I’m writing from a coffee shop today where I’m hanging out with my daughter. We’ve had a rough week, and Shira is getting her thoughts out on the page. I’ve raised her like this, sitting in the window seat of some coffee house, me with a notebook, her with a sketchpad. I’ve never pushed writing practice on her, but now see the benefit of modeling it. Something similar happened when I began Continuous Practice.
The daily pictures of my notebook in the Facebook feed encouraged hundreds of others to join in.
As many of you know, for the New Year I’ve committed to 100 days of meditation. I’ve long struggled with creating a regular meditation practice and thought 100 days would help form a habit. Most days I come to my meditation practice with a sense of relief, setting aside my striving and endless to-list, giving my mind a rest. But I still fight it, often procrastinating until late at night. Despite everything I know about forming habits (see my previous posts on habit it here), I resist. I will continue to sit — because I love it and because it is an ancient practice — but I realize that writing practice will always be my deepest and truest practice. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given seventeen years of study with Natalie Goldberg, plus all the years teaching, but it took the juxtaposition of writing and meditation through Continuous Practice to bring it to consciousness.
Because it was transformative, I want to shared some of what I learned from 365 days of continuous writing practice. I don’t fully understand it all yet, but here are a few thoughts on the process.
Most mornings when I sit down to write, I don’t try to accomplish ANYTHING. I don’t try to work out problems or process my life — this is not journaling — and I’m certainly not trying to compose. Writing with no topic, I simply show up and meet the mind. When you’re at the page with pen, there is nowhere else to go. I write whatever comes to mind, often the 10,000 things on my to-do list. But I don’t let it turn into a planning session of what needs to get done. I simply see that my mind is full of those 10,000 things. Just like meditation, you notice the thoughts without attaching to them.
Anyone who has studied writing practice with Natalie or has used her books to practice knows that moment when you disappear, when you’re no longer pushing the words, when they’re coming from somewhere else. Something shows up that you weren’t aware of perhaps only marginally. Or maybe some simple truth appears. “I am tired” came up often last year. Day after day, I caught myself trying to ignore that truth.
Through Continuous Practice, facing my physical condition day after day, I was finally able stop pushing myself. Many days I was so fatigued, I couldn’t raise a pen to the page. But my work didn’t come to a halt. Most days I was able to get a little something done through kindness. I’d prop up the pillows and try working from bed. Or make miso soup and get something done at the dining room table while waiting for the water to boil. I showed up for my blog once a week, and made revisions to 100 pages of my manuscript. I learned to trust myself.
Continuous practice continues to be open to all forms of practice — writing practice, meditation, yoga, drawing, photography, dance, etc. Artists in all media are welcome. But I’m considering something different for the future, maybe 100 days or even 365 days of writing practice together. I want everyone to know the power of that commitment.
In the meantime, we’ll be using writing practice as our mode of transportation on The Heroine’s Journey. Look for details in your inbox tomorrow.
Who’s ready to face the truth of your life, to stand up and claim what’s calling?