Available To Inspiration

The shoulds are stifling. They are stinky. And half the time we don’t even know we’re sitting in them!

I may be a free-wheelin’ pantser with an aversion to plotting, but I still like to plan. “I’m going to write this e-book by then! I’m going to work on chapter four of this novel the entire weekend! I’m going to sit my butt in this chair and get THIS part DONE.”

But I’m coming to realize that this isn’t necessarily how creativity works. Inspiration doesn’t like to be confined. Sometimes planning can become a prison.

We tell ourselves that this is the way it should work. That we should sit down and bang it out. And by God, I am in charge of what “it” is!

I truly believe that as a writer, as any kind of artist, we are channel for something bigger. While it’s important to be committed to our projects, I think we also need to remember that we are here to midwife creation, not to dictate what that creation will look like.

Similar to the importance of changing the way we think about our crappy first drafts, this is all about a simple shift of attitude.

It’s about saying:

I’m going to show up for what wants to be expressed, instead of sitting down in a pile of shoulds.

The shoulds are stifling. They are stinky. And half the time we don’t even know we’re sitting in them! Yet we wonder why we’re so uncomfortable and the words don’t seem to flow.

The more I release the shoulds, the freer I am to write awesome, inspired words. The more I release the shoulds, the more available I am to inspiration. The muse can’t communicate with us if we have our fingers in our ears.

I love being surprised by my creations. Whether it is an awesome scene for my current WIP, a poem, a bit of flash fiction, or something else entirely (its purpose I may not yet understand,) the surprise factor only happens when I get out of my own way, stop should-ing myself, and let my muse speak.

If you’re feeling stuck, give it a try. Let go of the well intended plans, the stinky, stifling shoulds, and allow yourself to be the channel that you are.

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3 Metaphysical Concepts For Writers

The muse, parallel universes, destiny and writing.

Okay. I’m going to go out on a limb here. This post may be a little “woo-woo” for some. But if you have an open mind, who knows, it just might inspire you to think differently about your creative process.

I’m a pretty metaphysically minded person. Everything is energy and we can’t always see what’s going on behind the scenes. I believe that in many ways, this mindset helps me as I writer. It helps me have faith in my process… and that’s an important thing to have!

Here are the three primary concepts that give me confidence in my creativity:

1. Writing is a co-creative process.

Two of my favorite voices in the field of creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron, speak of this often. The artist doesn’t work alone. Our creativity is a co-creative process with something outside of ourselves. Some call it God, The Universe, The Muse, Spirit Guides, Angels, The Collective Unconscious, or a myriad of other names.

In her spectacular TED talk, Elizabeth Gilbert shares that ancient Romans believed in a creative, magical entity who lived in the walls of artist’s studios. They called that spirit a “Genius,” and it was their job to assist the artist in their work. Since a writer, sculptor, or painter knew that their creation was the result of a joint effort, this protected the artist from both narcissism and failure.

When the Renaissance arrived all of this changed. Having a genius became being a genius. Now creativity was up to the artist alone. And so the tortured artist archetype was born.

Like those ancient Romans, I like to believe that there is something out there that gives me ideas and guides my writing. (I don’t think it lives in my walls. But who knows.)

The thing to remember is that it’s a joint effort. Whatever (or whoever) it is, it doesn’t arrive unless it knows we’re serious.

2. The book is already written.

Michelangelo famously said: Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

I believe that applies to my writing as well. The story is already there, it’s simply my job to reveal it.

You can also think of it in terms of parallel universes. Okay, I know that’s getting out there. But really, we don’t know if parallel universes exist or not. Let’s just say they do, and that time isn’t linear as most of us believe. If this is the case, your novel is complete. You are simply playing catch up.

It’s a powerful practice to visualize yourself holding your completed book. And if you can believe that it really, truly is complete – even in the midst of first draft woes – well, that provides a huge boost of confidence and inspiration.

3. Someone is destined to read it.

I’ve experienced enough synchronicities, coincidences, and serendipitous events to know that things aren’t totally random. I believe things happen for a reason, and that we’re led to certain books, songs, people, and experiences at exactly the right time.

This means that somewhere out there, there are people who are already lined up to read my next book. It will come into their life at the right moment and they will glean something from it – be it good or bad.

Many authors say we should write for one person, not the crowd. So that’s who I write for: the person who is destined to pick up my book. Maybe it will only be one person. And maybe it won’t be until long after I’m gone. But if my writing touches that one person, I’ve done my job.

I don’t know if these concepts are true or not. What I do know is that they help me feel a lot more confident in my creativity. They feel good to me. So why not?