Having suffered an 18-year hiatus between my first and second books, I know first hand just how painful it can be if you are a creative person who happens to be stuck.
When you are a writer, you study what turns you on and turns you off.
Just like knowing that if you eat too much sugar at night you could have trouble sleeping, or if you drink too much coffee anytime of day you wind yourself up, you have insight about yourself and can make informed choices.
Knowing this information, you can then assiduously avoid that which shuts down the thing you crave, which is to write from your soul in such a way that uplifts you, inspires you and surprises you.
I’ve learned a lot from teaching and practicing yoga for 21 years.
For example, we call it a yoga “practice,” not a “performance.”
Therefore you are never “achieving” when you practice yoga, you’re always just hanging out and exploring what’s really going on in your body and using the yoga poses as tools to enhance your experience, to bring your posture into greater alignment, to rediscover the peace inside.
So it is when I’m writing.
I’m always just throwing down some words, sensing how they land and searching for a felt sense of inner alignment.
Whenever I hear about people who tell you to write from an outline, I think, “Well those people really don’t know what they are talking about” or “Gees, whoever told somebody to do it that way is making things almost impossible for you – no wonder you hate writing.”
Or when I hear people tell me they are doing “research” on a book, I think, “Well that’s just a massive way to procrastinate and get yourself all twisted up in a knot.”
All life is research for your books. You don’t really have to do anything – just live.
Anyway, I’m currently somewhere in the middle of writing my 8th book.
It’s a mess, and that’s as it should be.
I have no idea where it’s going, and that’s as it should be also.
I’ve learned that if I were to know where I thought I was going my ego would be directing the process – as opposed to my soul – and no doubt my limited little ego would fuck it up somehow as what do I know anyway, practically nothing.
Better to be in the middle of a mess, uncertain but intently curious.
Better to be praying my way to the truth.
So here’s my current process, such as it is:
- As I wake first thing in the morning, begin to pray. I actually pray all day long so the fact that I wake up and pray is just part of the background. Even though I know many prayers and have written quite a few myself, the one that comes to mind most often is my favorite mantra the Lord’s Prayer. And even though I know the Lord’s Prayer, I use it almost like an internal tuning fork. I keep stumbling over the words inside my mind until I can flow through the entire thing, word by word, line by line. When I can recite the entire Lord’s Prayer from beginning to end with complete ease then I know I’m in alignment with divine guidance. This praying thing that happens isn’t consciously controlled, it’s more of a habit, just like a runner might instinctively stretch out that which feels a little tight before taking off sprinting.
- Meditate. There are many different tools I use for meditation. I like Insight Timer, a free meditation app that you can download for your smart phone. It has currently 5,066 free guided meditations of every conceivable method, so you can always find something helpful. I used to listen to the coyote music from the great writing coach Tom Bird. You can get it for free at this link if you give him your email address. The English writing coach Tom Evans also has some great meditations to open up your divine connection. His online course Heart-Full Living has a meditation called Opening to Channel that is quite powerful. But sometimes after praying I just allow my mind to fall silent.
- Allow. After praying and meditating, I just wait for whatever it is that I’m supposed to write that day simply show up. This is like when you’re all curled up to watch a movie on Netflix, you’ve got yourself snuggled in a blankie and propped up with pillows and your feet elevated, the lights are out and you’re just waiting for the scene to begin. Without my mind directing anything, words, phrases, ideas appear. The movie starts rolling. At it’s best you’re a little surprised as the thing unfolds. You’re not really sure if it’s a comedy or a tragedy, you’re waiting to find out. Somebody asked me recently if the 12 plays I wrote a long time ago were comedies or tragedies. “Yes,” I responded. Meaning all of the above or who knows. Now this is the thing that I’m recognizing – if I try to force anything, nothing works. I’m trying to take this insight into the rest of my life. I just stop judging my process, not worrying whether I’m doing it right or wrong, not worrying whether what’s coming out is a comedy or a tragedy, I just try to stay in the middle of it, which means to stay in the flow and not get out of the river. By allowing the flow it all works so much better. I learned the allowing thing while I was writing my second Amazon No. 1 bestseller Unlimited Energy Now. If I tried too hard I would simply give myself a migraine. My head would hurt so bad I would end up heaving by the toilet bowl unable to write for the rest of the day.
- Write. Writing at its best is simply taking dictation from your soul. The hardest thing for me right now is hitting “Save” on my WordPress. My computer server seems to be running a bit slow and the system frequently hits a dead space refusing to cooperate. I save what I write and after hitting the “Save” button I practically hold my breath hoping it all doesn’t get lost in the ether.
Recently I found myself talking to a friend.
“I love to write!” I heard myself exclaiming.
When I heard those words come out of my mouth, I realized I have finally learned how to write well.
Just as I always enjoy my yoga, my walks in the park, my gardening and raising my orchids, by finding a way to enjoy my writing I have gotten into alignment with my true soul nature in such a way that hopefully I can continue the rhythm the rest of my life with grace and ease.