When I was pregnant with my first child I was enamored of the idea of using a midwife. I hired a seasoned professional named Lorna. But my son was breech and arrived via a scheduled C-section, so Lorna was replaced by an anesthesiologist, a surgeon, and a floating sea of faceless, masked nurses. I was disappointed that our preparations had been for nothing. Until I awoke one morning, groggy from morphine, to hear her arguing in the hallway with the pediatrician. She was refusing to let him give my son a shot that we hadn't discussed.
She was my fiercest advocate when I needed her to be.
Lorna was there for the birth of my second son as well. When I went into labor, her advice was to have a glass of wine and take a hot shower. But when I told her how fast the contractions were coming, her voice changed.
"Get to the hospital now," she said, "I'll see you in 20 minutes." Again our birth plan was discarded when my baby was nearly delivered in the hospital elevator.
Lorna was there, and managed to both hold me and catch my son.
I experience echoes of those moments every week as I prepare to write my blog. The creative process can be painful, exhilarating, rewarding; it can feel beyond my abilities and like the most natural thing in the world. And while birthing another human being may be the ultimate physical expression of creativity, all of us-- man or woman--have labored with bringing truth, beauty, compassion, and understanding to life.
We can all use someone to help us through the process. Let me be your "Lorna" and share with you some things to expect when you're blogging:
You hope it will come early.
Each week I feel certain that the ideas I feel rumbling inside will jump onto the page fully formed, ahead of schedule. Each week I'm reminded that I can't rush a story. It will unfold in it's own time and not a minute before.
You're surrounded by a mess.
In the 1984 movie "Romancing the Stone," Kathleen Turner plays a romance novelist. In one of my favorite scenes, she has just finished her book. She's so swept up in her ending that she's sobbing and fumbling through her apartment in search of a tissue. All the Kleenex boxes are empty, the toilet paper is gone; there's not even any paper towel. She's a mess, the house is a mess, but her book is done. Creativity usually requires chaos. Let yourself be messy.
You feel the pressure building.
Ideas are funny things. What begins as a gentle seed can quickly sprout and take over, pushing it's way into every thought and choking out other interests. As much as I try to enjoy the process, I often reach a point with a blog where I want to scream "Just get this out of me!" Becoming snappish or ornery is a sure sign that your blog wants to be out in the world.
You wonder 'What was I thinking? Why am I doing this?'
There was a point in my labor with my second child when I yelled at Lorna, "I can't do this!" She calmly said, "You are doing it." The secret in these moments is to turn off your thinking. You're writing because something called you to write. Get out of the way and know that by the time you're able to question yourself, it's too late. The idea already has you, not the other way around.
So how do you get through it? Remember these tips:
Stay present and breathe.
Inspiration is found in the present. To be more precise, everything exists in, and only in, the present. Your breath is the link to the present moment. So take a moment, relax, and allow the words to come. Trust that they will.
Remember that you are not creating this on your own.
You are not the owner of your ideas. You are merely the channel. You create in partnership with Grace. Grace is your muse and your midwife. Grace is your ever-present writing partner and will advocate for the expression of your soul. Grace is the spirit that is there to hold you, to catch your brilliance, and to lift it up for all to see.
You are delivering a living thing.
Your writing has the potential to be bigger than you, to go places you've never gone, to meet people you will never personally meet. Your only job is to allow it to live. There will be a moment when you can hold your words in your hand and feel a deep contentment. The pain will be forgotten. Before you know it, you'll be ready to do it all again.
That's when you'll know you're a writer.
Tammy Letherer is a writing coach who loves to help others find their voice, whether in a blog or in a book. She is the author of one novel, Hello Loved Ones, and a memoir, Real Time Wreck: A Crash Course in Betrayal and Divorce, for which she is seeking agent representation. Contact her if you have a story that needs to be shared. Follow her on Facebook and LinkedIn.