For Every Season: Thoughts on Change

A few months ago when everything outside was green, I wondered how, in such a short time, everything could possibly change. I couldn’t imagine the trees without the leaves or the flowers without their blossoms.

Now, when I look out on a street that has been washed in greys and browns, a street presided over by drawn houses and the spindly branches of leafless trees, it all feels so…familiar.

As much as summer felt like it would never leave, this almost-winter feels like it’s always been here. And not in a discouraging way, either; I love winter. No matter how much I might have said between the last one and now that I wasn’t ready for it, I am.

Because we adapt.

We get used to things.

We hate change but we seek it out as well, we look forward to what might come, to the interesting things that might happen.

Two months ago, I couldn’t imagine moving from my quiet kitchen back into the workplace. Now I find it hard to believe I spent fifteen months sitting in my kitchen writing. Oh, I’d do it again in a heartbeat! I just can’t quite conceive of having all that time.

What’s my point?

Partly that we have a wonderful capacity to get used to the way things are, even the big changes we balk at. In fact, we often seek out those changes, even when we don’t realize it, to make life more interesting.

My main point, though, has to do with my writing. I’ve been feeling stuck for some time, since the end of the summer, really. I’ve been trying to keep up with what I wanted to do – participate in the various communities of writers that I’ve found during my time online – but I’ve abandoned my freer type of writing in the process. I’ve grown hugely as a writer and I’ve met all sorts of wonderful people. I’ve learned about various new forms of writing, too.

But I worry more about what I write now.

I self-edit (and self-doubt) more.

I aim higher.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, except that I don’t want to feel pressure every time I hit [Publish]. Sometimes, when it’s an entry for a challenge, sure. But I used to throw all sorts of things out there, thoughts and inspirations and impressions. And I used the challenges as another way to get the ideas flowing. Now, I write almost exclusively for the challenges and I worry far too much that my entries won’t be good enough.

And that affects the quality of my writing. And it just doesn’t feel as fun.

When I get little nuggets of ideas, I save them, tuck them quietly away out of sight, in case they’re not quite good enough to share. In case they don’t fit with my brand.

That’s not what I want from my writing.

These are all part of my natural tendencies – tendencies to put pressure on myself, to drive myself too hard, to expect to much, to worry to much about what others will think of me. Tendencies I have lately been nourishing rather than abandoning.

It’s time to make a change.

A blogger I used to follow had disappeared for a while and when she reappeared recently, she declared that she was going to write whatever she wanted, that she wouldn’t allow her thoughts or her writing to be controlled by others’ expectations or blogging schedules or social media. That approach is inspiring!

It is how I started out.

In fact, I recently claimed that I still think that way about my own writing. But now I realize that I don’t. That carefree, experimental approach to writing got lost along the way.

My husband made a comment along the same lines today when he suggested I just write whatever came to me. That if I needed inspiration, I should open a dictionary and write a post about the first word that jumped out at me.

Actually, that’s a good idea.

Lately, I’ve found the formal posts hard to respond to. Not because they aren’t good. But because I’m trying too hard. And I don’t like that feeling.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to change things. Maybe from the outside, from your perspective, I won’t have changed much at all. Maybe it’s mostly how I approach the act of writing that will change, and how much I think about what I write.

Maybe a few months from now, when the snow is heavy and there have been more unforeseen changes in my life, I will look back on the things I was writing now and find it hard to imagine how I could have been so narrowly focused.

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7 thoughts on “For Every Season: Thoughts on Change

  1. I love that you are feeling at home in your new work role already–that’s wonderful news! About the writing dilemma, I know we have talked about this before and I definitely struggle with it too. Last year I started that other blog to do the challenges and it really worked when I had the time. Having another outlet to just post stuff that was on my mind but not really something I wanted to publish or promote because the ideas weren’t fully worked out or the topics too personal …. Since I started working again I haven’t had much time for that but when I do get the time, hope to go back to that. Maybe something for you to think about? Just start an alternative site for your more creative, raw ideas?Maybe for your “dictionary” project? Anyhow, have a great almost-winter weekend!

  2. A friend of mine who is a painter, quit his regular paying job to dedicate his time to creating and promoting his artwork as a business. He told me it failed; that when he started creating art for other people, rather than himself, he lost his creativity. Create for yourself and your work will ALWAYS be “good enough”.

    • You know, that’s a very good point. Thank you for sharing this example; you usually hear about how fulfilled people are when they do that. I knew I would feel the same and that’s exactly the reason I decided months ago not to try to write for a living. The few things I’ve written today I have posted without over-thinking and I’ve felt happier and freer 🙂

  3. I find the trick is to balance “following the juice” with clicking Publish. They don’t always mix, and I don’t always know where to find that balance. Like doing improv, I find writing is about following the impulse — emphasis on following, not leading. When it’s good, when the Muse is operating, you can’t predict where you’re going to go, and it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, you may feel it makes you “look bad” in some way, etc. — but of course, those are all judgments that you’ve internalized, which you foist onto that original impulse. Freedom to write is letting go of all of that — but freedom to write and freedom to click Publish are, in my mind, separate. The act of writing, for me, is about finding freedom. The act of publishing is about finding courage.

    • Oh, that is so perfectly put, David. Courage vs Freedom is exactly the difference. I’ve been practicing just writing whatever comes to me, without judgement. I sometimes stop myself in the midst of doubting where I’m going and it’s at those times that I find it particularly interesting to see where my muse takes me. And that feeling of freedom you get from going with it can be exhilarating. It’s also good to only think about editing it afterwards, in anticipation of hitting Publish. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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