Finding space to write

So I’m talking to my therapist today — and yes, I’m fully aware of how pretentious that sounds, but honestly, she’s the sanity I cling to lately to help me navigate the churning sea of change that is my life. So bear with me a moment before you deafen me with the sound of your rolling eyes.

I’m explaining to her how although I AM making progress on my “to do” list, I’m fairly  frantic about how long the list is and how slowly I’m moving through it. “I need to be working on the book every day but I’m just up to here,” I say, demonstrating by holding my open hand up to my forehead, palm down.

Ever calm, she holds her two fingers about an inch apart and sweeps them across her forehead remarking, “It’s hard to write from this space.”

And immediately I get it. I not going to be able to write from a tight, frantic, bundled state of mind. I need an expansive, creative, open mind (an invaluable prerequisite for any new undertaking come to think of it). And reaching that state means I have preparation work to do; contacts to make, a new apartment to find, an entire move to execute probably within the next month or so, computer and printer to hook up, boxes to unpack, beds (both literal and figurative) to make. In addition, I have to create a permanent work space, hopefully with everything I’ll need close at hand.

And that’s all OK. I have 9 months to get the bulk of my book written and though I originally assumed that meant I needed to work a certain amount of hours each day, I recently realized I don’t actually know the process that’s going to lead to me writing this book. I might spend an entire week writing 12 hours a day; I might spend a month and never leave the house and write furiously. I might write for 2 days and not write for a week. I might do this a milion ways. The point is: That process is yet to be determined. Which is also just fine.

What I know for sure — to borrow an Oprah expression — is that there is no part of me that doesn’t want to write this book. I am 100% engaged by the idea and subject matter. Every time I talk about it I get excited all over again and feel lucky to have such a project.

In fact, my therapist noted that part of this transition from journalist to writer is internal, but another part is the mirroring process — where we show the world our ‘new’ self and then gauge its reaction, adjusting our own image as we go. The conversations I’m having with people who are accepting me as a writer, validating the idea, commenting on the process and even soliciting my advice for THEIR books (that’s already happened!) these are the things that help create in me the expansive mindspace that will make it possible to write the book.

So I’m not panicky anymore. I don’t feel “up to here,” though I’m still wading through my to-do list. I’m trying to accept that this is the process. I can’t do Step 8 before Steps 1 and 2. There’s a time element here I need to respect.

And that’s hard.

But I’m learning.

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4 Responses to “Finding space to write”

  1. mike atwater Says:

    Anne,
    Breath deep and slow. One step at a time. You’re gonna get there. Feel the journey.

  2. carol winig Says:

    Anne – Happy New Year!
    Read Ellen Goodman’s column in today’s POST. (remember that newspaper?) It is her last one as she is retiring and you will find it both uplifting and illuminating. I like her outlook and am sure you will too.

    Billy Lion sends you a BIG HUG!

  3. Di Says:

    I adore this blog. Adore. I love your therapist’s advice and am already using it on myself. Thank you!!

  4. anoa Says:

    think i’m going to cry…you will never grow old if you keep doing what you are doing. amazing!

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