Thursday, March 31, 2011

Step Four: Rewarding Yourself (or how it works for me)

This is the forth post in a series leading up to TPR's one year anniversary on April 12th. It is time for us examine our habits and recommit to the practice room premise (it was also time for me to spell it out)! Find the other steps here, here, and here.

Make writing itself the reward.

I did Julia Cameron's book The Artist Way five years ago. Back when I just returned to writing after having my second child. I had got through grad school with one baby on my hip, but it was painful. I planned on giving up the writing when the second came around. Just for a little while. And then graduated very pregnant, gave birth a month later and did not pick up a pen again until the new one was three. Very thought through. It seemed like a good age. And when my planned return to writing came around, I did manage to find a little bit of time to sit down and do it. But the writing did not come as planned. I discovered it is not like riding your bike. There is too much baggage. I would pick up my pen and get tired. Excruciatingly so. Everything in my being screaming at me to stop. I took a lot of naps.

In the meantime I had discovered mindfulness. My new baby daughter required it of me. She was an explosive, sensitive infant and didn't comfort as my son had. For both our sakes I needed to learn how to breathe. And I did. I meditated her to sleep at night. I did yoga for me. I learned to breathe for her when she couldn't.

She is a changed kid. I can not take credit for it. But, thanks to mindfulness, I did no harm.

Writing was another sensitive and reactive baby. I needed to find mindfulness to cut it off at the pass before I made it to some kind of monster. Enter The Artists Way. You can say a lot of things about that book and I won't, but her morning pages are brilliant. Her program requires three handwritten pages a day. There is no goal to this writing. No good or bad day. No need to read them. No need to believe what they tell you. Just do it. The writing doesn't matter as much as the practice itself does. Writers write. I write. I wrote every crappy thought that crossed my mind. I didn't like them or hate them I just put them behind me. The words began to be something I craved instead of something that put me to sleep. It became another form of meditation. And in itself a comfort. I still write my morning pages everyday. But the pages have changed. I can not take credit for it.

There are a lot of critiques of writing as therapy. I don't totally get them. Where are the critiques of biking as therapy or yoga or breathing, because as far as I can tell all things that get you to the place where you no longer matter are therapy. The things that bring us to that flow state are therapy. That is where we find connection to something greater then ourselves.

I am writing this blog post as I write my pages. I do them on the computer now. At 750 Words. That address in the ether feels unhindered by expectations. I can explore my thoughts on my new manuscript, write a draft for a blog post, write copy of class descriptions and circle round my fears and insecurities, circumventing them until I am writing more and more and more.  I copy and past what I want to save, I leave behind those things I don't. I am not a good writer, nor am I a bad writer. I write.

How do you reward yourself?

Next Thursday: Habits are behavioral.