Where was this new material coming from? I thought I’d finished my first draft.
Yet, by making—and keeping—a morning commitment, I often find myself discovering new material.
Some of it may not go in the book. Maybe it’s a blog post. Or a guest article. Or even material for a new book!
Yet, some of it is sure to make it into the book.
Yup. I Skipped Writing.
I skipped writing a couple days ago because I was sure I had no new material to write about. Then I found myself telling my friend Paula about my experiences at Fields of Fire Adventure Park the previous day—doing high ropes courses with my friend Amber and four boys ages 10 to 15.
“Your experience seems to have some powerful parallels to writing.”
Duh. If I’d just spent a few minutes recalling the previous day’s events, I may have written that morning.
But, it’s not too late. Here are my insights from ropes courses, the aerial view and zip lining.
Forget About Being Up High.
From the moment I stepped on the ladder, I stayed aware of how high up I climbed. Each time I stepped onto a new rope obstacle or feature, I became more aware of the distance from the wire, rope or plank to the ground. Not helpful.
Mid-way through my second course (Intermediate!), I forgot the height and my whole body relaxed as I gave myself over to the challenge. After all, should I fall, my harness would hold me up. No worries.
When it comes to writing, forget about what’s at stake. You’re safe. Just write. You can always use your safety net and censor yourself before you publish. Now’s the time to immerse yourself in the writing and forget how high you’re flying.
On the first beginner’s course, I tried not to let the features (planks or ropes beneath my feet) move too much. Guess what? That’s an impossible task. The features are designed to move.
When Amber suggested I just relax my body and let myself swing, during a particularly swing-y feature, I realized how fun it could be to swing. When I put my foot out to bridge from one plank to another, I could just wait until things firmed up, or use my upper body to rely on the rope I grabbed, rather than the plank beneath my feet.
Once I figured that out and let myself swing, I felt the sense of freedom of being up so high, swinging in the trees.
I had visited Fields of Fire twice before, and that lesson seemed to be about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. This time, I found more fun and freedom in the adventure.
How does swinging connect to writing? When we try to control the writing, we often stop short of our best work. Only by relaxing and letting go can we discover new insights in our writing and offer our readers the very best of ourselves.
I had never gotten the hang of the zip line the other two visits. This time, I realized that, instead of jumping off the edge of the platform that surrounded the tree, I could just sit down and feel my harness hold me before I left the tree plank.
Wow, what a difference in perspective that made. Before, it always felt like stepping out off a cliff. SCARY!
This time, I felt safe before I ever started.
Writing sometimes feels unsafe, especially when writing about a traumatic experience or writing something controversial. If that’s the case, you may find yourself feeling stuck before you even start (or when you hit a tough spot).
That’s why I encourage my coaching clients and book writing course participants to develop a plan ahead of time that feels supportive. If you know you’re going to be delving into challenging material:
- Say a prayer or take a walk in nature before you begin.
- Have a plan for what you’ll do when you finish writing (a walk in nature, a phone call or time together with a supportive friend).
- Remember to bring your whole self to the writing and remembering, not just the part of you that went through the traumatic event.
- Make a list of all the supports (people, activities, etc.) you have in your life, knowing you can tap into that when you are done.
- Before you begin, write out your plan for before, during and after writing. That way, you know exactly what you’ll do to stay empowered, or regain your power, if the writing unnerves you.
Do you have a morning writing practice? Do you ever wake up and think you have nothing to write about? Here are some ways to tap into inspiration for generating new material.
- Recall the events of the previous day, anything from picking berries to a walk in the woods to a shell you picked up on the beach. Just write and see what insights come.
- Have a plan for what you’ll write, especially if you are writing a book.
- Write down your dreams. See if you can tie the dream to whatever you are working on at the moment, or to current events (for a blog post, for example).
- Go for a walk in nature and see what inspires you. Then write.
Your Turn: Share Your Insights.
What do you do when you’ve set aside time to write and the inspiration doesn’t come right away? Do you have any tips for finding new material?
Have any summer activities inspired your writing in new ways? How?