Brenda Ueland says, “Now some people when they sit down to write and nothing special comes, no good ideas, are so frightened that they drink a lot of strong coffee to hurry them up, or smoke packages of cigarettes, or take drugs or get drunk. They do not know that ideas come slowly, and that the more clear, tranquil, and unmutilated you are, the slower the ideas come, but the better they are.” Part of being aware of the process is understanding that anything good takes time. There are some things in life we simply cannot rush, and quality is one of them. We must respect the process, and part of that process is time.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“One of the side effects of our addictive doing too much is that we begin to use chemicals and other addictive substances to keep us going. Then our addiction to doing too much becomes compounded with a complex array of other addictions.
Another side effect of being women who do too much is that we find ourselves progressively out of touch with our creativity and productivity.
Brenda Ueland uses the focus of becoming a writer to call us back to ourselves. Yet, the truth in what she is saying applies not only to writers, it applies to all of us. Our creativity and productivity always suffer when we use addictive substances to try to force them.”
Though Brenda refers specifically to writers, her insights call to mind many cultural stereotypes that exist: The overworked banker whose long hours and late nights, along with an excessive discretionary income, lead to a cocaine habit. The bored and exhausted homemaker whose prescription pills provide a welcome reprieve from housework. The strained musician whose reliance on drugs and alcohol fuels their creativity and keeps them going on tour. We live in a society of quick fixes and miracle drugs, so why wouldn’t we believe that they, and not time, could help us?
We tend to operate out of fear, letting our desire for immediacy control our lives. We think if things don’t happen right now—if we don’t finish this project, if the ideas don’t come, if we don’t see results—then they never will. Fear distorts our reality, blurring our awareness until we can no longer see how things truly are, only the way we think they are. We lose awareness of the natural process. Fear can lead us to try to force things. We might to turn to substances to give us energy that keeps us productive or to fuel our creativity and help the ideas flow. These temporary fixes might seem to work in the short term, but really all they are doing is dulling our senses and inhibiting our productivity and creativity in the long term. Eventually the drugs and caffeine will wear off, we will sober up, and then we will be left feeling even more drained and depleted than we were before.
Awareness of process means letting things happen in their own time, not forcing them. Life happens at its own pace, and we tend to enjoy it a lot more if we go with the flow rather than fight it.