I was drawn to reread Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert recently. I had takeaways when I read it a few years ago but this time I read it for a very different reason. It was for the reminder to give myself grace and surrender to the process. I knew I had a self-care writing session to lead, another writing class in December, a bloglikecrazy challenge coming and pages I needed to edit and submit in November. With all of that on the horizon, it would be natural to think I wouldn’t want to crack open a book, let alone something I’ve read before.
Big Magic serves to remind the reader of the sacred nature of creativity and how you must protect it. Protection looks like not putting too much pressure on it to financially support me, engaging with it and remembering it’s part of my gifting from God. It made me laugh, recognize when I was not honoring my gift and that time spent away to come back to my work with new eyes is essential.
When it came to a close, I knew I wanted to commit deeply. Gilbert describes a ceremony where she took a vow to wed writing when she was young. I may never take such vows but my commitment is riding with me, a silent partner who occasionally reaches over to change the music, hold my hand and take over just when I think there’s no more road left to travel.
Against the advice of a few, I am back for year 4 of #Bloglikecrazy! What is it? And why was the advice so negative you may ask?
Bloglikecrazy is a challenge created by Javacia Harris Bowser of See Jane Write to publish one blog post everyday in the month of November. I have completed the challenge every year for the past three years. I have posted through sleeping on a cot beside my husband in the hospital, travel, during a strenuous 75hard challenge where I exercised twice a day while working my 9-5 and while I felt ill.
So why have I received advice against doing it this year if others have been so successful? Because this year my writing goals and dreams are starting to become more realized and the fear of the few who advised against it (and love me) are that I will drown in a sea of time management chaos.
The truth is their fear is not unfounded. In the next 30 days or so, I will be preparing for and facilitating two writing workshops, working on pages due for a big project in Spring of 2021, present at a virtual Writer’s Conference and Monday-Friday this month, I will be up at 5am for morning routine challenge led by the fabulous powerhouse entrepreneur Amber Aziza. There’s also this little thing called being a wife, taking care of home and working my regular job (remotely).
I will be the first one to admit it’s alot and in the past “alot” meant anxiety and panic.
But I also am going to make myself some promises:
If I miss a day, I will not treat it as a big deal. The earth will continue to revolve around the sun. I will still be a writer committed to her craft.
If I start to feel overwhelmed, I will stop. I am already working on writing I love. There’s no need to apply pressure.
I almost didn’t write today but the truth is as soon as concern was expressed, I wanted to write about it. I missed writing here and when I look back at previous years, I have no regrets.
I just came back from writing class and I wrote and read a piece aloud that made me laugh aloud. I could barely get through it. Now that I am at home, it reminds me how much joy there can be in the writing process. I think it’s as easy to forget as it to remember the deadlines and the pressure that can also come with writing. I am not sure if it’s because the class fosters openness and inclusion but I felt as if I could have said anything, anything deep and true and anything ridiculous and flighty and all of it would have been received the way it was intended.
In addition to other things I am taking away from writing workshop tonight, I am taking the joy. I need to be able to feel that while I am plotting a story line, writing a blog post or scribbling a heartfelt piece in 10 minutes, I am in the midst of a joyful experience.
I am currently working on a project that will be released very soon. As excited as I am about it, I am trying to meet a deadline. The pressure is self-imposed but I care about meeting it for myself. I want to be confident in the work I am creating and if it takes time away from cooking and blogging about a meal here this evening, then it will just have to be.
It’s interesting that the more I try to stretch myself, the more obstacles seem to crop up. For instance, I was supposed to devote a lot of time Sunday to my project and finish up today. However, I didn’t plan for hubby to get violently ill and for me to take care of him in the wee hours of Sunday morning into the evening. Which also meant I didn’t sleep very well and tried to grab a few minutes of sleep here and there while checking on him. I am always happy to put him first but of course that means my head is not with the work nor should it be.
So I am adjusting. Saying no to driving to the store, scrambling to cook something, take photos and post about it.
Even though I know I have other work to do, on a laptop that decided to start giving me problems late last night as I tried to get more editing done, there is still a part of me that wants to say Yes and believe I can do it all. To take No out of the vocabulary.
But I am not listening. I am sticking with “No” because I don’t have longer than 24 hours in a day and it’s more than OK to acknowledge that.
I picked “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert back up again. I have a horrible habit, especially with non-fiction, personal development books of reading a quarter of the way or halfway through, sitting it down and diving into another one. It got worse after coming back from Summit of Greatness 2017 with a whole new stack to add to my dysfunction.
Lately, I have been reading a few pages every morning of Big Magic and there have been several moments where I have been slapping an invisible Elizabeth Gilbert hi-five in my bedroom.
Here are a couple of the gems that caused me to act a fool:
On keeping a day job: “I held on to those sources of income for so long because I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life. I knew better than to ask this of my writing, because over the years, I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay their bills. I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or even bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.”
That passage was screaming at me earlier this week. It was the exact confirmation I needed that I had made the right choice to leave where I was to provide more for our family. The insight was impactful because I realized I was putting undue pressure on my creativity and to be frank, I am not there yet. I will get there but it will take time. I will work on my craft and my discipline in the meantime.
2. On Permission: “It doesn’t matter in the least. Let people have their opinions. More than that–let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business. Lastly, remember what W.C. Fields had to say on this point: “It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.”
When I decided to leave my career at Social Services a few years back, I did not encounter a lot of negativity but I did have some hesitation about proclaiming my choice to pursue writing when I shouldn’t have had a moment’s hesitation at all. It was between me and my God, me and my husband and me and my creativity.
Outside of writing, dancing and a couple of other commitments this weekend, I will devote my time to work on this dysfunction and blissfully get lost in the joy of reading “Big Magic.”
Labor Day was a good one for rest. I spent my time relaxing with my hubby, reading and gleaning wisdom from The Hollywood Commandments by DeVon Franklin, catching up on email and applying for a writer’s group that may take me in the direction that I need. I have been feeling this self-imposed pressure to narrow my focus and become more goal-oriented to grow my career. This is the kind of pressure that I welcome. Earlier this week, I sent a pitch email with some ideas for a guest blog and today, I got a positive response for one of my ideas. I will definitely share more about that in time.
As I was completing the application for the writing group, I became emotional. I do not like to dwell on the past but it occurred to me how stuck I used to be and how willing I was to step in and stay in my own way. I will be eternally grateful for the decision I made to take action over the last year and for leaving the stressful job I was in 4 years ago. I would have never had the mental space to even try to write. As I was walking with a friend at the park today, it occurred to me that although neither of our lives our perfect, our conversation was mostly centered on doing something about the situations we are in. Not just complaining and venting (though we all have our moments). This is the spirit of the Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge. The spirit of Doing. Moving. Trying.
Spent part of my day engrossed in this new book by DeVon Franklin. Excited to be apart of his launch team! Motivating material!
Post-evening walk. Smiling and sweaty.
I am behind on my water intake but the night isn’t over and I will continue to sip and chug if I have to. And if I have to grab my 5lb weights again to do some semblance of a second workout, I will do that, too. I just won’t talk or write about it. I will do it.