I find that dusting down the alarm clock, and waking into the cold, dark January mornings, can be something of a shock after the Christmas hiatus.
And yet, ironically, this time of little motivation is often when we set up the highest expectations for ourselves. Diving in with gusto on the first Monday after the New Year, we determine that, in 2015, we will finish the book, attract the agent, or win the Pulitzer Prize. This will be the year where, on a personal and professional level, it ALL comes together. And yes, it will all come together, but only if we first forgive what we perceive as our past writing ‘failures’.
Creative writing is one of the many tools that we have for processing emotion, re-setting the nervous system, and rehearsing life scenarios.
If it wasn’t prioritised, it’s because something else needed urgent attention, or we were using another tool of expression. Either way, our ‘wild writer’, that evolutionary animal at the core of our being, was doing exactly what it needed to do in any given moment. And if what came out on the page was in a different voice, on a different subject, or differed in genre from what we hoped, well, perhaps it’s time to question our expectations.
How can we learn to go with the flow, rather than against it?
Learning to write well is most helpfully viewed not as a set of failures on the page to be fixed, nor as a quest to find the source of our childhood ‘problems’ in order to clear them away and reveal the great writer. These approaches just pathologise and reduce us. Instead, I propound an expansionist view of writing.
Visualise for a moment a small acorn.
Yourself and your writing project are like that acorn, pre-programmed with everything you/they need to grow into a magnificent oak. If we support and allow the process.
In order to maximize your chances of it all coming together this year, I suggest the following:
Trust that you are a natural storyteller.
Within you, there is a ‘wild writer’ that knows. Our job is to get to know that wild part, to build a relationship to it. That takes time and tenderness.
The danger of putting grand writing plans into action is that in our enthusiasm and impatience, we can jump over the necessary process. So, this year, set yourself smaller writing goals than you would perhaps like. With each completion of a promise to yourself, you build your confidence. The single most important thing as a writer is to stay out of the terrible vortex that results from persistently failing to do what you intended to do.