Monday, July 17, 2017

On Getting Ahead of Myself (& Downward Dog) by Joy McCullough



When I was still acting, I loved the rehearsal process. Everything about it, from first read-throughs all the way through tech. What I did NOT love was the performances. It wasn’t a stage fright thing. I just loved the process, and not so much the product.

It was one of the reasons I quit acting—there really weren’t any gigs where you got to keep rehearsing indefinitely.

Writing novels, I’ve been working through the process v. product thing. Because there’s definitely something extremely product-oriented about writing a novel. And even more so if it’s going to be published. I mean, it will be a literal product. On bookstore shelves. People will hold my book in a way they never held my performances.

But focusing on the product makes it really easy to get ahead of myself. And there’s so much to be learned and gained from where I’m at right now. The moment I got my book deal, publishing friends started asking me about my plans for swag, or my plans for a launch party, or what I wanted the cover to look like.

But for the first time ever in my publishing journey, I wanted to be where I was without leaping on to the next thing. (Not that I’m not excited about those things—I am. Mostly. But what if I have a launch party and no one comes???)

Maybe it comes from my current spot on the publishing journey being so long-fought and hard-won. Maybe it’s all the yoga I do, and my teacher’s insistence that it’s not about making the perfect yoga shape, but about your intention and honoring yourself where you’re at. (“My teacher” sounds like I go to a swanky studio, but if you’ve ever been curious about yoga, might I introduce you to Yoga with Adriene?)

If you’re at an earlier stage of the journey, it might seem easy for me to appreciate where I’m at. Part of my overdrive of the last few years was always headed exactly here—getting the next book ready to query, so I could get the agent, and get on sub, and get the book deal. But any published (or to-be-published) author will attest that the ways to get ahead of oneself only multiply with each step along the way.

I don’t have magical wisdom on how to appreciate where you’re at, how to let go of making the perfect shape. Here’s what I do know: 99 times out of a hundred, the stuff I get ahead of myself about is not the actual writing. The writing is the process, the intention, the downward dog that’s maybe totally wonky and I’ve been doing it for a few years and my heels still don’t touch the floor, but I breathe through it and honor myself for showing up.

So as I sit down to write today, I’m going to try to breathe through that moment too. I invite you to do the same.


Do you get ahead of yourself in your writing/publishing journey? What helps ground you in the moment?



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