Writing had never felt hard to me before three years ago. Up until then it had been a happy, exciting process full of light. I was always amazed when someone liked something I'd written. I didn't know it then but in my head I believed real writers struggled for the right words. I saw their work as deep and meaningful where mine lacked the substance I'd imagined for them because I couldn't write a book without kissing.
It didn't take long for me to manufacture my own reality. Writing became a chore. I agonized over every word, every blank page, every missed deadline. Don Music and I became drinking buddies. I have the dent in my forehead to prove it.
I smiled at my critique partners and nodded at their encouraging words but privately I hung my head in shame over my creative paralysis. I left the writing group, fearing they had tired of my excuses. I didn't want to become a burden. I quit writing. And then I tried again. And then I quit again. I read books on it. Sometimes I got real with myself, sometimes I let the drill sergeant out of his cage, and sometimes I tried imposing ridiculous deadlines. Lasting change was elusive. I was broken. It wasn't writer's block, it was a writer's unmaking.
Looking back, there were friends and family who had tried to help. They supported me, encouraged me, and some even pushed me a bit because I needed a good old fashioned shove, but I wasn't ready to accept what they were offering. I didn't think I deserved it.
I never felt like I had earned the title of writer because the effort I put into my work had felt so effortless. It was fun, and work isn't supposed to be fun.
As a last ditch effort to save my creativity and thereby my soul (as you can see I am still a bit mellow dramatic about the whole thing) I enrolled in the first of two Creativity Coaching classes taught by Eric Maisel. I took it out of desperation because I was broke, couldn't afford my own coach, and couldn't fathom asking my friends to help when I'd already made it so clear to them I didn't need it. I was tired of holding myself together with scotch tape and paperclips.
Rumi said, "The wound is the place where the light enters you."
Through coaching class, I've ripped open a lot of old wounds. The effect this has had on my life is comparable to dropping a a bagful of Mentos in a bottle of Coke. I won't tell you it's easy because it's not. And I'm not writing 2k a day. Yet. But I am moving forward--baby steps at a time--not just with my writing but in other areas of my life, too. My physical health, my mental health and my relationships are all getting a boost from this work and I'm starting to feel alive again.
I'm building up the kind of resilience and perseverance I need to build a lasting creative practice that works for me. When I started the classes, I told myself I never wanted to be a creativity coach because I didn't think I could do it. After 5 months of work, if I ever get the chance to help someone out of their own creative dark place, I'll do it. I'm starting to build the kind of self-reliance I think is necessary to be of service. I know what it's like in there and the dark is always less scary with a friend.
It hasn't escaped me that Don Music's desperate head pounding could be a small piece of my deep seated beliefs about how easy or hard creating something should be. For years, I'd pictured Don when I thought of how creating made me feel and never realized the significance. What my five year old brain never noticed was that Don had friends. They helped him discover the missing letters in his alphabet song. They teased a version of Mary Had A Little Lamb out of him that only Don could have written. It's always a little tongue-in-cheek but Don was resilient and he finished his songs. Eventually.
Sometimes we need help. And that's okay. If you're stuck in your work--tell someone. Let the light in.
Have you ever heard of a creativity coach? Have you ever used one? Do you have a favorite Rumi quote? Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?