“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up, for that is just the place and time when the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”
General George Patton
In every creative project that I’ve ever worked on, there has come a time when I felt like giving up. Sometimes the feeling was prompted by fear that I’d over-reached myself and didn’t know what I was doing. Sometimes I just felt burned out and tired of working on whatever it was I was working on. And sometimes, my work had just run away from me and begun to morph into something that was confusing to me and not at all what I started out to do. Does any of this sound familiar?
So often, when we begin a writing project, we start out in one place with one idea in our head — and then, as it begins to take shape and reveal itself, we find that a very different concept is emerging. When this happens, we can either try to wrench what we’re doing back into the original pattern that we started with, or we can let the work take us where it wants to go, which is often an entirely different path.
Choosing to travel that different path takes courage and stamina. Often we have no idea where it leads — what the destination will be, where we will finally end up. This can be very stressful or it can be totally liberating, depending on your frame of mind. I can honestly say that I’ve traveled both of these paths.
Generally, I’ve found that trying to rein my work in has proven to be a mistake: It ends of feeling smaller than it should have been because I didn’t give it room to grow. When I’ve given in to the impulse to let my work take me where it wants to go, it usually rewards me by becoming bigger and more exciting than whatever I originally planned.
But getting to that point is far more creatively taxing than taking the safer route.
How about you? Which path has proven most rewarding in your writing?