“With every new piece I write, I get to a point where I lose confidence in it. Then I have a couple of days battling my desire to scrap it, and eventually drag myself back to the keyboard and slog through to the ending. Reminding myself that this happens *every single time* helps a bit.” — Sheila Finch
With any process, it is likely you will hit a point where you empty yourself out and must grow, or “shed your skin” to complete the task. In the Hero’s Journey, this is the “Dark Night of the Soul” and it is vicious. Its special power is the strange fact that, once you go through it, you promptly forget it was ever there, so that the next time it is often just as surprising.
This is one reason why SMALL CHUNKS of work are so critical. This is the reason short stories are so critical a part of the growing process: you are developing the emotional muscle and the clarity to create a larger work. A novel’s worth of “Dark Night” can be 100X as daunting as a short story’s worth. You have to work your way there, developing discipline, resistance to emotional pain, focus, knowledge of how to organize your office or mind or heart, gather allies, and simply learn to recognize the stages of your process.
THIS IS EXACTLY THE REASON FOR THE MORNING RITUAL. 99% of the time that someone complains that they aren’t getting things done in their day, that their discipline, or focus, or creativity fails…they don’t have enough “inspiration” or their lives got terribly busy, or their ex-spouses are making life hell or their jobs are imploding…
If you ask how they are dealing with the SMALLEST unit of their lives, the “Five Minute Miracle” (stopping every three hours for sixty seconds of breathing and focus)…it is doubtful.
If you ask how the Morning Ritual is going…it isn’t. The most constant “error” (it isn’t really, IMO…it is the ego protecting itself) is a failure to combine movement with emotion and mental focus.
Why? I suspect it is the same reason newbies resist writing short stories. Get THAT right, and you will successfully challenge the next level of work. To do it, in other hand…
- You need all the TECHNICAL skills of writing.
- You need all the internal EMOTIONAL skills of writing
- You need to have internal PERMISSION to succeed.
- You need to be willing to take RESPONSIBILITY for your results–to stop blaming the outside world.
This is tough. It is SO easy to blame your family, job, society, genetics, past experiences or whatever for your results. The average person does exactly this…which is why they get average results. Want ABOVE average results? You CANNOT behave, think, feel like the average person. You MUST do something different. Cook with the same recipe, you’ll make the same cake. It is terrifyingly simple.
So the “Morning Ritual” needs to be set up such that IF you do it, you are performing a microcosm of all the things you need to accomplish your dreams. Then, tinker with it. If you can’t do it, ADMIT IT. And look at the things that stop you, and begin to gather the resources that you need to do it. Here are the things you are locking in place IF and WHEN you properly perform your Morning Ritual:
- SMART goal setting (Specific, Meaningful, As-if now, Realistic, Time-Bound)
- M.A.G.I.C. formula (Action X Gratitude X intention X Conviction)
- Basic fitness
- Emotional health (learning to access emotions on demand by focusing, using your body properly, and controlling language)
- Starting the day with success
- Learning to identify the “Monkey Mind” by noting the negative internal monologue.
There is more, but man, that is a LOT for 5-20 minutes. If it wasn’t a lot, it would be easy to do. And it is “scalable”: the more dynamic you need to be that day, the more dynamic you make your movement, and the louder and more emotionalized your affirmations need to be.
Short stories are the micro to the macro “novel writing.”
The Morning Ritual is the micro to the macro called “your perfect day.”