Get thee behind me, Ego!


A very dear friend read my post about having a beginning, middle and end when starting a piece, and said that was great and all, but what blocks her from getting started is fear. She is brimming with ideas (good ones from what she’s shared with me), but she says when she goes to get started she gets paralyzed by fear. I have a feeling this is quite common. What we’re afraid of might look a little different, but at its root I sense it is probably ego-based for most of us.

Yeah, so that’s not really very helpful is it?

When I was in art classes in college, we had to do gesture drawings to warm up. We would have to draw the model quickly, without looking down at our paper. The idea was to warm up the hand and the mind and  get out of that frozen, fear place.  Incidentally, I think the more we draw, write, cook, etc. the quicker our start time becomes. I think it is when time has lapsed between sessions, that we freeze up a bit. But the more we do it, the more it becomes second nature and confidence builds.

So what does gesture drawing look like for writers?

Ugh, this is going to sound trite – it looks like sitting down and writing (for me anyway). Maybe you clear your space before or workout or get a pot brewing – but you have to write out the sludge to get to the good stuff. (If anyone has other thoughts about this – please share!) For me, I have to sit down and start climbing the mountain one sentence at a time. Sometimes I even write, “This is really crappy and lame but I am writing because I know if I keep writing I will get there…” A body in motion stays in motion and all that.

I keep thinking, “Ooh, tell them to do a mandala first or set an intention for your writing…” but that feels like b.s.  You can do those things to calm your mind, you might deconstruct the ins and outs of your ego and the particulars of your brand of procrastination…but in the end – there is nothing like writing to remove the blocks. It’s like talking about running to get in shape versus actually running.

So tell your ego to go do something else for an hour. When I was an art therapist and people said they couldn’t possibly draw something for me – they were horrible artists – I would say, “Draw something really ugly for me. Something just hideous.” BOOM! They would draw with abandon.

Go ahead, write something really awful for me. Write some real rubbish.

…and let me know what comes of it.



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