Let Go of Expectations
Nothing turns out in the writing process as you expect. That’s the journey. That’s the excitement. That’s the joy of writing. The trick is to let our unconscious take us where we go while we move out of its way.
This process is true of all creating. When my authors expect a specific result, their writing is labored.
I was working with a new author in a collaborative anthology book series written by coaches that I created, edited, and published (for more information about writing in my latest anthology series, go to Awaken Your Creative Genius). During our first writing coaching session, she asked me to give her an outline. I refused. I explained that I rarely suggest using an outline at the start of writing. Too often, it limits the imagination. And indeed, I urged, with the topic of “Creative Intelligence,” locking an author into a specific outline seemed like a bad idea.
I suggested her stream of consciousness writing. Don’t stop; just write until she couldn’t think of anything more to say. Tell stories, tell jokes, swear, misspell, whatever. Just write. She agreed to try it.
Before the next writing coaching session, she sent me her stream of consciousness writing. There were flashes of brilliance, and lots of stuff I suggested she throw out. In frustration, she demanded I give her an outline, as that was the only way she could write effectively. Again, I refused, my reason being that it would exercise her creative intelligence, and that was what she was writing about; you can’t write about something if you are not willing to explore all of what it means.
By the end of the fourth writing coaching session, she had quite a bit written, all scattered. Knowing that underlying her struggle was fear, I asked her what she was afraid of by being spontaneous in her writing. She replied that she didn’t really know what Creative Intelligence was, so she felt someone would see through her writing to discover her lack of knowledge. I responded that was precisely my point. Until she explored what it meant to her, she would never be able to touch the reader with her writing.
What I had also found was that she had an incredible story of moving to this country from a life-threatening situation in her native land. She related her story to me, and I remarked how interesting it was that she had faced so much difficulty and overcome so much fear and physical peril. Yet, she was afraid to expand her creativity in the form of writing her story. At that point, she had a shift.
The next draft from her was full of emotion, intricate detail, and expressiveness. She realized that her decision to leave her family and friends and move to safety required her form of Creative Intelligence and Birthing Your Book. Writing her chapter was simply tracing her process. As she developed the stories, she began to use more rhythm, broader concepts, and specific points (what I call critical beliefs). After three months, she had written a compelling, captivating, and sensitive story of her journey to an understanding of what creating a new life through using your natural intelligence means.
I asked her in our last session if what she wrote was what she expected. She laughed. She said it wasn’t, and she was happy with how the process had happened, that was the result of stream of consciousness writing. She is excited about writing more, exploring new topics, and writing without a preconceived idea of what the result will be.
Exercise two: Write in your journal about what brought you to write. I don’t care if it was a long-term dream, a recent suggestion by a spouse, or that you didn’t have anything else to do with your time. What matters is the truth. Write it down, without thinking about an outcome.