People come to me with big dreams and big books. I believe big dreams are naturally occurring phenomena that coincide with being connected to your higher self.
You have visions of spreading your book to hundreds, thousands, millions of people, getting interviews with people you admire, speaking to large audiences, creating movies, TV shows and viral Youtube channels. These dreams are deep truths, because your soul self plays on a big stage and sends you visions and messages about what’s possible.
The challenge is to stay in your soul self, or your authentic self, and not your ego. What your soul sees as an exciting challenge, your ego sees as a frightening and even exhausting creative risk.
Right when those dreams start to take off, your ego starts to ask, “How do I know this will lead to that?” “And when exactly? I need dates and times.” “How much time and effort will this require?” “How much will it cost?” And then the ego finishes with, “I need all of these details before I even start so I can calculate whether or not it’s even worth it.”
This is why your ego never creates anything. If you’re doing something truly new and creative, it’s impossible to know before you start.
Whereas planning can be useful, the logical mind can shut down creativity. This happens in our education system, and in society at large, to the point that it can seem scary to do something perfectly natural, like open up a notebook and express yourself. The creative self needs to be nurtured, not planned.
Writing your book is a moment by moment practice of shedding the ego and becoming more familiar with the frequency of your authentic voice. Every moment builds momentum.
You know when you’re hanging out in your soul self, or authentic voice, because it feels like truth. You feel good while you’re writing and you’re not worried about perfection, because you understand that details can be sculpted and edited as you move forward. You’re not worried about the work that needs to get done because you’re enjoying yourself. It doesn’t feel like a risk anymore. The truth that you’re feeling connects to a clear sense of trust. Your soul self in the present connects you to your higher vision of the future.
The more time you spend in this state of mind, the easier it gets to find your way back there. But the best framework I’ve read to evaluate whether you’re working from the soul or the ego comes from the last chapter of Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth. Tolle calls these “The Three Modalities of Awakened Doing,” because if you maintain your action in one of these 3 states, you know you’re cutting out your ego. I’ll explain them in the context of writing a book.
This applies to any of the dirty work you have to do in order to achieve your dream. Often people hold down a day job while writing a book, because it helps with discipline, stability, not to mention a steady mood. This might not be the ideal way you want to spend your time but if you accept that it’s a part of your journey, it contributes far more to your creativity. I often reflect that my job as a retail manager in my 20s contributed to my momentum as a writer because it taught me more stamina and determination than any other job.
I also go into acceptance mode whenever my inner critic is especially hard on me. I accept that it’s a state I’m in, I don’t struggle against it, and try to move through it as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Marinate in this state as much as possible, because as long as you’re enjoying your writing practice, you’ll crave more, and that’s how you ultimately grow to reach your goals. We all come to the page with a certain extent of talent, but the 10K hours are what successful authors have in common.
You know you’re falling out of enjoyment when you’re worrying about the future. That thought creeps back, “Will this ultimately be worth it?” If you want it to be worth your time, make it worth it at every individual moment. Put love and caring into the hours you invest in your book. Readers feel that, and you audience grows.
Tolle describes enthusiasm as the state where you get those big soul visions for the future and you’re charged with energy to bring them into the world. He sites the Greek etymology en theos, which means in God. I love this state! (Obviously.) But have noticed it can be tricky for the ego. As long as you maintain the enthusiasm you make wonderful progress, however if you get too lost in the future, rather than the present, you can fall into worry, burn out or obsession, which are all ego states. Then it’s important to return to a very simple moment by moment practice of pure enjoyment.
Working from our soul self and exploring our authentic voice brings about a better world. When we’re writing from that state we read and contribute to people around us on the creative path. This expands the economy in our genre, and in the publishing industry in general. In a joyful writing practice, our vision of the creative arc expands. We reach out to those a step behind us, we collaborate with those at approximately our same place, and support the leaders who are a step ahead.
If you have trouble accessing those big dreams, don’t think of it as a problem. It’s just evidence that there might be limiting beliefs. Move toward these same states of acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm, and you’ll start to notice synchronicities on their way, that gently move the ego aside. Remember, it’s a practice, not a magic trick.