One of the biggest takeaways I’ve extracted from my recent writing experiences and my backpacking trips is the importance of letting go in order to find what we need.
When I write there are times when I really force it out of me. Those are the blogs that seem almost mechanical and off and I can sense them from a mile away when I go back to review old posts. They are pretty much the worst examples of my writing and in so many ways are even worse than when I just cruise through a blog quickly to check the box and say it is done. How weird is that? In many ways it is when I try my hardest to write that the worst writing comes out.
When I relax, let my mind go, get into a state of peace and quiet, rest my fingers on the keyboard, and start typing the thoughts flow right through me. Of course I’ll have to go back and edit and whatnot, but even then the edits are minimal compared to other times. As my writing coach keeps reminding me, let it flow through me rather than from me. In those times I can lose myself in a total state of flow and not have any idea of how long I’ve been typing. When the flow of ideas is done I’m done, and not a moment earlier. In those moments writing is about as opposite of work as it could possibly be, it becomes a mini vacation for my brain and often leaves me grinning while I’m typing away. All this form letting go and letting it flow through me.
I’m a huge fan of interesting dichotomies. Where my brain has been working overtime recently is one that’s an odd struggle.
One of my core values is grit – passion and perseverance for a long term goal or dream. I often think of running a marathon as an example of what grit feels like. Grit is working through the difficult times, busting my butt, smiling while I do it, and knowing that each drop of sweat is one step closer to one of my dreams.
Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the grind itself rather than just the sensation of completion at the end. The memory of the marathon I ran with Becky will last with last with me for eternity. I was so focused on the end goal (completing the marathon) and not on the journey (the training runs) that when the race was over I had a sense of emptiness and loss for a month. It was such a crazy sense of mourning as that goal was now gone even though it had been successfully accomplished. I was too fixated only on the end result and not enough on enjoying and appreciating the insanely hard work it took to get to that end in the first place.
Grit is all about pushing through the discomfort, busting my butt even when I don’t feel like it, especially when I don’t feel like it. It is willing myself to take the appropriate action to accomplish the goal or to at least move me one microscopic bit forward. It doesn’t feel easy, it is work.
So how do I balance these two thought processes?
As I get close to the completion of writing my book I am in a very odd spot. I know I need to grit it out to get it done, but when I bear down and push the only thing that comes out is poor writing. When I let the words flow through me as I relax and take my time to ease into it my writing is so much better, but it takes much more time and space to make that happen. Grit would see me block out an hour each day to write only to see less than satisfactory work, but work that would be done within a month or two. Flow would have me go off into solitude for a few days, to leave the world behind, work my brain through the process, and then spend several hours in a perfect state of flow before heading home.
What I could really use is a balance of both. How I find that balance is a struggle.
What’s truly crazy about this is that I am loving every moment of the twisting and turning of this dichotomy in my brain. The discomfort is palpable, but so welcomed. When I am feeling this stretched and uncomfortable it is a sign that I am growing. As I work my way through this I will continue to learn and refine my practice to improve future writing. Yes, it seems daunting now, but through the difficulty and challenge is when I grow most. I’m excited to learn and move forward.