The other day I was sitting in a discussion group when a woman walked in wearing a pale pink “Life is Good” t shirt. She seemed in a good mood… until suddenly she looked down and realized that there were food stains on her shirt. Mortified, she started making excuses, saying that she always left home with clean shirts, she didn’t know where those stains had come from, and how embarrassing.
We all smiled at her in sympathy, and then the group facilitator summed it up in one sentence. “You could replace the words ‘Life is Good,’” he said, “with the words ‘Life is Messy.’” We all sighed in recognition, and the class continued..
Not only is that true, but it’s something to be embraced rather than avoided. Life is messy! So is writing, work, relationships, you name it.
So often writers I work with are trying hard for the perfect, non-messy way to compose a blog or book. They want to start writing, follow in a linear fashion, come to the end and then publish it.
But writing is more like a paint jar. We dip in, we get different colors on our fingers, we are not sure what the final picture is that we are creating but we have faith so we carry on. It gets messy. It gets exciting. It gets dull. The process is like, well, life!
We can stay linear and without the splats here and there if we choose. We can keep the writing so small and controlled that we never step outside the lines. The only problem is that we have to shrink it to the size that we can control. Which makes it very, very small indeed. When we write it we feel contracted; when people read it they shift uncomfortably in their seats.
I started this newsletter on a completely different topic. One I even felt passionate about. Yet as I swung through the jungle of words testing different ropes to climb into my story, I found that none of them held. I dropped onto the ground each time with a gentle thud and grass stains on my butt. But I knew that if I kept swinging, eventually I’d get there. If I was willing to be messy, my point would arrive with a flourish and some ketchup on its collar.
So let’s step out into our writing and lives willing to be messy, to experiment, to try out that place where “Life is good AND messy.” What does that feel like? I think I’ll squirt some cheeze whiz on a cracker and find out…
Pearls for reflection …
- How do you try to control your writing process?
- Does it work?
- What do you fear will happen if you don’t completely control it
- Visualize a “messy but directed” way of writing – what comes up?
I’d love to hear your comments on the article, what pearls you notice when you begin reflecting. Please share your thoughts below in the Reply box …
And just a quick announcement … It’s been more than a year since I’ve offered a writing retreat, and after many loving requests from past participants, the next retreat will be Saturday, November 2, 2013! Find out more and join us if you are ready to get “messy”.
You may reprint the featured article, in its entirety, by including a byline and a link to Carolyn’s website. www.backyardpearls.com
Carolyn Scarborough is a professionally trained creativity and writing coach. As founder of Backyard Pearls, LLC, she helps coaches and heart-based entrepreneurs to unblock their creativity so they can connect with and express what’s deeply meaningful to them. She leads retreats, telecourses and does private coaching with new writers, experienced writers, and those who simply need a creativity boost to launch business and writing projects. She is the author of “Backyard Pearls: Cultivating Wisdom and Joy in Everyday Life,” and is an award-winning magazine writer who has published more than 500 articles in publications around the world.
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