When I ask myself why I never finish anything- my mind will assume that this question is valid and that the statement is true and I will supply all kinds of evidence and end up concluding that I shouldn’t even bother writing.
I call this particular kind of self-questioning leading the witness.
It’s like there is this big trial going on inside me and the prosecuting attorney wants me to confess that I am guilty of never finishing anything–and of course I have this very compliant witness inside me that is swayed easily and will provide lots of evidence that I am guilty as charged.
But the thing is it’s not true. I’m not guilty. I do finish things all kinds of things.
I have learned that when I feel stuck or confused, I try to ask questions like: What can I do today to get back on track- to keep me excited- to keep me focused on my writing goals? How can I make better choices to keep going when I get bored or confused by my script— or how can I increase my focus when I am distracted and in danger of losing my momentum? These questions are more effective because they have me asking a wiser part of myself how to do what I am trying to do.
A writer asking themselves why they are not writing might miss the implied judgement in the question, and judgement of self is not useful for moving forward in life or in art.
Judgement– to stay with the legal metaphor is a way to punish yourself and lock yourself up in a prison of self doubt. Or if that’s too dramatic-it’s a good way to slow you down or even cause you to give up.
Who, what and how questions imply that there is a solution. These questions move us into a part of our brain where we can strategize and plan and problem-solve and analyze. How can I get the support I need? How can I organize my time to make room for writing?
If we want to transform something, change something, finish something, asking why is not the best way to do it.
Of course writers need to ask why their characters do what they do. Asking why can helps justify an action or a decision. But, writers do not need to supply evidence of their lack of discipline, dedication or actual talent around writing itself. That is a waste of your time.
So if you are wondering why you aren’t writing, don’t ask why.
If you do–well–I object–the prosecutor is leading the witness.
“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
It’s December 31st 2017. I am re-blogging this post from 2013, a very difficult year in my life and I’m sending it out to anyone who has struggled this year.
Life this year has been stamping it’s foot, screaming at the top of it’s lungs–that I should face my life and not look away. Well I have faced my life. I’ve stared it down, and looked directly at jmany harsh truths. I’ve struggled with all my might, mostly against my own self torment. And here is what I have learned.
1. Not to fear my fear.
2. Not to feel bad about feeling bad.
3. Not to be ashamed of my shame.
4. I have everything I need to create change in my life.
5. And sometimes disappointment and grief and loss are our greatest teachers.
So on this last day of the year when people are celebrating, I am going to take a moment to speak to those who are not.
If it has been a tough year for you–and you think you have nothing to celebrate–let me send you a message of hope. You are brave and amazing and resilient and strong, even if you don’t feel that way right now. And if you are looking into the abyss of your own lonely heart, let me tell you that I know what that is like.
Be kind to yourself. Be loving with yourself. Forgive yourself. Let yourself feel whatever you feel.
And if you have a hole inside you-that you can not fill or if you are angryand afraid, if you have a wound that has never healed–a mark that will not go away–remember you are absolutely beautiful, and your torn and tattered heart, only makes you more so.
I like to think of the Japanese idea of Wabi-sabi- and the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
So Happy Wabi Sabi New Year to you my kindred family.
I have hope for you even if you don’t right now.
Let me hold your hope for a while. It will be here when you need it.
You are going to feel happy and stardust shiny again.
“There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.” ~ Byron Katie
Today, I had the urge to write about something that I was outraged about. I was annoyed about a particular internet art star. I wanted to be the kid in the crowd who cries out that the emperor has no clothes. But I changed my mind. And even if I am right and the emperor is truly naked a lot of people love her. A lot of people hang on her every word and lavish fawning praise every time she overshares on her facebook fan page.
My grandmother used to say- “A still tongue in a wise head” In other words, keep your opinions to your self. So I will. I will not blab my snarly opinions, even though I want to. I will not be a critic. I will not be a judge. I will hold my tongue. It is just me being skeptical, about what I see as bullshit.
Truth is, I feel threatened by it. Not sure why. Some form of jealousy maybe? Some kind of resentful feelings about her success. Feelings of injustice maybe? My judgements might be my own insecurity. I don’t know. Then again I could be right. My skepticism could be spot on. What I see as a load of crap,could be indeed–crap.But it’s not my business. People apparently love crap. So who am I to try to counter that. Who am I to tell them what to believe. So I have told myself– Don’t sit around grumping in self righteous indignation about whether or not someone deserves their success.
You have your own work to do. I am reminded about my grade two teacher Mrs Clippingdale who never listened to tattle tales. She said if we were busy doing our work we wouldn’t be noticing other people not doing theirs. So thanks Mrs. C. I am taking your advice. I will do my own work. It’s not my job to save the world from naked emperors. Life is too short. So now–Back to work on this play. I am on draft three of that and I have a ways to go. Right now my play sucks so I need to stop avoiding it with indignation and other wastes of time.