Sunday, February 21, 2021

Swimming against the current

There are some days when writing can feel like we're swimming against the current, and we have to acknowledge we aren't able to make any headway. 

It can feel like we're caught in a riptide pulling us further and further from shore, and even though we keep trying to swim toward our destination, swimming only gets harder.

And the harder we try to return to shore, the more fatigued we become... and the more impossible it is to keep swimming.  

Each stroke leaves us weaker, and each effort we make to keep writing feels more and more futile.

What are we supposed to do? 

Do we stay in the water and keep trying to swim against the current? 

Or do we try to get out?

In such a situation, the first thing we might need to do, I suspect, is to recognize that we're caught in the riptide.

And then we need to stop struggling, stop trying to swim back toward shore. 

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but on days when it feels like we're swimming against the current, we need to let go of what we want to do and allow the current to take us where it wants to take us. 

Only then, when the current begins to slack off and loses its power, can we slip out of its grip and start swimming again-- parallel to shore rather than directly toward it--until we've escaped the current's clutches entirely and can swim back towards shore unimpeded. 

It may take a while when we're swimming against the current to realize “this isn’t working,” and it takes courage to be willing to let go of what we're trying to write, to stop struggling, put down our pen, and refrain from pushing on.

But in order to keep writing, we need to figure out another route, a different path, to reach our destination. 

There is a fear in all of us, I suspect, that if we stop writing, we’ll sink to the bottom of the sea and never return to the surface again. 

Writing is what keeps us afloat, after all.

But here's the thing: when we stop writing, we don’t sink.

We keep floating, sustained by the desire to write, our love of words, our need for stories and poems.

And floating--that stage when we're still in the water but not swimming in a particular direction-- can give us the perspective we need to regain our bearings and see where we are and where we need to go.

Once we're able to stop swimming against the current, we can begin making our way towards home.

If you'd like to check out a few helpful articles on when writing is hard, visit: