Overnight the buds popped on the trees and the jacarandas are exploding with brilliant lavender blooms. Spring fever is here and – oh – there’s a fat robin red-breast…welcome to working with a Spring fever. The phrase that keeps coming to mind for me is “Crazy Wisdom” (coined by the founder of Shambhala Buddhism, Chögyam Trungpa) which refers, according to Steven Goodman, “to someone who seems to be intoxicated with an un-bounded, luminous, loving energy.” It aligns with the concept of the sacred fool, or as personified by the famous picture of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue – the man considered an uber genius has a moment of silliness, and balks at being asked to smile for the millionth time.
So this post celebrates that feeling – rebirth, new energy, surprise – and the moment of unblocking – when there is metamorphosis. The awe and wonder when we think to ourselves, I really didn’t see that coming.
The Wisdom of a Hot Shower
I was reading an article in Guardian where Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall among other books, writes so aptly about her process, “I concentrate well. I’m not tempted by the internet. If I’m redrafting, fine-tuning, I print the text and take it away to read it on paper. But if I’m writing straight on to the screen, I tense up till my body locks into a struggling knot. I have to go and stand in a hot shower to unfreeze. I also stand in the shower if I get stuck.”
Because clearly standing in the shower loosens things up.
I’m here to say that logic and common sense can sometimes have very little to do with the creative process. Unlock and unfreeze your expectations of how things are supposed to be. The truth is that writing isn’t all velvet robes, hookahs, romantic storms, and cats that gaze at you lovingly (vs. sitting on your computer “accidentally” erasing your draft).
The Talking Cure
I was talking to personal coach Caroline Donahue about how to move forward in my own writing (even teachers need teachers!) and I suddenly blurted out (shocking to me because I had not had my customary cup of coffee) that I was having totally different issues sending memoir based pieces out for pitch and publication than fiction. Fiction feels safe and memoir feels unsafe. I have very different relationships to the two genres and I realized I needed two different types of editing, and new processes to alleviate my fears. It isn’t the work that is the problem, it is recognizing the block and figuring out a way around it.
Talk it out with one of your friends who are most aligned with your greater goals. And if you don’t have one, now is the time to be on the lookout for some new blood in your social sphere.
I’ve started an accountability check-in with a new writing friend. It is a once a week email tallying up the word count with a short paragraph on whether the writing was easy or hard and why. I managed to do about half of what I had idealistically outlined as a goal. Still, being honest and stating what kept your from your work keeps it at the front of your mind. In the phrase “do your best” I think the most important word is “DO.”
Stick your tongue out at your most exalted goal. And take a silly walk…
Resources to Help Find Your Way
Other articles I’ve written in my endless quest to keep you, dear reader, inspired!