Gratuitous Cumberbatch photo. Just because I felt like it!
I want to tell you about why its sometimes a really good idea to give up.
You weren’t expecting that, were you?
In my last post, I wrote about the folly of trying. Of pushing ourselves beyond endurance, and as a result, being unable to achieve the things we want.
That post was an example of me writing my own permission slip. That day, I took my own advice. I gave up trying. I spent a lot of time just lying around. I felt terrible, so why do anything else? I simply surrendered to what my body was trying to tell me. Which was, in essence, ‘STOP’.
So far, so good.
The next day, I woke up at 8.30am, earlier than I am normally able to do, and in addition, woke with a clear head.
I grabbed my laptop and opened it up.
And I wrote.
I wrote all day.
In between spells of writing, I stripped the bed, put clean sheets on, did three loads of washing, tidied the kitchen, ironed some fresh pillowcases, made some long overdue phonecalls, and cooked a lovely supper for Husband and myself. I got so much done!
By close of play, i.e.11pm, I had written (get this) 6470 words. Thats 27 pages.
The most I have ever written in one day.
(Round of applause, please.)
And all because I had given myself some much-needed space.
This is why you must learn to stop. Yes, it is important to write every day. Little and often is imperative. Regular practise for any art form is necessary.
And there will be days when you sit down at your desk or in your studio and think: ‘I really don’t want to do this today.’ And when you start, the brush strokes will be ugly or the words will come out like lumps of lead. And then you will get going and things will flow and it will be alright. (In fact it will be better than alright. Because all the pain and depression you may have been struggling with will fly away, and creating will heal you.) That is the point of any practise.
I am not saying you should only write when you feel like it.
What I am saying is that you must recognise that there are some days when your body is leeched to a husk, when your brain is too full or too empty to do anything but be. Those are the days when you need to be gentle with yourself. To put away the expectations. And you will know those days. The days of crisis. The days when Life just steps in and pulls the carpet from under you.
If, like me, you live with chronic illness, working out which those days are becomes a little harder. After 17 years, I am getting better at it, but I’m still not great.
The important thing to remember is that when you release the pressure on yourself, the result is often magic.
Its very Zen to say: let go of perfectionism, let go of expectations, but its easier said than done. We all carry expectations from society, our upbringing, our peers and ourselves. Letting them go is a daily practise in itself. I am reminded however of an old saying I once heard:
“Let go, and Let God.”
Once we stop trying, once we stop tensing up and forcing things, the creativity flows through us freely onto the page or the canvas or the keyboard. When we are free to make crap art, we learn. And invariably, in my experience at least, when we give ourselves permission to make crap, what comes out is pure gold.
So here I am, in the aftermath of this great day of writing, assessing what I have learnt, what I can take with me from this experience. I don’t know if what I wrote yesterday was gold or dross. Chances are it will be about 50/50. I don’t really care. To be frank, it was fun. It was an enormous relief just to spread my wings and fly without judging myself at all.
And I’m looking forward to doing it again just as soon as I can.