If you want to keep me awake at night, ask me about my writing process. (I haven’t ever figured it out.) So I took notice when my friend Christine Mason Miller dropped by for no good reason during the last, mad deadline for her new book, Desire to Inspire. (Win a copy here.) Turns out she doesn’t have a writing process either. Hers is the process of no process. (Sounds Zen.) She likens it to surfing. (I haven’t ever figured surfing out either.) Read more of her guest post, and if Desire to Inspire inspires you to desire, leave a comment on this post by the end of the day Thursday, Dec. 8 and you could be swimming in joy (without getting wet).
Before the ink began to dry on my contract with North Light Books for the publication of my next book, I made a decision. I declared that, no matter what, my work on the book was never going to take place in a space of stress, anxiety, worry, or fear. This book was going to be created from joy, and in order for that joy to flourish unfettered, I was going to have to trust – Trust with a capital T.
With five major deadlines, nineteen contributors, more than one hundred images, and ten chapters, there were loads of opportunities to lose my cool. Not to mention the usual creative hurdles that have the potential to throw the best laid plans into a rapid tailspin such as writer’s block, procrastination, or, in my case, an eight-week old puppy who joined our family soon after the book contract was finalized. I had my work cut out for me, not only as the author of the book, but as a self-proclaimed devotee of Trust in the Process and Commitment to Joy. Had I faltered on the latter, the book could certainly still be written, but then the experience of writing it and pulling together the stories of its nineteen extraordinary contributors would have been less akin to riding the perfect wave and more like being pummeled by the surf.
As a surfer, I understand that occasional pummeling is part of the experience, but it is those gleeful moments of catching a wave that I’m always striving for. Considering how few and far between my surfing experiences happen these days, I expect to be tossed and turned as a result of wipeouts more often than not. But as an entrepreneur and wrangler of inspiring souls, I’m a pro, so when the book contract was finalized, I decided there was no reason why I couldn’t keep this project away from the usual frustrations. I caught the wave when I secured the contract, now all I needed to do was put into practice everything I’ve learned over the past sixteen years as a professional artist and advocate of inspiration and ride that wave home. The promise I made to myself to Trust wasn’t a blind leap of faith that rested on a hopeful wish, it was an acknowledgement that I knew what I was doing – that there was no need to do anything but Trust. I could scrutinize, strategize, and organize all I wanted, but at the end of the day this project was going to go its own way. My job was to show up, do my work, and then let the book lead.
A week or so before my final deadline, I spent afternoon with Karen Maezen Miller. It felt slightly indulgent at the time, maybe even a little bit careless. I had a deadline – something I take very seriously – and here I was taking a handful of precious “work” hours to visit a friend. Who did I think I was? But deep down, I knew this was part of the process. This was not time being taken away from the book, this was time spent in support of the book; this was time spent in Joy, this was time taken with Trust. And it has since become a wonderfully sweet memory of The Time When I Was Writing My Book, because it was an afternoon I consciously chose to spend in the company of my friend rather than my manuscript, even with the deadline looming.
It is hard work catching a wave – it involves paddling like crazy and then popping up to two feet in one swift motion with nothing but upper body strength. Feet must grip the well-waxed surface and there are often other surfers that I have to avoid swooshing into. But once I’ve got my footing, my work is to maintain my balance and, most important, ride that wave with glee. It is an experience that is played out in three steps – show up with my surfboard and get in the water, paddle as hard as I can when the wave comes my way, and then, if I make it up, trust that the wave will hold me, and let it carry me in. This is all we can do in any endeavor – show up, do our best work, and Trust. After that, all it needs to be is fun.
Leave a comment, as many as you like, by Thursday, Dec. 8 and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of this book. Perfect for giving (or keeping!)
Christine Mason Miller is a Santa Monica-based artist, writer, and explorer. Her next book – Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World – is now available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere. Follow her on www.christinemasonmiller.com.