We are all a Work-in-Progress

I am a WIP. You are too.

I am a WIP. You are, too. We novelists use “WIP” to mean “Work in progress.”

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My house is messy.

I don’t take showers often enough. Sorry.

My furniture is old. My rug needs replacing. There are cracks along the edges of my kitchen floor.

I can’t remember the last time I did my filing.

I need a haircut…

But I can still write. I can still work on my book. I have those five pages of my novel to edit today. (That’s my daily goal. Small steps…)

Even though our lives are a mess, definite works-in-progress, we can still work on our books, our articles, our memoirs, or nonfiction book.

And, if I spent all my time trying to get everything done, you wouldn’t be reading this post.

This post is about writing even though life can be a mess.

Photo by Wenni Zhou on Unsplash (Hayes Valley, San Francisco, United States)

Try this idea on for size.

YOUR FUTURE SELF IS WRITING

What does working on your writing look like today?

Take a moment to visualize yourself doing your writing. Add in any smells, textures, tastes, and sounds.

Photo by travelnow.or.crylater on Unsplash (Berlin, Germany)

Now, step into that Future You and take a breath or two. Stay there for as long as you’d like. What does that feel like?

Now step back out and be in your Now. Wiggle to bring yourself back to your body.

Okay. Good.

Now notice that future version of you: Is that version of you able to create even though things are a mess around you, or even inside of you?

(I’m guessing yes. But see for yourself.)

Is it okay that your future version of you can write even though things aren’t perfect?

Can you give yourself permission to create even though you are a work in progress?

I think so.

Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash (Sydney, Australia)

WHAT IF

What if your future version of you is just waiting for you to take that first step, then they’ll take care of the rest?

TAKE ACTION: TIMELINE EXERCISE

I find it helpful to visualize a timeline of the day stretching away from my Now into the next few hours, usually until dinner time or until the next commitment on my calendar. You can stretch the timelines across your field of view from left to right.

Image by Beth Barany using Canva.com

To visualize, I imagine an image out in front of me, about an arm’s length. For me, it’s a white widescreen with a really cool edging and sitting on a nice cabinet. Make your screen however you’d like.

There’s your timeline on your widescreen, stretching from left — the past — to right — your future. And there’s your future self, who is writing.
Photo by J A N U P R A S A D on Unsplash

Make that an icon of yourself. Mine looks like the car from the Monopoly game.

At what point on your timeline do you place this future version of you, represented by an icon?

To find the WHEN, I move the icon of me bent over my manuscript — I’m hand editing at this point — to when I normally like to write. That is usually between the hours of 11:30 am and 2 pm. That’s my best and favorite time to do my creative work.

If I’m doing this exercise the night before, I slide my icon a little to right to the next day’s 11:30 am to 2 pm slot.

Then I see how that feels. Do I feel tight in my body? I keep moving that image along my timeline until it feels good.

Do I feel a sense of release? Ah. That’s the sweet spot.

I then connect that image there in that THEN by drawing a line from the image to my timeline. This connection acts as an anchor. Next, I nestle the image on the timeline, gently.

I give myself total permission to change my mind. You can too.

I come back to Now and feel the tug of my Future Self beckoning me forward, reminding me of my readers, reminding me how much I love my story and story world, and reminding me how much I like to play in the mess of words.

YOUR TURN: WORK IN PROGRESS

Now your turn:

1. Set up your screen to visualize your day. Set the screen out in front of your eyes about arm’s length. Make the screen as big as you want.

2. Put a timeline of your day on the screen. Notice where Now is. To the left is the past and to the right is the future.

3. Put that image of your Future Self on the timeline and notice how it feels. Notice also if you have people around you, where you are, and what things are around you.

4. Find the sweet spot and anchor the Future You writing there.

5. For fun and usefulness, step into that future version of you writing and notice how that feels to you. Make sure it feels great. Make any changes to that experience to make it yummy, or bright, or sound great, or feel good.

6. Come back to your Now. Wiggle your body to help that process.

7. Look at your Future Self and feel the connection, the relationship, that you have with this version of you.

8. Is there anything you want different about this connection? If so, go back into this Future Self experience and tweak.

9. Come back to your Now. Wiggle, wiggle. Go about your day; soon it will be time to write.

10. What’s different about your experience now you know you can create your Future Self just the way you’d like? Comment below.

My future self is beckoning me to do the dishes. Ciao for now!

In the meantime, Happy Writing!

c. 2018 Beth Barany


Beth Barany is the Founder of Barany School of Fiction and helps novelists discover their own creative process and have fun too. She’s a novelist too! Sign up here for our free 5-Day Writer Discovery course: http://bethb.net/discover.