moms, but it is for me. I enjoy the ordinary moments of being together the most. Some moms find their “wheelhouse” in planning a stellar trip, crafting a creative endeavor or putting into play an adventurous outing. Now, don’t get me wrong; I do love a good adventure. I’ve had a bit of success at planning some trips, but my sweet spot lies in the ordinary moments like these.
And then I wrapped my arms tightly around our “tousled hair and pj’s until noon” state of being and hugged it real good. I embraced it—in all its dragon-breath, un-brushed teeth glory. And it felt really good.
And I was reminded of this (an original thought from @wildandfree.co that has been paraphrased with her ever so soul-shaking eloquence by one of my favorite insta-gramming Mommas out there @thegraygang)
We must make our children believe that the control center to fun does not lie outside our front door. All the fun to be had right now exists freely here… at home… with their own family. And that they don’t have to leave these walls, in exchange for the rest of the world, to find out who they are, or what they are made of, or if they are worthy… they can achieve that right here. With us. Together. At least until they are more than ready.
And as I embrace this current pace, I find much life in the journey of experiencing these simple moments. Together.
Those moments that are…
…ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.
…both mundane and magical.
…boring and beautiful,
and, always more full of life than anything I know.
Moments that, held at face value, don’t seem to mean a whole lot and yet carry the magnificent weight of shaping our world.
So, friends. Cheers to embracing the pace!
In any endeavor, dream or moment. In the writing and the mothering. The pressure is off. Let’s just breathe and be present to today. And say a long, exuberant yes in the right direction.