My friend just sent me a link to an article called “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” It reminded me of a wonderful speech I heard at the SCBWI conference in LA last summer given by one of my favorite new authors, Deborah Underwood. She wrote the amazing picture book, The Quiet Book. It is no surprise that her essay was all about the power of quiet and how it can actually motivate us to write more by thinking and working less. This may not be the ideal for a procrastinator like myself. On the other hand, sometimes we reach a “stuck point” in our writing where we can’t seem to go any further. What then?
I have actually been at this “stuck point” for a while now, hence the procrastination. Sure, I’ve been working on art projects and writing this blog, so I’m technically not doing nothing. But I’ve only dabbled with the novel. I haven’t really delved back in, even though that is exactly what I need to do. I’ve been avoiding it because I’m scared to face it. I’m actually scared to find my voice on the page. Maybe I’m afraid of what I’ll actually find if I do. Part of me thinks I just don’t have the answer. But guess what? That turned out not to be true, either.
On the airplane to Japan, I started stressing about how to approach the novel revision at this point. A 10 hour flight can really make you think! I was trying to force myself to come up with answers about who my character really is and what she wants and how she will find it. Needless to say, the more I pushed, the less I figured out. I actually didn’t solve anything. Then I tried something I hadn’t. I just “let it go.” First I studied Japanese, but then I decided to let that go, too. How much more would I learn in a few short hours? Then I watched movies the rest of the time. And slept. I even played Tetris on my new iphone. When I got to Japan, I spent time with family, shopped, visited some amazing shrines and temples, ate a ton of food, and took a few good walks despite the cold weather. I didn’t think about the novel at all.
Here’s the surprise. On the trip back, my mind was waiting for me once again, but this time with answers. Unexpected ones. Just ideas mainly. Experiments. But I felt hopeful.
Once again I have the chance to play with words. All by letting go. Funny, my horoscope said the same thing. But I kind of rolled my eyes when I saw it. After all, who wants to practice letting go? It makes you feel like you’re letting go of your dream. But trust me, you aren’t. You’re giving it space to play. To dance. And when the time is right, you will rejoin it in that dance. And it will be spectacular. But only if you have the courage to let it be, first. Thanks Beatles 😉
“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”