I freaking ADORE the ocean. But it also scares me.
When I’m standing chest-deep in the water, watching a huge wave bear down on me, I can’t help but be a little terrified. My feet lose their grip on the bottom. The wave takes over as it passes — sometimes gently, sometimes leaving me scrambling to pull up my bikini bottom and keep from flashing the entirety of the swimming populace. It pummels me when it catches me the wrong way, and I get tired of being in the water really quickly.
Yesterday, my boyfriend pulled me close and let me crawl onto his back like a koala bear, then very gently kept going far past the point where I would normally stop.
“I can’t touch bottom when the waves come,” I protested.
“No one can,” he said.
Oh? No one can? You mean you all just agree that you’re going to lose touch with the bottom while the wave comes, letting it carry you where it wants to go? That’s kind of crazy and kind of brilliant.
I stayed in the water for over an hour with him, jumping over wave after wave after wave, my usual fear a distant memory. He kept me safe, telling me which waves to go under and which ones to go over. Even when a wave caught us just the wrong way and my bikini top went south, I came up soaked and laughing hysterically.
Waves all alone? Scary.
Waves when you’re a koala bear? Delightful.
So um. This is just to say that you can be my koala bear.
We’ll wade into those deep waters of your creative work — all those places where you get scared and run away or become too busy or too stressed or too sure you’re a failure to go on making stuff — and you can crawl onto my back and we’ll jump the waves together.
I won’t even laugh when your bikini top falls down, okay? I’ll just look to the horizon, gauging the size of the next wave, and we’ll handle it as a team.
Calling to the Deep isn’t some massive program that 7,000 people are taking, nor is it some cheap challenge meant to appeal to everyone and their cousin.
For $39 or even $399, I couldn’t show up and love you like you need when shit gets tough. (And for $39 or even $399, you probably wouldn’t show up for yourself like you’ll need to. Ever ignored a $39 product you ‘meant to’ read or get to later? ;) )
Calling to the Deep is for people who are ready to face their own brilliance — and therefore, their own resistance. Because they’re two sides of the same coin.
If you’ve been nursing the idea of a book or screenplay or song or album or program or product or podcast or painting or show for years, but you’ve always said you’ll find the time later — later is now.
Come along and ask your questions while we talk about doing the work that scares you most in the Too Tired Too Busy Too Stressed screencast, which is going down on September 3rd at 3pm ET.
We’ll talk about all the ways you feel too tired, stressed, or busy to do the work, even though you know you ‘should’ or it actually hurts to ignore it or put it aside. I’ll give you my top 5 ways to get the work done, even when you can’t fucking stand doing it.
We’ll talk about ways to tackle all the fears that crop up every time you try to do your hardest work, all the reasons you’re way too busy to do the program, and what daily creativity does for your business, even if it doesn’t seem to be related in the slightest.
I’ll also be giving away 3 copies of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, which is the book I’m so excited to read that I can’t even stand it.
Show up, ask questions (via chatroom! Because introversion!), and get the next steps for taking creative action in your life while throatpunching excuses left and right.
Click here to attend!
When I was 14, I was the world’s greatest poet.
I knew everything there was to know, and my perfectly rhyming, perfectly innocent poems were my star babies. I finished my poetry projects on time and I got an A+ long before anyone else had even submitted their work.
This writing stuff is easy! I’m going to do this for a living!
…and then I met my first love. And loved hard. And broke up.
Solitude used to be my favorite thing, but it became a torture chamber. Depression and loneliness were waiting for me every time I got a second alone.
By sticking to safe subjects and easy formulas, I had mastered absolutely nothing in my earlier years. But hot damn, I had fallen in love with the words themselves.
And so I returned to them.
I crawled around the shores of poetry, littered with words, and started clunking them together over and over again. This shape goes with that one. The sound of this piece stands on its own. This strand feels like falling in love. And this strand feels like being left alone again.
I wrote so many shitty poems over the course of my college years that I went all the way through my awful phase and came out half-decent. My ten thousand hours of writing went down when I was supposed to be writing lesson plans, reading the world’s great works of literature, and doing keg stands a few blocks away.
