Staying with Writing Your Book–Pulled by Love, Not Pushed by Force by Naomi Rose
Let’s welcome back Naomi Rose as she shares with us “Staying with Writing Your Book–Pulled by Love, Not Pushed by Force.” Enjoy!
There’s a book I’ve been working on that I can’t wait to get to when I wake up in the morning. Before my to-do list can take up enough space in my mind to derail me when my eyes flutter open from sleep, I remember that I love my book and want to be with it and see what it wants to call forth from me. Days when I don’t give this to myself first thing before I’ve gotten captured by the things I need to do or I think I need to do, I find there’s actually less of me to bring to my non-book-writing activities – as if this meeting is a nourishment, a grounding in my inner being before I face my attention outwards to all the things that call in the course of daily life. Then, while I’m facing outwards, the inner life gets to come along.
This has to be a secret of loving your life, to have the inner life interpenetrate and accompany the outer. On such days, I feel more vibrantly alive, happier, more full of possibility. It doesn’t even depend on whether the writing was “great” that day or not; I’ve revised many passages and sections since first writing them. It seems to depend on how present I was to myself during the time of writing.
While I don’t always manage to do the writing every day, I do make an effort to get to it at least several times a week. Not because I’ve been told that discipline requires this (though I have); not because I’ve read of writers who wake at 5 am to fulfill their daily quota of words (though I have); not even because I want to amass a certain page count, and produce a finished work (though I do intend to complete it). But because I love the book I am working on. I am pulled to it by love.
This is not how it always was. There were two years before now when I was telling myself I probably “should” update an earlier book, and I duly made notes and so on. But it didn’t actually call to me, although my inner critic did sometimes chide me for letting that project go unmet for so long. So I was in a not-unusual position experienced by many writers: a good idea, and then a bit of flurry around the work, and then a long time of not doing much with it, attended by the kind of background guilt that doesn’t give much room for enjoyment or movement forward. It wasn’t a block, exactly, but it was what they call “resistance.”
At the time, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the writing I was resisting; it was that I wasn’t taking myself into full consideration. I hadn’t asked myself, “What do you love about this book? What do you want it to be as you write it? What do you want it to give you? What do you want to meet up with in yourself, where do you want to write it from?”
So I took it up again.
At first, my mind led the way – my school-paper mind, as if writing to fulfill an assignment. It hardly mattered that I was the one who had given the assignment; I was so used to gathering ideas together and words to explain them, from my many years of schooling, that even though I was doing a passably good job of it, I wasn’t there. My skills were there, my mind was focused, but my heart was somewhere else entirely.
I know, it’s pretty ironic, considering what I do for work and my writings about the deeper Self. It’s really ironic, considering that the revised subtitle of the book I was working on was “A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Listening to Yourself” (the previous edition had “Attending”). I wasn’t listening to myself, I was listening to my training – whether years before in school, or currently with the prevailing views of writing nonfiction. I was trying to push myself to write the book – a not-unfamiliar place to be – rather than being pulled towards it by love.
And then it happened! I began to love the book I was writing.
I had already written quite a bit – several versions of a Preface and of an Introduction, and updated versions of some of the chapters in the original book. But while it was good to generate pages, I didn’t love them. It was more like checking things off on a to-do list. I could live with it, but I didn’t look forward to it. These were not the days of waking and feeling eager to write.
I started writing out of sequence. I wrote what called to me in the moment, even if I had never considered it before. If it gave itself to me and I was interested, I followed it. And because I was interested, I took time with it, slowing down to see what was in me to say. Even if I didn’t have a clue as to where or even if that section belonged in the book, I went with it because it called to me. More like a song in the distance that I wanted to get closer to than anything like a whip.
And when it came about that I had written some passages and chapters that I loved discovering in the act of writing, and I also loved reading afterwards, then I knew that this was not just one way to go about it, but essential. Essential, as in how something deeper inside us knows what we need to be exploring, and how our heart can be in it all the way. This following of my interest, this walking towards the unknown, this love opened me to so much more of myself that each time I came away enlivened, invigorated, grateful grateful grateful.
To know that there is more inside us than we have yet brought to the surface, and that writing a book can be a vehicle for that to take place, unearthing our “hidden treasure” – and that loving what you’re doing is not only a blessing but also a sign that you’re on the right track – this gives encouragement that can see us all the way into the full flowering of not only our book but our own being.
There’s no reason why writing a book needs to be the kind of effort where you feel you have to work against your deeper nature. It can be the kind of effort where you are growing something wonderful inside you, and you stay with it because you trust it, and you love it, and you find yourself opening into understandings and capacities that weren’t even in the background, before.
Did I love every word I wrote? No. Did I ever have a writing session where I felt I had gone astray? Yes; my “Outtakes” file for this book is pretty full. (I cut and paste my deletions into an “Outtakes” file rather than simply deleting them, in case later on I find something worth retrieving. But mostly, it lets me bypass my “Oh, but I worked hard on that paragraph” clutching, and let it go for something better to come.)
But these are just moments in the larger frame of writing the book. I have never once thought to stop writing it, only to back up, look again, reframe, revise. The very process of its unfoldment (and mine with it) is interesting enough to keep me going. If I were only trying to reach the “finish line” of completion, I probably would have stopped many months ago for lack of nourishment along the way. But the process of Writing from the Deeper Self is the nourishment. Being there for it is the nourishment, and the growth hormone, and the feedback, and the confirmation.
The experience of reaching into a place inside that has never before been given a hearing, and now I’m hearing it, sensing it, bringing it up through layers of inner tectonic plates into the sunlight – “Oh, I didn’t know I knew that!” and “I feel so enlarged, having written that, as if there’s so much more to me than I realized” – causes me to feel not only grateful and satisfied but even healed, whole. I feel as if, in writing my book, I have been serving something larger through the particulars of my being.
When the Hidden Treasure within you is given a way to reach your notice, you feel it. The breath of inspiration rises up inside you, and pulls you towards the fulfillment of your heart’s desire, even if it takes unexpected routes along the way. And that’s a profound form of love, which you can open to and write into. It’s as close, as they say, as your breath.
“It is a beautiful thing to listen to yourself.
When you listen to yourself, you write your own book.”
– Sherif Baba
Copyright © 2023 by Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Naomi Rose is a Book Developer and Creative Midwife, the creator of the “Writing from the Deeper Self” approach. A visual artist and musician as well as a writer, she brings an intimate, encouraging exploration and artistry to her books so that they reach readers in their deepest heart.
With over 30 years in the publishing industry as an editor, writer, consultant, and illustrator, she brings this sensibility and expertise to her work with her clients who are writing books or shorter works. She has a passion for bringing out the innate gifts in her clients and in her readers—thus her Creative Midwife tagline, “Encouraging Your Flowering.”
The author of Starting Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Attending to What’s Inside You and MotherWealth: The Feminine Path to Money, Naomi is currently writing a new book in her “Creative Process” series: Starting (and Staying with) Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Listening to What’s Inside You.
Naomi can be reached by email at email@example.com, or through her website, https://www.naomirose.net.