How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Process

I am done with the first draft of Ch. 7.

>Applause, applause.<

Thank you, thank you.

If you haven’t been following my blog until now let me fill you in. I’m Ollin and I’m a writer. I have been writing my first novel while at the same time life keeps throwing crap at me. You get to have fun reading my frustration as I get hit by the aforementioned crap and you get to share in all the important life lessons I have to learn (and sometimes re-learn) along the way. Ever so often, one of my aweso-cool blogger friends chime in with their thoughts in a guest blog. Like me, they share their ups and downs. And it is these Ups and Downs that I would like to focus on today.

The Ups are always more “up” than we imagined they would be. The Downs are always so much more “down” than they really are, until you give them some perspective–and a dash of context. But why does it always seem like your Up’s and Downs never correspond to anyone else’s? Your coming out of one of your Downs just as your good friend is coming in to theirs. Your on a high about one of your Up’s while all the rest are deep in their Down. Or you are drowning in your Down while everybody else is flying Up.

But is that so? Are we really seeing things the way they really are? Are people always out of sync with some pure and ideal universal rhythm? Or are people just growing at their own pace?

What if your Down is really an Up that’s ready to flip? What if your Up is really a Down that’s about to turn? What if your Down is an upside-down Up, and your Up is a downside-up Down?

How. Would. You. Know?

You wouldn’t. Unless you learned to trust the process.

I was stuck at Ch. 7 of my novel for the longest time. I was embarrassed to admit on this blog that I had reached a Dead End. It’s not that I didn’t know where to go next, or that I was trying to avoid writing because I did not want to keep going (which I would characterize as a Block.) The real problem is that there was something missing, some important point, that I could not grasp, or explain, or illustrate, or understand, until I understood it.

A huge shift happened. In a closed room. Something in my past had to be dealt with. I had to confront a truth about myself. I had to grow. I had to learn.

In my novel, my heroine had reached a crucial moment. In order for her to beat her foe, she had to have gained a piece of wisdom that I, as the author, had not yet gained. That’s why I had been stuck. That’s why I was at The Dead End. Before I could finish Ch. 7, I had to grow. I, as an individual, had to grow. It was painful, it was scary, it made me incredibly vulnerable. But it was something I had to do for the story.  I had to learn my hard lesson or else I would not be able to move forward.

In the moment it seemed as if my Down was really bad. It was ugly, embarrassing, depressing, hopeless even. But something told me I had to wait. I had to trust it. I had to trust the Down. It was there for a reason and after waiting long enough, in one fell swoop, my Down suddenly lifted me UP UP UP into a moment of absolute clarity.

The Dead End wall crumbled and suddenly my whole life, for a moment, made sense. Then and only then was I able to give my heroine the wisdom that she needed to beat her foe, and move forward to the next part of her journey. Then and only then, by trusting the process, was I able to finish the Chapter. Sounds intense, huh? I guess it kinda is.

There is an Eastern philosophy that goes something likes this (I will paraphrase): If you are confused then that means at one point you saw things clearly. If you see things clearly then at one point you were confused.

Confusion is essential to wisdom. Being lost is needed in order to eventually be found.

This is part of life and it is also essential to the writing process.

I used to hate having to wait. I hated Blocks and Dead Ends, I hated life getting in the way. But now I love it. I love the wait, I love the Blocks, the Dead Ends, the life getting in the way. Because I know it is all there to teach me something, to help me grow–it’s always an Up, disguised as a Down.

Something essential had to happen in Ch. 7 before I could move on, and yes I could have just moved on, but I didn’t. Maybe it’s a writer’s instinct, I don’t know. All I knew is it felt that it was going to be much better if I waited than if I moved forward. This process made me realize that there are times in life when things do feel right. There are times when your gut feeling is right on the money.

There are times when you no longer see the Ups and Downs as Ups and Downs, but as one great spiral, spinning directly towards all that was meant to be.

much love,

Ollin

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25 comments on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Process

  1. Melissa says:

    I think one of the hardest things for me to learn as a writer is patience. It seems so simple, but yet it can be so hard when I’m writing my book.

    A week ago, I went on a three day trip and when I came back, I thought I would get right back into my writing routine. Nope. That didn’t happen. Life got in the way and I had some stuff to deal with. You really do have to trust the “Downs” and know that you’ll get through it.

    I’m so glad that you got through chapter 7! Look at you go!🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Nope, patience is not easy to deal with. But writers have the be most patient people in the world if they want to succeed eventually.

      Thanks for the kind words!🙂

  2. Agatha82 says:

    “Confusion is essential to wisdom. Being lost is needed in order to eventually be found.”
    Very wise words and your post today is truly a great inspiration. It seems that when I am down, others are writing great inspirational posts. Yours is the third one I’ve read today when I wrote my blog about struggling (yet again) and so I must say THANK YOU for the wisdom that you have gained by passing this block you had. Glad you’ve gotten past it and gained some wisdom from it as well.

  3. *In order for her to beat her foe, she had to have gained a piece of wisdom that I, as the author, had not yet gained. *

    Such an inspiring notion.