I learned to process what I was feeling through poetry, and to let words find a way into my wibbly, innermost bits.
Without all those shitty, shitty poems, most of which I never shared with another living soul, I found my way to writing the ones that are worth reading.
You know how it goes.
You want it go perfectly, but you find yourself wasting time and supplies, money and resources. You market the whole thing wrong. You freak out about how much you suck. You spend hours and hours thumbing through Instagram, comparing yourself to others and coming up short. You’re pretty sure you’re never going to make a go of this thing, and the thing itself keeps changing as you approach.
But you keep going. You keep improving, making mistakes as you go.
You throw yourselves onto the shores of whatever it is that calls you and you find a way through.
No safe subjects.
No easy formulas.
We can’t know what will happen when we throw ourselves into the art of making, but we can go exploring together.
Calling to the Deep is a 69-day business intensive for creatives.
You pick the scary-as-shit thing you’re going to do every day, and I hold you accountable for doing it. I help you through with club meetings and interviews, the book I’ve spent the last few months crafting, group holidays, and as honest-to-God a community as one can make online.
I should be telling you that you’ll get X very specific result when you finish, or that you’ll make an extra $10,000, or that you’ll feel better than ever before when you’re done. I should be pitching SO HARD to let you know that the program has opened its doors and is available at this very moment.
I’m doing marketing wrong by saying only this: come along and see what happens.
Commit to yourself and to the making — whatever it is, words, a website, an event, drawings, paintings, classes, a program, a podcast, WHATEVER it is — and then let yourself do it wrong.
Let yourself clang all the pieces together and make terrible noises,
or assemble the parts in ways that surprise you,
or make shitty shitty art and freak out about how much you suck
before you get up and try again tomorrow.
Fully commit to doing your work in the world, every day for 69 days, and I’ll commit to showing up and reminding you that doing it wrong? It’s actually the only way to get it right.
Take a look at Calling to the Deep and register today — we start on September 14th. Plenty of time to suck up the last days of the season and gear yourself up for doing this thing. ;)
P.S. If you’re all, YAH BUT KRISTEN I LOVE SO MANY THINGS, hop on over here and book a free 15-minute call with me. I’ll help you narrow down the thing to just the one that’s calling loudest right now. (The call is also good if you’re all YAH BUT I DON’T KNOW IF MY THING WILL WORK or OH GOD I HAVE NO TIME BUT I WANT TO DO THIS — talk to me.)
Check out Calling to the Deep. Book your call if you need to talk it through.
And may you, my friend, know the wonder on the other side of doing it wrong. ::mwah::
You are not allowed to fall at the feet of the muse and play victim.
You are called to show up.
To give it time. Commitment. Playmates.
(It isn’t great work because it’s easy.
It’s great work because
it is only yours to do.)
You will fall down
and you will let yourself down.
Without a doubt.
You will get back up
and it will be okay.
Without a doubt.
You will do your work
and it won’t be the thing everyone understands,
or the thing Grandma wishes you would do,
or the thing your partner keeps pushing at you to make a few extra bucks.
It’s the thing you deny;
the thing you run from,
the whisper you pretend doesn’t exist
so you can get through one more day.
It calls to you.
Softly. Loudly. At inopportune moments.
When you’re sleeping and when you’re fresh from dreamland.
In the shower, on the subway, in line at the store.
It will be a struggle. It will be simple and complicated all at once,
like doing cartwheels in your underwear when you should be Adulting
or skipping out on responsibility to make art that feels like running through the rain.
It will be, quite simply, worth it.
This week on That’s What She Said, we take a brief journey to find out what our work in the world has to say to us, then circle back around and I share what was revealed to me during the process.
Listen in below or subscribe so you never miss an episode.
It’s different every morning.
Sometimes it’s cleaning up the kitchen, righting everything in my path. Emptying the dishwasher and wiping the counters while waiting for my coffee to finish brewing.
Sometimes it’s listening to a podcast and hoping something sticks.
Sometimes it’s setting up my office outside, and lately it’s been heading for the local Starbucks.
