Swimming without the aid of should-wings.
I found it. Words to express what my heart is feeling.
Thank you, Heather Sellers, for writing Chapter after Chapter: Discover the dedication & focus you need to write the book of your dreams. While dusting off the shelves of the bookcases in my writing room, I rediscovered this classic book. Due to the recent snowstorm that closed down my hometown, moments of much-needed leisure have unfolded. Funny word, isn’t it? Defined as “unhurried ease,” leisure seems a prized commodity in our modern-day society. As I wrote in my recent blog, “Paper can be erased” (see January 19), I have been wrestling with some deep issues concerning the calling of writing. Heather Sellers nailed my emotions. She spends several pages writing about the layers of “shoulds” that haunt writers.
First, she states, “Shoulds bind and strangle your work, they limit it, and they make your writing hours much more difficult and anxiety ridden than they need to be. Worse, they infect the writing itself-your choice of topic becomes a should, your tone becomes driven by a should, the structure of a book is informed by a should. What’s a should? A ‘reason’ your ego uses in order to try to whip you into shape, writer-shape. But they never work. The ego never has good ideas for writers. Shoulds almost always send writers down the wrong path. The ego is scared of losing its job. It has to exist. Writing, however, is driven by the subconscious mind, a part of self the ego has no control over. That freaks it out. Writers steer by wonder and desire. This is the opposite of should.”
Here’s the most important thing she has to say:
“A should is like water wings, a false sense of security.
You are floaty with a should, puffed up, inflated.
You won’t sink. But, you won’t swim, either.
With a handy should, you’ve got your little
mission statement, you’re a fine little company,
you have a raison d’etre.
With an open I-want-to-find-out attitude
in place of a should, you have the freedom that
accompanies uncertainty. You are working hard,
moving forward, swimming without the aid of should-wings.
No, you can’t see the shore, you can’t lay eyes on exactly
where you are going, where you will end up.
You are in the book.
No, outside of it, driving it.
You have to be in that deep in order to write,
you truly do.”
Thank you, Heather Sellers, for helping me take off my should-wings. For assuring me that I don’t have to know where I am going. That I am currently “in the book—in my life—no, outside of it, driving it.” And, that in order to write the book or live my life, I have to be “in deep.” My nature has been driven by shoulds and should nots for so very long, that it feels odd to shed them.
It is so scary to take off the water wings. The should-wings.
They act as the safety factor. If I take them off…I might sink. I might drown.
But, if I don’t try, I will never know if I can swim without them.
I will never know how far I can go. I will never find out what is on the other side.
Are You Wearing Should-Wings?
Life is all about imperfection. Figuring things out.
One moment we sink, the next we find ourselves swimming.
We were built for taking risks. For stretching our capacities to see how big they can grow.
Let’s take off the should-wings, shed the fear, and face the uncertainties. After all, unless we swim without the aid of should-wings, we will never leave the shore and experience the exhilaration that awaits!