Out of Thin Air
Writing is such a gift. I am reading The Artist’s Way again after almost thirty years. When I found this book around 1990, I thought, “I am not a writer, so this isn’t for me.” How funny that I now write daily, and I love it—everything about it. What I love most of all is my process. Let me share what that looks like.
Recently, a very dear friend texted me and said, “I just read your blogs. Did you really write them?” I was taken aback at first. My friend has known me since 1998 but never as a writer. I said, “Yes, of course!” and he responded, “Wow, they are so true and a few had me crying.” I really appreciated the feedback but chalked it up to him being kind because he knows my story. Then I realized that was not fair to me or my process; I don’t just come up with these topics out of thin air.
How do I choose topics to write about? That part is easy for me. When something either really bothers me or makes me laugh hard, or I see someone struggling with a relationship, I get inspired. I think to myself, “If I feel this way, other people might be feeling this. I should write about it!” Off I go! I pick a topic, then I sit with it and see if it really strikes a chord with me and if I have anything from my experiences I could share on the topic.
Then I ask for help. I get on my knees and pray for guidance and strength to write from my heart. I put on my Debs Den playlist (available on Spotify) and sit with the topic. I ask God, the universe, Mother Earth, and the angels to guide me in writing and stop my critical thinking. I can talk myself out of writing. Even now, a part of my subconscious is saying, “This is a stupid topic. No one is going to read about your stupid process. Stop, just stop.”
I sometimes resist writing by going through everything I could be doing instead. For me, committing to and finishing the writing no matter what is so important that I do not reread my blog posts before I send them out for a spell check, and I do not see them again until they become a newsletter or social media post. Otherwise, I would rewrite and rewrite and maybe even quit.
I do not know about you, but I can find so many distractions to pull me away from my writing. Some of these distractions might feel superimportant, but they’re not; they just outweigh my commitment to writing at times. I am at war with resistance every time I sit down to write, although I feel less resistance these days. The only explanation I have for this is that when I do something every single day, it becomes a habit. In the beginning, my brain gave me every excuse on the planet to avoid writing. With time, that resistance lessened.
My process is not something that came out of thin air. I’ve read many wonderful books and had mentors who offered great solutions and ideas that still help me today. Starting anything new—a workout program, class, or relationship—can feel awkward in the beginning, before you get into the flow. Looking back on my life, I have always enjoyed writing. I would journal and write some pretty cool stuff, but because I did not want anyone to ever find my journals, I did not keep them—which I really regret now.
In school, English was my favorite subject. I wrote a lot until seventh grade, when I became very insecure and had a teacher who played on that and made me feel worse. So I stopped writing. Later in life, when I became an actress, I read more, enjoying books such as Way of the Peaceful Warrior, The Artist’s Way, and any self-help book I could get my hands on. I started to see answers to so many questions I’d had for so long.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I love this saying because it rang true many times during my life. Teachers come in many forms. I have been very fortunate in my adulthood to have found great teachers and mentors. I have been up close and personal with some of the greatest coaches. What they all have in common is wanting to be of service. They really want to help solve the problems faced by individuals, couples, politicians, and even the world as a whole.
Writing helps me coach and be of service. Writing is my gift, a way to give back. When I was in my darkest hours, I would have loved receiving a weekly newsletter about life struggles and being introduced to resources I did not know about. But I wasn’t looking, and I wasn’t ready, so those teachers did not appear. Now I am at a point where I do not negotiate my writing time. In fact, I take it a step further, telling myself, “If I am going to fail and suck, then let’s go big!”
As creatives, we have to stop negotiating our goals and just keep going no matter what. As part of my process, I avoid time limits and don’t look at the time at all. When I started acting, people would say, “Are you giving yourself a time limit and then getting a real job if it doesn’t work out?” That felt horrible. No wonder so many people are anxious and frustrated.
So part of my process is not focusing on time. Today, I write. Simple as that. I pray and meditate about what I am going to write so that I can shut down my inner critic and say to my body, “We got this! My heart will be doing the writing, so take a nap, critic!” I do not pull all this out of thin air; it comes from years and years of practice. It comes from hard lessons learned and past experiences. It comes from a lot of thought and structure. Writing a weekly blog is great practice for writing books.
Last year, I became a published author when I wrote a chapter in Here Comes the Sun: Step Up, Shine Your Light, and Share Your Brilliance. Guess what my first thought was when I was asked to write a chapter for this book: “No! I am not ready!” I did it anyway because I do not negotiate with writing. I love writing! That same year, I also finished writing a historical fiction book called Son of a Basque. Remember, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear—not from out of thin air!