Writing Coach Insights: On Creativity, Hard Living, and Letting Go


Have I mentioned too many times the importance of humility in the creative process? If so, I don’t mind; this is such a big concept to get that it is worth reiterating. And it’s something that’s easy to forget; so many of us with control-freak tendencies (um, like, everybody) imperceptibly slip back; the thinking, planning, plotting mind takes over, and we’re back in the territory of writer’s block.

For me, I didn’t know about this whole concept of surrendering until life kicked me to the ground and wouldn’t let me up again until I cried uncle. It took quite a beating for me to finally understand what was going on: I am not in control, not of life, not of my creativity. The only control I have is to surrender and have faith in my ability to connect to a creative source that will never fail or run out. Call it whatever you want: Source, The Universe, The Great Mystery, The Beyond, God… maybe you pray to your fancy pen or your brand new supercomputer… call it what you like.

But what a relief it is: there is a wisdom greater than your own. You don’t have to have the answers. Yet, if you’re able to position yourself in a certain state of consciousness, you can become connected with this greater wisdom, and it can come through you. It comes through in many forms: poetry, fiction, drumming, advice spoken to a friend in need, needlepoint, gardening, deep breathing.

THAT is the important work, attending to your own state of consciousness so you can bring through something from a higher place than ordinary thought. That’s how you become a good writer. (Technique helps, too, but that’s another discussion.)

What helps you get to this state of consciousness? If you’re lucky, you see it without having to suffer first. Maybe you’re raised with some kind of mindfulness practice: meditation, music, art for art’s sake. Maybe you stumble upon it by chance or out of necessity. But most of us have to get kicked in the shins a little bit before we have any real idea what it is to surrender. We have to come to a brick wall and even slam ourselves against it a few times before we get the point that our way of approaching things simply doesn’t work.

But usually, we keep trying before we get the point. We get bruised, we get exhausted, we bleed, we fall down before we’re willing to admit that there’s a wall at all. The wall is ourselves, our old ways of doing things, and it won’t move until we do, until we decide it’s not worth the pain anymore to cling to old ways, and then, it’s not that we move the wall; we simply turn and walk in a different direction. The wall no longer matters; it is no longer who we are.

You have to get humble to turn yourself around. You have to stop struggling. You have to lie down and let the sky rain on you.

The good news is that once you’ve been to this place, you don’t have to go back there in order to get into such a state of surrender. Hopefully, you remember. It’s a good lesson—falling down, getting wet, giving up on what doesn’t serve you, admitting that you’re—what?!—wrong.

Hard times help you know how to write well. They make you humble and therefore open. This is why writers sometimes say they only write during difficult times; difficulty helps us acknowledge that we’re overwhelmed, that we can’t cope, that we’re not as in control as we wanted to think we were. We get low; we get humble.

But it doesn’t have to take a disaster to write a good poem. If you cultivate mindful openness, humility, surrender, you can sustain your creativity under any circumstance.

Contact me to learn how working with a writing coach can build your confidence and connect you with your inspiration.


Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash