Here is what I cannot stop asking myself: How do people get through the inevitable challenge of writing and create their best work? What drives them?
Really, that question has driven me for years to experiment with, research, and create.
It’s driven me to track wonder.
It’s one thing to fall in love with a fantasy. It’s another thing to stand in love with a dream.
Members in the Tracking Wonder community and ecosystem are creating their best work. Like, every week. It’s a pretty astonishing to witness. They’re launching workshops, websites, writing books, poetry & building businesses.
But none of them are without challenges.
One author, Lee Rankin, raises a teenage son on an alpaca farm that sits atop a frigid mountain in North Carolina. She’s used to climbing mountains.
Cindy Henson, another writer in our community, and Lee both finished book drafts after starting from from scratch ten months before.
Their challenges are our challenges.
Cindy said “Making the time to write and learn a new skill has been the biggest challenge this year.”
Lee told me “My biggest challenge in completing the draft, after tackling time and life distraction, was the processing I needed to do to get out of my own way. The commitment to drafting took me through inner terrain that combined the solo journey of a vision quest with the intensity of the dark night of the soul.”
Paula Trucks- Pape is a writer and caretaker of sustainable land. Her challenge? The fear of not knowing what to do or if she’s capable.
My team and I build relationships with business artists in all fields to help them write content, shape story-based strategies to build or transition branding identities, and shape & sell books.
We face these challenges every week:
- Creative impasses and brick walls.
- Unbidden surprises galore.
- The 4 Core Limitations – time, stamina, focus, bandwidth for novel idea generation.
So what drives us through the challenges?
From my research, interviews, and experiences, I can group these variables of psychology, habit, and relationship into these three:
An Open Mindset (wonder, curiosity, equanimity, dot-connecting, desire to learn & grow & improve)
An Agile Handse (experimentation, step-taking, risk-taking, pivoting, recalibrating)
A Devoted Heartset (devotion, meaning, impact, relationship)
And it’s that last part – devotion – that often distinguishes fantasizers from actualizers.
It’s one thing to fall in love with a fantasy of writing a book or launching a business or owning the Story you and your business artistry must tell.
And it’s quite another thing to stand in love with your dream that really matters.
Devotion is a “profound dedication.” At its root is the word “voc” and “vow.” Your speech, your word, your promise lines up with your choices and actions.
It’s not a quality that always bull dozes you through brick walls. But it is a quality that grants you the courage, the heart fuel, to surmount unpredictable difficulties.
But here’s the curious thing about the attention of devotion.
Again, Cindy: “Learning a new craft and writing a story that empowers people was how I began the journey. By the middle or so, I realized it was about offering a gift at the completion of the hero’s journey. A way to give back from an incredible journey. I stopped worrying about what people would think about the book, and focused more on wanting this to be a great story for my patch of the planet. And that readers would leave with inspiration to try new paths or new ways that up until now were pushed away in favor of the practical.”
And Lee: “I am devoted to the writer’s voice who now wakes me up with something to say. I am devoted to learning the craft of writing through sharing this story, my hero’s journey in a way that brings it to life for my readers.”
When you’re devoted, all of those challenges? It ain’t about the little you. Your self-knowledge extends to craft knowledge which extends to knowledge of the gift of business artistry – elevating your patch of the planet, your heroes.
Gandhi knew a thing or two about challenge. “Without devotion,” he writes, “action and knowledge are cold and dry, and may even become shackles.”
Pavarotti said that people thought his discipline was the secret to his success. “It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.”
Devotion is a quality that my colleagues who head a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program look for in applicants.
Devotion is something my team and I listen for in potential clients.
What am I devoted to? I have wondered what has driven me through a Decade of Disruption. It’s true that during a particularly grueling time, I did gaze into my then-three-month-old girl’s sky-wide blue eyes and remembered my devotion.
To help create a world where grown ups must wonder again and again.
Why? Because it is that singular experience, discreet as it is, that keeps cracking us open to possibility again and again.
Even amidst fires and hospitals, brick walls and blocks, storms of self-doubt and despair, empty bank accounts and broken ankles, it’s possible for you to shape if not master a meaningful creative life.