Writing got much easier for me when I understood it as a practice that had less to do with interesting stories and crisp sentences and much more to do with getting into the creative flow and staying there for as long as possible. The creative flow is not something one can do; it is a state of mind in which our highest form of creativity is possible. In fact, I think it is the only state of mind in which actual creativity is possible. Everything I have written out of the flow is just my best imitation of what I wrote while in the flow. This sort of writing always feels dead and unreal to me, a body with no soul. Yet as easy as writing can be while in this flow, it is just as easy to forget that the flow is real when I am out of it. It is like happiness itself. When I am happy, I understand happiness. I understand what it feels like, and why it is life’s only worthy destination. I understand that I don’t need more and have never needed more. There is nothing to debate, nothing to prove, nothing to justify. When I am happy, the only question I am interested in answering is, “How do I keep this going?”
When I’m unhappy, happiness feels like a fairy tale, a story invented for children to distract them from the realities with which adults must wrestle every day. We try to wrestle reality into a shape in which we might suffer a little less. It’s hard work, this struggle, and while in it hearing talk of happiness can seem like an irritating distraction – a siren song of frivolous pleasure luring me from my important, difficult work. A day spent struggling and laboring in this way always ends with a feeling of failure. Did I not work hard enough? Should I work harder tomorrow?
I asked myself those very questions for many years, having ended so many days feeling the tightening noose of failure around my life. “What is the point of this struggle?” I’d ask myself. When no answer came, I had a choice to make. It is the same choice I make every time I sit before a blank page. Am I writing for money or fame, to save the world, or prove a point? Or am I writing because it’s the easiest way in to that creative flow? When I decide the flow is reason enough, when I decide feeling good is reason enough, being happy is reason enough, I have given myself permission to live again.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence. You can find William at: williamkenower.com