Geetanjali Mukherjee

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Cultivating Patience

Lately I have finally been finding a bit more time consistently to write, and been feeling a little frustrated, because for some reason the words aren't flowing and it feels like I'm dragging my boots through treacle. When this happens, I find myself staring at the screen, or trying to think of what I was about to say when the words sort of dry up in my head, or I start to type something and it feels like I have forgotten how to structure sentences.

Julia Cameron, creativity coach, says that this is "chop" - when your work starts to fall apart and it feels like you cannot proceed even one more inch. She says that apparently this period of struggle is necessary, and when you get through the other side, you are somehow better, your work is more polished, different. Its good to know that I'm not alone in feeling like this, that perhaps this is normal. Its tempting to think - oh, at the end of this period I will be a better writer. And be grateful for this upheaval in my writing process.

Except I'm not. To be honest I don't want to be one level better. I want instead to just be back to where I was - so that I can use this rare time I have to race through my work, and get at least a draft done.

And this is where Julia warns us, that artists need to learn patience. That fun as it would be to race through the draft, perhaps what I need to learn is to take it slower - to allow the work to find its own rhythm. This is probably what is hardest for me - when the work is hard, or when I look at my abandoned drafts or the major revisions I have planned - that's when I wish I could click my fingers and I would be at the other side, of the draft, of the piece of writing. I would be at the side that can look at the work and say, yes its really good. I can be assured of the quality of my work, possible assured that I am on the right path, yes this writing stuff really is for me.

And that's why patience is hard. I want results right now, because I am anxious. What if I am not a 'real' writer? What if I could complete this manuscript, and it would do really well, and then I would feel secure in my ability and my writerliness. So impatience really isn't my problem. Its needing approval and validation.

Julia always says - what if everyone were capable of being creative? What if there were no such labels? I don't know if I can contemplate that - but for now, I have my own question. What if I didn't need to prove myself - what could I write then, if I had no fear - of being judged, of failing, of falling short? How much more could I succeed?

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