Friday, January 18, 2013

when you come to a standstill

I have felt paralyzed this week.


:: partly or wholly incapable of movement
:: rendered unable to think or act normally
:: brought to a standstill due to disruption or chaos

After taking to the platform on Sunday morning I was wiped out.  This was no surprise.  

Speaking is different from writing.

I give a lot to my writing - and writing gives much to me.

I give a lot to my speaking - and speaking takes much from me.
It's been a great surprise how much i actually enjoy preparing material and standing before people to speak it aloud.  i never would have guessed that my love of writing could so easily translate over into speaking.  but...

it.  is.  exhausting.

there is something about looking your audience in the eyes as your words unfold that is completely different than carefully packaging the lines together and hitting 'publish'.

i love people.  i love seeing them in person.  i feel tremendous pressure to connect with every one of them when they gather together in front of me.  that is a heavy weight to bear and so when it is all said and done i take my weary frame and curl up in a ball on the bed where i proceed to sleep for hours...and so i did on sunday afternoon.  i slept.

i feel like i have been sleepwalking ever since.

these past few days i have realized that there is a dilemma writers face when they engage an audience.  

in the very beginning my only audience was the furiously scratched out pages of my journals that i kept under lock and key.  in school my teachers, and occasionally my classmates, were privy to some of the lines i was composing.  when i began blogging nearly five years ago i offered my words up to a small audience.  over the years that audience has grown.  facebook connected me to many more sets of eyes and i began the maiden voyage of being read by strangers.  over the past year i have allowed a microphone to be strapped to my face so that entirely new groups of people can hear my words fresh and real.  and now twitter...the potential magnitude of that audience has me dumbfounded.

through all of these changes i have continued to write.  words flow from my mind and my heart to my fingers today just as they did when i began 30+ years ago.  the difference is that today i now have a keen awareness that someone {besides me and my 9th grade English teacher} will actually read or hear what i have to say.

as a writer i want to engage an audience.  of course i do.  i love the relationship with my readers and the way that words connect us with one another.

but there is a challenge that comes with audiences...especially as they grow.  if you're not careful you fall into the trap of believing you must work equally as hard on expanding your audience as you do on crafting your words.  i stepped right into that trap this week and today i finally realized that the only way to be free was to write myself out of it.

thanks for letting me work it out here.

i recently stumbled upon jeff goins.  i am a stranger who reads what he has to say...and here are some of his words about the tension between creativity and congratulations that have gotten me thinking this morning...

writers everywhere are rediscovering their first love: writing.

not tweets

or publishing contracts
or blog comments.

just writing.

real writers don't write for recognition.

they do it because they cannot not write.  

i cannot not write.  

the paralysis i experienced this week was due to a particular disruption or chaos.  it did render me incapable of thinking and acting normally.  

this week i stopped writing.  
i shifted my energy from reading and thinking and wondering to teaching myself to tweet, researching ways to maximize social media, obsessing over the 'look' and 'feel' of my blog.  these things are not bad in and of themselves but when they consume me to the point of leaving no room for actual writing...
i am paralyzed.
i can't breathe.
i start sleepwalking.
i come to a standstill.

and the only way to get moving to get writing...

if you have come to a standstill this week i hope you will remember what it is that breathes life into you and then...

get to it.