I don’t want to call it a fight, but a frequent…heated discussion between me and my ex had to do with me and my writing.
See, writing has never come easily to me – in fact, the only F that ever appeared on my report card was for an English class where the professor loved to have us write essays in class, on demand. Not. My. Thing.
But, yanno, I blog. I write all sorts of stuff - fiction and non-. I’ve chosen to do a certain amount of writing. But inevitably, when I sat down to write, I would stare at a blank screen or piece of paper. And stare. And stare. And then tromp off into her office and pout: “I have a $thing to write, and I’m stuck!”
Her answer, without fail, was “just go write.”
Just go write.
I really grew to dislike that phrase. And oh, I fought it. “I can’t – the words won’t come out” or “I don’t know how to say the thing that’s in my head”. Whatever my excuses, I'd fight and argue and pout some more until I'd finally return to my own damn office, curl up on my weird not-a-couch cushiony area with printer paper and a fountain pen, and start putting bloody words on the bloody paper.
And sometimes it even worked.
So why was it so damn hard, especially when I knew it worked?
Because in order to “just write”, I needed to detach from the outcome. I needed to not only give up the desire to write the Best Thing Ever that is Non-Rambly, Incredibly Helpful, Gets Perfectly to the Point and is Made of Awesome and Win, but I also needed to let go of the idea that I was creating anything at all.
See, that “just write” exercise? Often output pages and pages and pages of nonsensical or otherwise unusable bits of recycling. And oh, my brain hated that. I wanted to be creating, producing, making things! Not practicing. (I can practice guitar for hours, but writing? Not so much. Figure that out.)
It was more than that, though. I am a very passionate person. (I’m an Aries. I was born this way.) I dive headfirst into things, often recklessly. (What? I like to watch things go boom.) But with that passion comes desire, and with that comes attachment.
Attachment and the passionate person: the more you know
When a passionate person like me puts her energy into something, we’re building a connection. It’s a part of us. Its success is our success. Its failure is our failure. (And there may be some control issues nestled in there too. Ahem.)
But detachment can be useful, right? When you’re learning something new, trying to write a blog post, dealing with certain situations…detaching from the outcome can really, really help.
So what’s a passionate person to do?
Get some perspective.
What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen if I write five pages of gobbeldygook instead of a blog post? Global thermonuclear war? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Just no new blog post tomorrow. Check.
Listen to the fear.
When you’re tied to an outcome, it’s frequently because you’re afraid of the alternatives. What are they? Why do they scare you? What can you learn from that? Remember, fear doesn’t have to be your robot overlord.
Reframed and without the fear, what does the task at hand look like to you? How can you redefine what it means to rock that shit? Maybe success is making two phone calls, not booking five interviews. Maybe it’s learning that pesky F#m chord rather than the whole song. Or, yanno, writing for ten minutes, even if all you write is “I have nothing to say” over and over again.
Mastery doesn’t come in an hour, or a day, or a week, or a month. Hell, it takes a month or so just to create a habit! Just because a skill (and detachment is a skill!) requires practice doesn’t mean you’re bad at the thing that you’re trying to detach from. It only means that you’re trying to learn something. And learning is a beautiful thing, my friend.
Don’t give up your passion. That passion keeps you burning bright, keeps you moving, loving, doing. But know that it’s okay to step back once in a while. Flexibility is a thing of beauty. (Or at least that’s what I hear. :) )