    I’ve experienced this too. It’s hard to beat the wall, because we’re living our fears when we write. We’re making hell for our characters, and what scares our characters most is what scares us — because they’re a part of us. Find out what part of us they are, and we as writers have an easier time determining how to help our character through the bump.

    It’s an experience, for sure, writing. We don’t come out of it the same, if we dig deep.

    I realized through writing a recent WIP that I wanted to save my main character because I couldn’t save myself. It taught me a lot — and helped me become a tougher writer.

    Thanks for sharing this. Excellent post as always, Ollin.

    – Corra

    • Ollin says:

      “We’re making hell for our characters, and what scares our characters most is what scares us — because they’re a part of us. Find out what part of us they are, and we as writers have an easier time determining how to help our character through the bump.”

      Very true words, indeed, Corra. You hit it right on the nose with that comment. In order to understand the character, we got to dig deep to understand ourselves.

  4. Margarita says:

    Definetly had a down today, really down but maybe because I thought I was already moving forward and wasn’t stuck anymore. I realized I just got stuck again and have to move up. Stuck called and I realized I don’t wana go back to stuck again.

  5. It looks like an abyss, no doubt, but then everything turns around and the next thing you know is you’re on a high.
    I am sooo happy for your draft! And also that you figured it out for yourself well.🙂
    You rock, Ollin.

    -BrownEyed

  6. Lua says:

    First of all- a big, no- huge congratulations for chapter 7! I know that was a difficult one, hope chapter 8 will be easy on you🙂
    Ah those ups and downs…
    “What if your Down is really an Up that’s ready to flip? What if your Up is really a Down that’s about to turn? What if your Down is an upside-down Up, and your Up is a downside-up Down?”
    The best decisions I’ve ever made, I made them to come out of my ‘down times’ and the best moves I’ve made, I made them when I was down, they were the ones that carried me towards my ‘up times’… I think you have a point Ollin, our Down is really an Up that’s ready to flip🙂
    Sometimes we just have to trust that “great spiral, spinning directly towards all that was meant to be.”

  7. Mckenzie says:

    Yay! Congrats, Ollin, on finishing! *Throws confetti* Also? Awesome post. I love your blog.

    Mckenzie

    PS Unabridged Girl is no longer, but I am elsewhere. If you still want me to guest blog, I certainly will!

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks for the confetti, lol. Of course I still want you to guest blog. Where are you now? This change sounds dramatic. Wish you all the best!

  8. Beautiful Sir Ollin,
    This is so true. I keep reminding myself of this as I struggle to move out of my current career. Every road block is a lesson meant to steer me towards my correct path. I appreciate the reminder.

  9. Cities of the Mind says:

    “If you are confused then that means at one point you saw things clearly. If you see things clearly then at one point you were confused.”

    Forget Eastern, that’s wisdom for all four Cardinal Points.

    I really like the explanation of how and why you were stuck in chapter seven. It makes a lot of sense. How are we, as writers, supposed to write characters who understand things we don’t?

    Good post, and ‘grats on wrapping up seven.

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks COTM! Yeah, that was my first lesson in being respectful of my process and growth as a person in relation to my story and character’s. Sometimes waiting isn’t bad, it’s the exact opposite: it may be the very thing we need to perfect a piece!

  10. milkfever says:

    Congratulations on unravelling the challenges with chapter 7. It takes wisdom and courage to work through the block, which is often a vulnerable part of ourselves we don’t want to face.
    I remember getting stuck with a chapter, towards the end of my novel, and in the end I had to face painful memories and feelings about my divorce before I could write it honestly.
    But it is incredibly rewarding to work through it all.
    Well done, Ollin.🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Yeah, this was new for me. But it feels good to know that other authors have gone through a similar experience. That’s what part of being a writer is about I guess, taking chances and being vulnerable for the sake of your characters and your story.

      We get some free therapy out of it, too, don’t we?🙂

  11. WoW..this is an intense piece. I can’t wait to read your book, I’m even more curious what you was revealed to you about yourself and how you took the hard road to wisdom.

    Thanks for sharing this Ollin. Reminds me to introspect more, rather than brood over my short comings.

    Great post!

    • Ollin says:

      lol. It was totally intense! Probably one of the most intense experiences of my life. Yeah, sometimes our problems stem from inside of us, instead of outside. Glad you liked the post!🙂

  12. I do applaud you for your chapter 7 success.

    And I TOTALLY HATE WHEN I’M HAPPY AND ALL MY FRIENDS ARE SAD!! Because then I feel bad that I feel good when they feel bad and then we all just feel bad … downward spiral. But you’re right everything is always worse than we think it is.

    • Ollin says:

      I KNOW, RIGHT? That’s something that is hard to reckon with. I’ve struggle with it, because our ups and downs NEVER correspond. So the best thing to do for ourselves is just honor our ups, and celebrate them no matter how bad the people around us feel. After all, we deserve it. It’s better to be up when others are done than to never be up at all!

  13. […] How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Process {Who knew writer’s block was a good thing? You didn’t. Until this post.} […]

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