How Blind Trust Can Make You a More Unique Writer
Do you ever stop and think about how many strangers you blindly trust every single day? How many anonymous beings work behind the scenes of your life, doggedly and kindly showing up so you can get it all done?
Over the winter holidays I began to consider—while waiting in line at the airport for a stranger to weigh my bag and make sure it reached my destination, while sitting at the bar expecting that another stranger behind the steamed up swivel doors would prepare my breakfast the way I requested and not spit on my eggs—just how much incredible people showing up actually contributed to my wellbeing.
And, of course this blind trust extends to also trusting strangers with my life.
I trust that the women and men de-icing the plane’s wings will do it correctly and not screw up because they’re half-asleep (it is after all six in the morning!) That they’ll remove every bit of the ice and snow so that the plane will take off and not crash. That the pilot is stable so we won’t die horribly while we’re suspended 35,000 feet in the air.
While travelling, I trust that all the strangers who I don’t ever meet or who I only meet in passing will give their all because I know this needs to happen for me to receive my belongings, eat nourishing foods, and reach my destination in one piece.
So, if I so easily trust people I don’t know, why then is it so difficult for me to trust myself when it comes to my own writing?
Recently I spoke to a writer friend about how the narrative for a new book of mine had taken an unexpected turn. I’m sure I sounded slightly panicked when I told him that the characters of my latest creative non-fiction piece had hijacked MY story. Instead of going along with whatever my muse was dishing out, I felt anxious about having no control.
Obviously, as a writer it’s important to navigate, yet the writing that comes when we start a new work doesn’t always make sense to us. Trusting where you’re headed at the start can make or break you as a writer. If you don’t allow time for creative exploration when you first begin a new piece, then you may not get to what you really need to write.
It takes time to arrive at the core of who you are and what you wish to express, and this is what will eventually make you stand out. Of course, this process goes for just about anything you do that's creative, not only writing.
Let’s just say you’re a passenger on a plane. You wouldn’t burst into the cockpit and tell the pilot how to fly the plane, right? You would TRUST that she knows where she’s going and that she’ll get you there safely. Well, the same is true for writing.
Using this analogy, let’s just pretend that your written work is a plane flying of it’s own accord and completely in control of where it wants to take you. The pilot of your writing project has gone to flight school and passed with flying colours! The airplane’s in good working order and experts like engineers and mechanics have inspected the aircraft to make sure of it.
With that in mind why not just sit back and enjoy the ride of your writing process, trusting that the muse, imagination, creative mystery, magic, or whatever you wish to call it is right there beside you, guiding you where you need to go?
In many ways the creative process is a kindly stranger there to show you the way. Much like all of the imperfect strangers we trust to take us places, help us with our luggage, get us to our destination and so on when we're travelling, when we trust completely in the writing process we’ll eventually arrive at exactly where we need to be. Yes, it may take longer than we want it to, yet if we learn not to fear the process but rather to embrace it, then we'll go far and our work will soar as a result.
10 WAYS TO TRUST THE WRITING PROCESS AND GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY
1. At the start of any writing piece, play as much as you can with words, language, thoughts and ideas before you get serious about what you’re writing.
2. Pretend that a team of experts are behind the scenes managing your work and that all you have to do is show up and let the creative process take its course.
3. Don’t re-read what you’ve written too much as it will make you fret and worry.
4. It’s all right to read what you wrote the day before, yet don’t judge yourself for not writing like Hemingway or Atwood right out of the gate as it will impact the writing you’re about to do that day.
5. If it seems like you’re writing a strange book that nobody will read, keep going and celebrate that strangeness.
6. Early on you don’t need to ask questions like, who would ever read this? So DON’T ask them because it will hurt you.
7. Cut yourself some slack at the beginning when you notice your confidence waning. Remember that everyone has good writing days and bad writing days, no matter how skilled a writer you are.
8. Learn to listen to that voice inside you that says you’re doing well and to keep going.
9. Acknowledge and then politely ignore that voice telling you that you’re wasting your time.
10. Dive in and enjoy being in the moment of creating because the journey is as important as the destination!