Cycling vs. Editing or Revising, Revisited

Hey folks,

I was handed this post on a silver platter by a commenter back in April over on my Daily Journal. Huh. I almost wrote “on the proverbial silver platter,” but to my knowledge there is no silver platter mentioned in Proverbs.

Anyway, the commenter wrote

“Cycling requires a tremendous amount of trust from the creative side. That you’re not going to meddle with the story unnecessarily….”

I omitted much of her comment, but she ends with “But the trust gets rewarded.”

She’s right. The trust does get rewarded, as trust in yourself always does.

I wrote a brief response back in April, but I also decided to elaborate here. It’s been my experience that what one person asks, twenty others want to ask.

Yes, cycling requires tremendous trust in the subconscious. In fact, it requires EXACTLY the same tremendous amount of self-confidence and trust in the subconscious that is required of writing into the dark in the first place. Same “source” (the subconscious), same process except that you’re reading (as a Reader, not an editor) and allowing your characters to touch the story.

I would never allow myself to meddle with the story, in the writing or in the cycling. In fact, once you “get it” — meaning once you trust yourself enough to write off into the dark and learn how truly freeing it is — meddling with the story becomes an alien concept.

For me, the path to that trust was this: It isn’t my place to meddle with the story because it simply isn’t my story. It’s the POV character’s story. I have no more right to influence it than I have to meddle with the lives of my neighbors or my adult children or anyone else.

And as I pointed out in the previous post, ANY negative that pops into your mind as you read comes from the conscious, critical (negative) mind.

If, while I was writing or cycling, I heard “this is horrible” (or “awful”) or anything else negative, I’d get up and take a walk or go do something else, all the while telling my critical mind to shut up and get back in its corner.

If you get a little sick feeling in your gut when you make a change while you’re cycling, that’s another sure sign that somewhere along the way you’ve slipped into the critical, conscious mind.

When that happens (and it still occasionally happens to me), I recommend immediately hitting Undo on your screen. Then go take that walk, etc. until you are able to relegate the conscious mind back to its cage. It has no place in writing, and it has no place in cycling.

Or put another way, editing and revising (coming as they do from the critical mind) require concentration and work.

Cycling, like all things from the subconscious creative mind, is always a joy.

If it isn’t, or if it’s negative, you aren’t cycling. You’re editing. And you will make the story worse.

The fact is, until you learn to trust yourself, your creative subconscious (and your characters to tell their own story), you won’t be able to cycle, but neither will you be able to write off into the dark in the first place.

To take a roadtrip with no map and no idea where you’re going or when you’ll get back home requires a great deal of trust in your abilities. And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you write “off into the dark” or as my friend Michaele Lockhart calls it, “off into the unknown.”

Imagine for a moment you’ve decided to chronicle the life of your adult son and his wife and children. Without them being aware you’re doing so, of course.

You want what’s best for your children, so it takes a lot of trust in them to let them make their own decisions and live their own lives, especially while you’re watching.

Yet you know in your control-freak heart of hearts that their life will be better And More Authentic than it would if you tried to levy control over it. So instead, you support them in their decisions and let them live their own life, their own story.

(And if you don’t know that yet, think about it: How much did you want to live your own life instead of letting your parents control your every action, interaction and comment?)

Exactly the same thing is true of your characters and their life, their story.
Exactly the same thing.

So to return to the commenter’s original comment, ANY “meddling” with the story is done “unnecessarily.” And it will harm the story. Period.

Perhaps worse than that, allowing your critical mind to meddle with the story will tell your subconscious you DON’T trust it.

And that, my friends, will kill any chance you have of telling interesting, authentic stories.

‘Til next time, happy writing!


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