When my sweet publisher brought out the paperback version of The Life Organizer, it was partially to nudge me to write another book, which made me feel both wanted and panicked – because for what feels like eons, I’ve struggled to write my next book. I have one novel in the drawer, another started and stalled, numerous non-fiction projects pitched to my patient agent, so many dibs and drabs hewn from my brain’s granite.
But that has changed: I have begun a book!
Oh, that is scary to write. Really, a book? But it’s just a mess of journal pages and notes right now. Do I dare call it a book?
Which brings me to the video of me crying.
When people ask me what I do, I say “I’m a writer.” That’s precisely where a big part of my writing struggle lived. To over-simplify a complex system of self-knowing that has helped me tremendously, I’m a Four on the Enneagram and guess what Fours want more than anything? An identity. We want to be someone, preferably someone wonderful, talented, iconic, and well-dressed. Our greatest fear? Being insignificant. Not mattering.
Needing to write a book that matters has been part of what tied me up. Getting free of that – or continuing to get free as this is a deep pattern for me – is both how I am beginning and part of what I am writing about.
Here is a video of me processing a key moment of understanding during my writing time – it’s super short:
That which has helped me begin and dig in: seeing my pattern of needing to matter and letting it go. Relaxing my body, telling myself, “Nothing can eat me.” Staying present and soft.
When I continually let go of my desire for an identity, then it’s all play! What wants to be created? What would be fun? No need to prove and no need to help. Tell my truth, my experiences, what I observe. That is what I am doing every morning: owning my story.
Oh my friends, this feels so very good! Thank you for sharing this passage with me.
Here are a few more things I have been doing to support beginning & writing the book:
- Calling a friend every day to center before I start work. Hiro calls me at 8 am five days a week. We check-in, center, and go straight to writing. It’s so sweet. Who could do this with you?
- Telling myself while you are working, “I’m in jail. I can’t do anything else.” I read this in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I repeat it when I’m frustrated my writing is so wooden and slow. It settles me down.
- Creating snug, warm nests. I sometimes start writing on the couch with the dogs curled around me. I use music, essential oils, and Freedom to create a cocoon of concentration.
- Prep your project time: I close my email before bed, bring up my writing playlist, tidy the kitchen, roll out my yoga mat, keep the mornings free from appointments if at all possible. What do you need to do the night before to clear the space?
- Forget beginning at the beginning, begin where there is juice! Create out of sequence. Dive in anywhere. Let is be a mess but do keep notes to yourself. I teach about this in Taos – it’s so important. (There may still be a single or double available in Week 1, so please contact Amber[at] jenniferlouden[dot]com if you’re interested.)
What helps you begin a project? What makes it safe for you to claim your stories? I’d love to hear.
To creating freely!