As I enter the final week of my first year of graduate school I wonder if, as all Goddard College advisors urge, I have truly trusted the process?
This semester has been a rough one time-wise, emotionally and physically. Those of you who have kept up with this blog over the last couple of years may have noticed a major decline in my postings. And I have missed it. I have missed writing just for the pure joy of it. Don’t get me wrong, my grad work is thrilling and I am writing more than I have ever done before. But there is still that academic standard and deadline hanging over me whenever I write an essay or memoir piece for school. My blog was the place I have always loved to go because writing is my first love. But I have had to neglect that love a little in order to give myself the self-care I needed. As we used say in England, writing this blog became a bit like a busman’s holiday.
And truth is, every time I tried to write something here I immediately gave up. I was thinking too much, wishing myself to write something because I probably should. “Shoulding” on yourself is the best way to get in deep do-do. “Should” implies a standard that “ought” to be met, a criterion to be attended to. I decided to give myself a break and to trust that when I was ready – and needing – to write again, I would, and could.
Yesterday I had to write something for school. I didn’t want to. It was an emotionally-charged piece and I had been avoiding it for weeks. But it was time, no more weeks left to put it off. I recently read John Lee’s Writing from the Body where he suggests doing some physical exercise to get the inspiration flowing (literally, breath-in). When we think about our writing we can get blocked because our real, deep, truth-filled writing comes from feelings, not thoughts; from our body, not our ego. When we write from our bodies, where the breath goes, we are resonating with it, and so then will your readers. Your readers intuitively know when you are writing your truth. So, despite the fact that my Ego was screaming at me that it is only considered Work if you are frowning at the computer screen, I got off my duff and went for a walk.
Having two young kids, walks around the block or into the woods usually include no pensive moments whatsoever. For the first time in years (I’m not kidding!) I walked alone, just my body and my
thoughts feelings. After half an hour I felt a strange bubbling inside and my eyes welled up. No specific emotion was attached to the tears but it felt like something had come unfettered and was now free. As I turned back onto my street, I had the first sentence of my memoir-essay. I walked in and wrote (rather, it wrote itself) for the next two hours. I didn’t think about it at all.
I see now that “Trusting the Process” is really more than that. It is about trusting yourself and your own ability to say what you need to say, learn what you need to learn, and let go of what you need to let go. I left my Head behind when I pulled on my sneakers and headed out the door, it wasn’t needed. Ego, with regret I must inform you that your invitation has been withdrawn.
I wish I had figured that out a year ago! But there has to be a process, a journey first, else you never know you’d gone anywhere.
Prompt: Go for a walk, put on some music and dance, jump… then write whatever comes up.
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