The blank page of the text editor overwhelms me with whiteness.
I have so much to say — but will I manage to say it all? Will the words come out as I want them to? Will I get into the flow in five minutes and spend the next few hours writing effortlessly? Or is it one of those days when I have to struggle through every single sentence, asking myself whether I am even serious to call myself a writer?
I never know. But it is time to see through the struggle. It is time to ditch the ideas of curation, claps and views as the main signals of “success.” Everyone says it, but it is not until I exercise the new mindset myself that I can say I understand what it is about.
The new mindset prioritizes letting go. In my opinion — one of the fundamental skills for a writer.
This post is already the sixth of my 30-day writing + publishing challenge on Medium. This means I am already 20% into the process, which is a sign I am really doing it.
My usual quitting timeframe would be day 3 or 4. Now I already have enough consecutive days accumulated to feel a hit of dopamine each time I publish the next one. And the next one. And the next — all the way until 30.
The idea is to write a roughly 1,000-word post daily AND publish daily. It is important that I do it this way, instead of writing stuff and scheduling it for later. The point is to write every day and publish it right away — without fretting about top quality, views, curation and claps this time.
I mean — I could fret. But I am already seeing that publishing daily takes a lot of anxiety away, simply because I know that tommorow is another day. Another chance. What happens today is easily seen as a micro-step in a longer journey — which writing ultimately is.
When I devised this challenge for myself last week, my intentions for the process were the following:
- To develop a more conversational tone in my writing,
- To see how daily publishing for a full month will affect my traffic and earnings on Medium,
- To revive the pleasure of freestyle writing, without much structure and editing.
These reasons are still valid — but I now suspect that the most important lesson this experiment will teach me is the art of letting go.
Writing and meditation are two big internal pursuits I am engaged in at the moment. Although they seem like two completely different occupations, I have for a long time suspected that they have a lot in common.
Now I can see what this common ground is. Neither writing nor meditation is a process that you can fully control. In other words, to pursue any or both of them long-term, you have to refine the skill of letting go.
In both writing and meditation, I feel like I only really have control over two things. One is setting an intention, and this where my free will manifests. I can consciously to commit to doing my best to focus on my breath — or write about a particular topic. I can pre-decide on what I would like to happen.
The second — and, as far as I can see, the last — thing I can control is sitting down and doing the work. In meditation, this means practicing focus diligently until the end of the session, regardless of how much my mind is all over the place and which emotions arise. In writing, it is about doing what I am doing right now — typing down word after word after word — even if I cannot see any clear ending to this story.
All the other elements of the process? They are beyond my control. Both in writing and meditation, the only way to stay sane is to acknowledge that there are forces in play that I cannot predict of take charge of. And it will probably always be this way.
This is as much about acceptance and humility, as it is about empowering myself. On one hand, it helps to see that I am no director of this show of life. I get to decide about some things, but not others. This leads me to be humble and always aware that life may surprise me. Both in pleasant and unpleasant ways.
How is this empowering? For exactly the same reason. Life can always surprise me — and if I remain open-minded, it most likely will. This means I can hold in my awareness that tomorrow is always another day. That I will have another shot for curation on Medium tomorrow. That if you don’t clap for my story today — who knows, maybe you will a month from now.
A few days ago, I was interviewed for the local paper about the climate crisis. The article was due to come out in print yesterday. I was obviously very eager to get a copy — but I was away from town. So I kept texting my friends, asking if they could get the paper for me. Unfortunately, everyone was either out of town, too, or they were working late hours and so they couldn’t get it.
Eventually, one guy that I barely know managed to buy the paper. The article wasn’t there. Texting the journalist who interviewed me, I finally realized that I confused the titles and asked the guy to get the wrong one.
It was already late in the evening and I finally came to terms with the fact that I am probably not getting the paper with my name in it. Apparently, this was beyond my control. The circumstances aligned as they aligned — so I finally decided to let it go.
This morning, my mom was going through the news on her laptop, as she does every day. And a few minutes ago — literally while I was writing this post— she came to tell me that the paper with my interview had some trouble printing the yesterday’s issue. As a result, they didn’t manage to deliver it to everyone who ordered. To make up for this, today they published the yesterday’s issue online, for free.
It is funny to see how, sometimes, we frantically try to control the reality to obtain the object of our desires. And then, almost like a joke, the Universe delivers it to us in its own, crooked, mysterious ways. This makes me realize that maybe there is no need to control everything.
Letting go and inviting all that life has for us can sometimes be much more fruitful and fulfilling. In writing, meditation and beyond.