To become a writer, or to go through any life change, though there is not one specific path, there is one specific requirement: rethink who you think you are and adjust your immediate world to match. Why? Because you are no longer you. Embrace it, don’t resist, or suffer the consequences. Rue the day…go on, start ruing!
Think of resisting change like deciding you’ll just live with chronic pain instead of seeking treatment. At one point, it was intermittent and you hoped it would go away on its own. Then it becomes part of your everyday life because you’re too afraid to see a doctor. Finally, somehow, deep–or not so deep–in your subconscious you decide that the pain is now a part of you because it’s too late or it will cost too much time, money and effort to treat it.
What you’ve really decided is that you like the excuse this pain gives you not to do those things that are hard and scary. You have an excuse not to exercise though you know should. You have an excuse not to take the vacation every year you tell friends and family you’re going to take, “when you feel better”. You gave an excuse not to change careers to something that doesn’t inspire the desire to to drive a fork through your right eye every weekday morning…and Sunday night.
Frankly, you have an excuse not to leave the house and become a hermit, buying everything you’ll ever need from Amazon: toiletries, groceries…cat food. Yes, you will become “that person” in apartment 3b with the twenty cats and funky smell. I’m just saying…
Resistance is futile! Life alters you if you don’t alter when it does.
Decluttering Your Old Self
I’ve changed fundamentally in the last 3 years. Slowly, painstakingly and rewardingly. But, it took me a minute to realize that my life no longer fit me, or I no longer belonged to the life I built.
For example, late last year I had this sudden awareness that completely put me outside myself, like an outer mind-body experience. For months prior, I felt my apartment was making me sick. Not that there was some invisible gas like carbon monoxide or hidden toxin like mold. But my mind did go there for a minute…I have a ridiculously active imagination…or paranoia, whatever.
Anyway, I just felt sad, annoyed, depressed when I was home, but fine when I left the apartment. Home became the last place I wanted to be, which, for a natural introvert and homebody, was baffling. It was strange not to feel connected to a place that was always my refuge from the clamor and bloody insanity of the outside world.
I finally realized that a lot of the things in my personal space were things that didn’t belong to me anymore. Or rather, they didn’t belong to this current version of me. And not just the things in the space, but also how the things in the space were laid out. I felt different, but the space I was living in, the space that I spent a lot of my time everyday, had not changed.
I have a beautifully decorated apartment. A space I decorated and organized myself. I love interior design. I love DIY. I like to make and organize and rearrange. I have two arm chairs and couch cushions that I reupholstered, curtains that I sewed from scratch, furniture and accessories I thoughtfully bought and arranged throughout the years. But, the things in the space and the entire space itself, although still loverly, now felt possessed of old, false, and now irrelevant feelings that made me feel like I was living in someone else’s home, and to some extent, someone else’s life. Think, invasion of the home snatchers.
I decided that I’ve come too far to fall back to how I used to feel and I used to be in the world. That includes how I occupy the world and “decorate” and organize my personal spaces. My body felt this before my mind could catchup. I was in essence, different, but I was living in the same space; like a recovering addict who still lives in the same place where she shot up many times and almost OD’d.
So, I bought the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and have been de-cluttering and reorganizing ever since. I feel much more in sync now when I am at home, though not completely. According to the book, and my progress so far, it will take about 6 months to completely de-clutter and renew my apartment so I feel that it and my mind-body are uncluttered and organized. It’s truly a transformative outer to inner process. I also find, I am writing with mindfulness more than I ever have.
Make Room On Your Writing Path For Your New Self
When I created space for my new self, I also paved the way for this journey to becoming a writer. I reorganized my dedicated creative space so that it feels conducive to writing: peaceful, open, clutter free. In reorganizing my physical space, I realized how much I hold on to that I never needed. How many things that I purchased but never used. How much I took in that I never truly consumed. And all those things I did consume that were just wrong for me. Those things that I was told or I told myself I should want, but were never truly relevant to me.
We have to unpack these personal daemons and writing myths, and give them away to the past. Let them go. click to tweet
Like those personal daemons and the myths about writing and making a living as a writer many of us have swallowed when we were younger and at our most vulnerable. They have made a home in the very space in us where confidence, discipline, compassion and patience–the bare necessities of a good and meaningful writing life–should flourish, but instead, suffocate.
While we develop our writer’s process, our fears of commitment or routine may try to sabotage. While we build our writer’s room, our issues with boundaries or solitude might interfere with our progress. While trying to find and strengthen our writing voice, our confidence may be shaken or broken.
We have to unpack these personal daemons and writing myths, and give them away to the past. Let them go. To become a good to great Writer with a capital “W”, not just “someone who writes” we must recalibrate how we exist in the world and how we see ourselves.
Throughout our lives, we’ve been told too many wrong, soul-killing things about writing, and false, self-destructive and development arresting things about ourselves. So, we must do the hard inner work to find our personal truths while doing all the hard and practical, revelatory and wondrous work of becoming a good to great, and genuine, writer.
To become a writer we must do so with all parts of ourselves. We must mine confidence, patience, hope, self-compassion, humility, and discipline to become the writer we are meant to become. These traits are not always strong all the time and certainly not at the same time, but they all do arise from the same place, the soul, where all revolutions begin.
The soul is where a writer begins, so doesn’t it only make sense that a healthy soul is the best foundation and ally on the journey to becoming a good to great Writer with a capital “W”. Viva la revolucion!…minus the bloodshed.