When my neighbor hollered at me over the fence, I was annoyed. Couldn’t she see I was deeply in my writing process? As the calls persisted, I realized what she was seeing might be a bit misleading. I wasn’t at my computer or furiously scribbling on paper. I was sprawled on the hill in our backyard with my eyes closed, the sun beating down like pure bliss on my face, inhaling the earthy scent of grass.
Like I said… I was “writing.”
It has taken me many years to figure out exactly what this receptive part of my writing process is, and it recently became clear to me — it is the yin side, and I need both the feminine yin and masculine yang in order to keep my writing flowing.
The yin is what I reach for when I need inspiration. I get very still, listen quietly and slow my thinking so I can receive insights from a deeper place. The yang is what I call in when I have some rough material and it’s time to take action, to structure it and move it to completion.
How do I know which is called for? On those days or moments when I am feeling flat, uninspired and my writing robotic…it’s time for more yin. That day I was lying on the hill “writing,” I had been struggling with an article. I had written down all my factual thoughts about it, but there was no passion leading me forward. I kept going in circles with my thinking and frustration was building.
So I went out and lay on the hill and focused on my senses to get present. The bird song, the small rock under my left shoulder blade, the breeze. As my thinking slowed and my heart opened, original ideas and a sense of what mattered most in my article began appearing. No amount of yang “push” at my desk could have gotten me there. It took opening to the receptive yin.
It can go the other way, too. My clue that I’m in too much yin is that I feel dreamy and open and… I may not be doing much. I’m letting images and ideas float through my head, but I don’t take hold of any of them and follow them to completion.
As Julia McCutchen says in the book “Conscious Writing” “The in-breath (yin) signifies filling our creative well and receiving inspiration to do our work; the out-breath (yang) represents giving the fruits of transformed essence away freely as we express ourselves creatively on the page and in the world.”
So when I become stuck or uninspired, I know it’s time to balance yin and yang. I may go from one to the other many times a day or, if I’m in a longer dry spell, I may need to deeply immerse in yin for hours or days to really fill my well. In our fast-paced culture, yin depletion is more common than yang.
This March, at the Creative Soul Writing Retreat, we will focus on deeply filling our yin wells, and then topping it off with some yang momentum.
As for me, now that this blog is finished I think it’s time for some yin relaxing on that hill. Or maybe just a nap…
Feel free to share your thoughts on the blog in the comments section …
Women’s Creative Soul Writing Retreat
Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dharma Ranch in the Texas Hill Country
There is a pulse of aliveness and creativity that lives inside all of us… yet it so easily gets buried in our day-to-day lives. At the annual Creative Soul Writing Retreat (and no, you don’t have to be a “writer” to go), we will wake up our writing, our creative spirits, and our remembrance of what really matters. Steeped in nature and expansive time, we come home to ourselves…
Here’s what a retreat participant recently shared with me…
I went to Carolyn’s Writing Retreat right after my child left for college, and it was nothing less than life changing! First, my old confidence returned. I got a break from the busyness of my brain, which led to a deep sense of self-renewal. In fact, I was able to access creative depths I didn’t even know I had.
The experience took me away from my mundane living and for the first time in a long time, I felt fully, blissfully alive.
Although I had lost hope that I could ever write, at the retreat I not only regained that hope, but I now consider myself a writer.
I almost didn’t go, because I don’t usually give myself permission to indulge in something like this, but thankfully my husband kept encouraging me. I’m so glad that I said “yes” to myself! – Roopa Rao: writer, artist, belly-laugher!
Didi Rowland says
This was so wonderful Carolyn! Being auditory the way I am I had to google “pronunciation of yang”. I kid you not. ;). I had heard people say “yang” and “yong”. Turns out either one is okay. Haha! I definitely have a yen for some yin. See you soon!
Oh I adore those online pronunciation guides. Ha – and how you “have a yen for some yin!” Another trait of writers — we love wordplay!
Janice Friesen says
This reminds me of what I do with the computer. When something isn’t working right I think I have similar choices. I can do the Yang and keep trying and trying and growing more and more frustrated (until I want to throw the computer against the wall) or I can just stop and engage the Yin side. I am SO much better off and usually when I go back to the computer to try again it works OR I can think better about what to try. Great Post! It applies to so many things.
Hadn’t thought of it in terms of the computer, but very true! Thanks for sharing.
Maria L. Gatling says
What a great post! I love those moments…and I really like how you defined them and clarified their unique purpose.
Thanks! Understanding this was HUGE for me!