I have a condition. I’m not sure if it’s psychological, neurological or astrological, but I’ve given it a name: wait-for-now syndrome.
“Now” is an idealized moment of perfect timing when a specific task – usually one being avoided – will get done. “Now” might also be referred to as “tomorrow.” People like me are constantly waiting for now to arrive in order to tackle things containing real or imagined difficulties. Writers, I’m convinced, have the most advanced form of this condition. Our specific strand of wait-for-now syndrome is rooted in the false premise that there will come a right moment to engage our creative work. And so, we wait for it. We wait for the sun to shine through our window at the right angle, the air to rest on our backs at the right degree, our coffee to cool to the right temperature and any number of environmental comforts to fall into alignment signaling that “now” has arrived and we are ready to write.
As often as I’ve waited for such moments to appear, they never have. They do exist, but not in the magical way that I hold out hope for. When I write something, no matter what it is, there is always a moment when everything falls into place and the words start to feel good on the page; but that only comes after some intense agitation. Perhaps that’s why those of us suffering with wait-for-now syndrome get stuck, because our memories deceive us. We hold onto the excitement of writing something that we are proud of in the forefront of our consciousness, but subconsciously we remember the creative pain we had to endure to get there. Thus, our subconscious convinces us to stay in waiting mode where we can hang onto the enthusiasm of our ideas without entering into the necessary struggle that accompanies their creation. However, our condition inhibits us from mindfully connecting the dots between the journey and the end result, known to many as the process.
For me, the writing process never changes. Once I’ve decided to actually start something, I outline my thoughts; write a bunch of disjointed sentences; cry out, “Why is this so hard!?”; pace a little; find a snack; sit back down; write some more and continue through the sludge until, at some point, it gets easier. And I’ve noticed that life follows a similar pattern. An idea is born; we hide from it until courage, curiosity or desperation compels us to do something; we find it difficult and non-linear; we eat our frustration; we somehow manage to get back to work; and if we can figure out a way to keep going we find that, at some point, it gets easier.
What we must do, us wait-for-now people, is constantly remind ourselves that this is how it always is…and it always gets easier. But only after we start, and stay, in the process. We can’t keep waiting.
Sorry to keep you waiting on my posts for 2015. Next week we get back to our monthly themes. In February, we’re exploring “Faith and Work.” See you next week!