Often I hear from my clients that their dreams are progressing much more slowly than they’d like. Because I love to work with people on clearing out the “stuck stuff” that keeps them from deeply engaging with their creative work (or play, as I prefer to call it), clients usually come to me when they are in this space. Either they feel disconnected from their creativity, or they are judging their process for being “too slow” and therefore creating a feeling of stuckness around their process.
Our creative projects, our creative visions and dreams, have different ways of unfolding. Some of these unfold very quickly, so quickly it can feel frightening. I remember writing a short story that poured out of me so fast I felt like the top of my head was going to come off. Truly, it felt like I did not “write” this story — it had its own momentum and its own timing, and that happened to be an extremely fast “birth” from inside of me into the physical world.
I’ve experienced this type of velocity with other creative projects, but more often than not, the pace of my creative projects and dreams tends to be much slower. When the dream is large, like writing a book or creating a business, we often have a huge learning curve, even if it is something we’ve done before. The new book (or business) is a completely different entity from the old one, and the guideposts we created in the process of doing the previous thing may no longer apply. We must discover new ones.
It’s important to accept that we are not necessarily in control of the pace of a creative project. I know that can feel frustrating to hear when we have deadlines we want to meet, or if we feel we haven’t put our creative work into the world as much as we’d like, but it’s still important to honor. My friend and fellow writer and coach Terri Fedonczak (with whom I participate in Jenna Avery’s Writer’s Circle*), often said during the process of writing her forthcoming book, “I am not the timekeeper.”
I love this. It’s true — we can plan and plan, but within each creative dream lies the knowledge of its own unfolding. When we allow a dream to unfold at the pace that feels right and juicy to us — no matter how slow or fast we judge it to be – we are creating a solid foundation for that dream. We’re creating a dream that’s got legs.
If we rush our vision, or, at the other extreme, try to halt its momentum because the momentum is unsettling to us, the project can either burn itself out before it has a chance to truly take root within us, or lose its glow for us because it’s not allowed to fly as fast as it wants to.
If the process of creating your dream feels like it is moving too slow, ask yourself:
* Slow by whose standards?
* Why do I think I need to move faster? What do I believe would be gained, or lost, by moving faster? Is this true?
* Do I have enough support (inner and outer) for this project or dream?
* If I totally trusted myself and the unfolding of this dream, would I be okay with this pace?
If your project, vision or dream feels like it’s moving too fast and you’re getting scared, here are some things to remember:
* It’s essential to develop a practice of grounding and centering yourself regularly, particularly if you are highly sensitive. Your nervous system is going to be more reactive to rapid change than that of the “average” person, and you are going to need to practice radical self-care now more than ever.
* It’s important — and totally valid — to feel safe. At the same time, we can feel unsafe when in fact we truly are safe. Ask yourself: How can I create a feeling of deep inner safety for myself, even if my external world feels like it’s moving too quickly for me right now?
* When change is moving quickly — and that change feels like it is good for us — we are also growing and changing very quickly. When I’m in a period of rapid change, I know that the “me” who does not feel capable of handling the change today will be more than capable of handling that change tomorrow, or tonight, in the moment I am called on to handle it.
Accepting the pace of our dreams starts with deep self-acceptance. When we’re not accepting of an aspect of ourselves, we are going to project that onto our dream and thwart the growth of that dream.
Think of your creative dream as a child: some kids need lots of time to play in blissful solitude; others run right out into the throng and play until they drop. If the kid who needs to play mostly alone, at her own pace, is forced out into the throng, she suffers and withdraws. If the kid who wants to immediately join the pack and play hard until the sun sets is forced into slower, solitary play, he feels isolated and suffers.
If you can accept your own needs AND the needs of your particular vision, your dream will unfold in a way that’s good for you AND the dream.
How do you deal with the unfolding of your creative projects? What have you learned about yourself along the way? I’d love to hear in the comments.
*And: Tomorrow, June 13, is the last day to register for the next session of Jenna Avery’s Writer’s Circle. If you’d like to develop a more regular writing habit with group support, check it out here.