keeping the promises we make to ourselves

good morning this morning. I have the candles lit in the dark inside office space, because I’m up later than I wanted to be and I miss the nighttime writing. How to shift myself back to those early morning hours while also having to be up past 9pm several nights of the week for workshops? Next week is a break week — no workshops while I finish preparing for the spring session — so I could sleep earlier and get up earlier, too. Let’s try it.

~~ ~~ ~~

Look out: freewrite is about to ensue. Where can I go with this in twenty minutes? What I miss are the early morning brainstorm writings, when you don’t know what you’re doing there and wonder what possible difference it could make to anyone for you to be making this effort — but you’re making it anyway. Last night I talked with my sweetheart about integrity — I recently read about a definition of integrity which referenced the fact that it grew out of words that mean ‘wholeness.’ She had heard someone define integrity as meaning keeping the promises that we make to ourselves.

If that’s the case, then I’ve been out of my integrity for a long time — or have I? It’s easy to be hard on myself, to think, ‘you said you wanted to be a writer, but look at you doing nothing to actually further your writing career.’ It’s hard to look at twenty years of daily writing practice as being of service to a career — it’s more like an apprenticeship. I just need a guild I can join, constant mentors, someone to say, yes, you’ve done the requisite groundwork, study, practice — now you can come into the castle and have something to eat. What am I talking about here? I am talking about how difficult it can be to feel ourselves as writers. Most of us can’t just write — we have to do other work, too. We often can’t devote all the time to writing that we want to. We believe that if we had all day, every day, we would write all the time and get all our books done. We think that we just have to keep the fingers moving on the keyboard. We think that everyone else has it better than us. We watch as friends who have to work two jobs and are running small organizations and have great social lives and a sweet lover also manage to publish books and we beat ourselves about our inside head and shoulders because somehow we are not as good as they are. And we keep returning to our pages, and we wonder what the point is, what difference it will make if we even keep showing up for the work.

The difference is that we live into our integrity. We allow ourselves to be in our integrity — we keep the promises we made to ourselves: I will follow the thread of this idea, or, I will write every day because I feel more whole when I do so, or, that six-year-old in me is still waiting to be a published author and she needs for me to do this work in order for us to get there, or, my community needs to see these voices on the page or stage or at the mic. Very often, showing up for our writing means showing up for the promises we made to ourselves. Only secondly is it keeping the promises/intentions we made to or in the presence of others — although accountability to someone else is  often what gets us out of bed (or away from the tv or email or other important tasks) and over to the notebook or keyboard. At least, that’s what’s been true for me, especially when it comes to a writing project that’s not simply daily journal practice. The daily writing has become a habit for me, has become a part of my living, the only consistent spiritual and healing practice I have. It’s the other part — the blogging, the working on the novel and the other books — that I need accountability around, need someone (or several someones!) checking in with me and asking, “How’s the book? What’s happening with that chapter? How are your pages?” I am grateful when I’m in my integrity around my priorities, when writing can show up all the way at the top of my list, and grateful for writing community that helps me keep it there.

~~ ~~ ~~

What about a short write for today? What are the promises that you, or your character, have made to yourself? What does it look like to keep those, to live as though those promises are as important as the ones you make to others? Give yourself at least ten minutes with this prompts — and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you for your words today.

Comments are closed.