Big News: I am writing a book.
When I say ‘writing a book,’ what I mostly mean is ‘telling people that I am writing a book in the hope that I will actually write the book if enough people think I’m writing a book.
Every once in awhile, I sit with a pen poised over a neatly lined journal or in front of my computer with the intention to write. I set this intention with an elaborate ritual that involves burning sage, meditating, and psyching myself up with affirmations.
‘You’re a good writer.’
‘You have something of value to share.’
‘Your story matters.’
‘You can do this!’
Sometimes I even bounce lightly in place while muttering these phrases, like a boxer about to go into battle.
It’s weird, trying to approach creativity from this positive, affirmational place. To enter into a creative space with love (or at least compassion)(or at least mild affection).
A few years ago my creative ritual looked a bit more. . .violent.
As if of their own accord, images would start to come to me. Scenarios in which I failed miserably. An audience checking their watches or phones as I navigate my way through a tricky monologue. A friend at a story telling show coming up to me afterwards, eyes averted, mumbling something like ‘It was good to see you up, there, man. You’re really doing the thing.’ Or a reader tossing something I’d written aside with a feeling of mild irritation because I’d wasted their time with drivel.
I’d psych myself up with cursing:
‘Come on, fuckwit, just write!’
‘Don’t screw up.’
‘Just get it over with. DO IT!’
Internal voices would chime in with their own harmonizing chorus:
‘Why bother? You have nothing to say.’
‘Sure, go ahead. Make something so everyone can see that you’re a fraud.’
‘Just give up. Have a donut.’
I’d have another coffee, slap myself across the face, and eventually key myself up enough to drown out the voices. If I were feeling particularly dramatic, I might scream ‘SHUT UP!’
Then I’d sit and write or memorize, food tapping restlessly, breath held for minutes at a time. Words coming out in sweeping, panicked torrents.
An hour or two or three later, I’d finish. My chest burned with coffee-acids and my shoulders tensed up to my ears. I’d try to sleep, but mostly toss and turn, buffeted about by seas of fear and not-quite-metabolized caffeine.
In the morning, I’d wake up and read whatever I wrote.
And it would be good.
I’d share it with people or perform it. People would shower compliments on me (clearly, I’d fooled them into thinking I was creatively worthy again). It felt great.
So clearly this process worked.
Then I got exhausted.
My body gave out.
The very thought of writing anything made me pre-emptively ill.
This all coincided, not coincidentally at all, with the period in which I dove deeply into spirituality and a healing process.
A large part of that process has been disentangling Creativity from Fear & Anger.
During meditation, breathwork, or other practices, I sometimes touched a beautiful, peaceful place. It felt like an endless shimmering lake of blue, or sometimes white, energy. I’d dip a toe into this lake and feel the ripples echo out endlessly. As the ripples moved, I felt them moving inside me as well. This energy I felt was internal as much as it was external; it was all around me and inside me.
There was no division.
A few times, I managed to write a bit after emerging from these experiences. And it was effortless. Words streaming like energy from a well so deep inside of me that it was actually universal.
What if, I thought, that’s what writing could feel like all the time?
So I started this new approach. The meditation. The sage. The affirmations. The compassion. The idea, I think, is to create a welcoming space for creative energy to enter.
Sometimes it works.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
It’s a practice.’
Big News: I am writing a book.