Writing Rollercoasters

By Steve Hart

It’s been a couple weeks since I started writing a book, and to say the experience has been a rollercoaster of emotions is an understatement. The writing process started with electricity, as the words flowed out of my fingers quickly and with excitement. The process was so powerful that the content of my writing reflected on my emotional state. I cried as I wrote of past pain, laughed at my own silly jokes, and felt a sense of peace as I discussed certain perspectives. The process is cathartic, and putting my thoughts onto paper helped to give them structure in my own mind, furthering my own understanding of the content.  

This process was all well and great for the first few days. All I wanted to do was write, so I put in as many hours a day as I could manage. I was tearing through the daunting 60,000 word goal that I set for myself. At nearly 20,000 words within a week, I was feeling good.

That was the case up until a certain point, when the writing slowed and doubt started to creep in. The first few hours after a writing period I felt amazing, as pictures of my book flying off the shelves kept me excited and motivated. A few hours later, doubt started to creep in. “Who are you to write a book.” “You don’t know any better, you need more experience before you can publish anything.” “Your book will disappoint people.” “It doesn’t make sense, no one will relate.” “You should just give up now and stop wasting time.”

It was insane! The kind of negative thoughts that crept into my head and ate away at my excitement, I never would have imagined the self-doubt this process would inflict. A younger me would have given up slowly, falling prey to the non-existent critiques of future readers, weighed down by the negativity until eventually I let go of the dream. The present me has a different perspective. In fact, at one point the words I was writing in my book were exactly the advice I needed to hear to stick with it and keep writing.

Instead of allowing the negative thoughts to overtake me, I instead noticed them with a sense of intrigue. Like I was watching a movie that started happy and light before taking a twist and becoming dark and heavy, my response was “huh, now that’s interesting.” I knew that my thoughts were completely unjustified, and stepped back to see them as quite silly. At this point, what I’ve written has not been seen by anyone, it’s only the first draft and I have a lifetime to rewrite and improve. To be debilitated by the thought of failure is nonsensical, as the only way I can fail is if I quit writing. Upon recognizing these thoughts for what they are, a huge weight released from my conscious, and I continued to write freely without concern for the outcome of my writing.

I wanted to know why I was having these thoughts, so I looked deeper, wanted to find the source. And that source was my ego. I was acting like an author, and “author” was not part of the identity that my ego had created for me. The act of writing was in complete defiance to my ego, so the more I wrote the more my old identity began to shed. I liken this process to drowning. For the first few moments of being held under water, everything is ok. You still have oxygen in the body and you can survive no problem. As the seconds continue to tick you start feeling uncomfortable, then frantic, and finally your body writhes in desperation to get air as death creeps ever nearer. In is the process of shedding the ego, the deeper you go the more painful it becomes and your mind will do anything it can to save yourself. My ego told me I was not a writer, let alone an author, so as I continued to write my ego started to drown. At first it was fine, but eventually it started writhing and sending me messages to quit. I am sure the process will continue as I go along, but the awareness of what is happening allows me to see the negative thoughts as a positive thing. As the ego drowns, a new voice emerges. In this case, that of a writer.

Everyone dreams of what they want in life, but so few actually take the steps to go after it. Some may even try, but give up fairly quickly when confronted with challenges. Whether it is starting a business, starting a relationship, or just getting into shape, the ego’s whisper will amplify to a scream as you start to shed your old self for the new one. Your ego says you are an overweight person, so when you shed the pounds you are drowning the old self, and the ego does not like that one bit. The ego says you are single and lonely, so the thought of being happily in love is a threat.

This will always be the case, no matter what new identity you evolve towards, the ego will drag its heals. The key is to recognize what is happening in yourself and finding the strength to continue. Eventually the ego will let go, drown, and allow you freedom and expansion in your new role. That is, until you take the next step towards an even higher self, at which point you will have to go through the process again.

The good news, shedding the ego and breaking through the barriers of self-doubt gets easier, it just takes practice. The first time you do it, it is excruciating and might seem impossible. Most people stop right there, and never make it out of the current version of themselves. But the next time, it gets a bit easier. And the more we do it, the more we follow our hearts and step into whatever calls us to be our highest selves, the easier the process becomes. Eventually, there is no more drag from the ego. We live in a state of flow, of constant growth and evolution, and life provides us with everything we need. It is a beautiful place to live and is accessible to everyone. It takes courage, persistence, and a bit of patience and you can walk the path of your highest self. In this rather short period of time we have in this body on this Earth, I would argue that living as our highest selves should be a top priority, anything else is wasting time and opportunity.

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