Today it was praying to all that’s holy: “Carry me.”
Finding a way into your creative work can be the hardest part of working.
The monumentally stressful bits aren’t what everyone would imagine them to be: writing once you’ve started, or painting once you’ve made the time, or making up a recipe once you’ve gathered your ingredients and laid them all out before you.
The hardest part is the first step: staring at the blank page. Stepping into the studio. Giving up all the chores, tasks, and to-do’s you use to distract yourself in the name of starting to work again today.
And it’s always today.
Sometimes I feel like I’m banging at the door to the muse and I get the My Girl response: “Go away, and don’t come back for five to seven days!” But I’ve noticed some patterns that make it easier to find a way into starting the work.
Finding a way in gets easier with time.
I’ve been writing professionally for years and years now. It used to be a big deal to start, and now it’s often a matter of setting the timer for 20 minutes. I can sit and dick around for 19 minutes, sure, but if I have to publish whatever I’ve come up with, I’m not going to do that. Time limits help, as does the passage of time spent with your craft.
My pattern is to be working around 9am, and I feel the loss of it when it’s 9:15, 9:38, or 10:02 and I’m still OH SO BUSY doing something else. Starting at the same time eliminates the drama of deciding when to start.
When nothing else is working, I grab my supplies and get the fuck out of Dodge. I head outside if I’ve been in, inside if I’ve been spending most of my creative time outdoors. I’ve written in meadows and coffee shops, rented hotel rooms to get my work done, and written copy on my phone while getting my hair cut.
The world whispers whenever you pay attention.
You don’t need a whole room for your work.
I used to dream of a special room for writing, so I paid an interior designer for a floor plan and furniture recommendations. I oohed and aahed at her brilliance, then promptly failed to use any of those plans. Must be too fancy, I thought, so I asked my Dad to make me a standing desk instead. I set the whole magical fantasy writing room up, and failed to use it, too. Turns out I like writing at the kitchen table best of all.
A bigger space or more supplies won’t make the difference between your doing the work and not doing the work.
Only calmly, consistently finding a way in will help you make any headway.
If you’d like my help finding a way in, I suggest the free 7-day Calling to the Deep challenge — in which I help you do the work that scares the shit out of you for 7 days in a row.
Pop your name in the box and I’ll hit you with support, guidance, and yes, reminders to get out there and do the work.
It’s easy to get stuck in the not-doing. There are bills to pay, floors to mop, groceries to get, meals to cook, vendors to e-mail, clients to call, notes to write, articles to publish, photos to edit, and people to love.
We push the hard work, the deep work, and the important work to the back burner.
I’ll get to that when I have time.
In a month or two.
January, for sure.
I’m no exception to this rule. There’s been a single, unrelenting file blinking at me from my desktop, begging for attention for years now. It’s a young adult novel that I think about and then move to the dreaded ‘later’ mental time slot every time I see it.
Out of the blue one Sunday afternoon, my Dad asked, “When are you gonna write the next Hunger Games?”
Um. Dad. First, you barely speak. Why this!? Second. How did you know I’ve wanted to write a novel for years, but I’ve prioritized the business work? How do you know a story begs to be let out of its cage every day?
I know the work is important. So I resist it.
It’s taken years since Dad’s comment to work up the courage, but I’m writing that novel right now. It took joining a writing group and committing to daily writing to make it happen, but it’s finally taking shape. I’m doing the work!
Maybe it’s time to give ‘later’ the finger.
Maybe it’s time to stop running and face the work that scares you every damn day.
Even if you’ve never done it before, or you’re sure it will suck, or you’re scheduled to within an inch of your life as it is. Even if you’re broke, tired, or barely getting by on sugar fumes. There will never be a better or more ideal time to start. There will only be an endless series of ‘right now’s to choose from.
If you wanna join bunches of people who are doing the work #everydamnday for the next 7 days — no excuses, no starting later, no freaking out about how behind you are on housework or schoolwork or errands — pop your name in the box below.
P.S. If you need help picking out the project you’ll take on #everydamnday, listen in: