How to Nourish Abundance through Generous Writing
Does writing ever seem like a shot in the dark? Like the world of ideas has already been picked dry by more creative or successful writers? Does your genre ever feel too small for a measly scrap like you?
Today, I’m kicking off a series I’ve called Generous Writing. It’s about how to use writing as a way to practice generosity–not just to improve our writing, but to improve our experience of life.
To start, I’m reflecting on how imbuing our writing with a sense of generosity can help to nourish an abundance mentality. In writing, as in life, it’s easy to live from a place of fearful or hopeless scarcity. Being generous in and with our writing can bring us into a new place of expansiveness and growth.
What is an abundance mentality?
In an article for Inc.com, Angelina Zimmerman contrasts scarcity and abundance living:
In life, our mindset determines which road we travel on. One road is paved in scarcity and the other road is filled with abundance at every turn. In any moment, we can choose to change which road we want to travel on. The scarcity pathway leads one to experience a life not fully lived, a life that can only be described as pedestrian. Overflowing with strong negative reactions like the high tide that creates waves in a rock pool not to mention the countless missed opportunities and experiences. Those that choose to walk along the path of abundance experience a completely different life. Opting to live life to the full, exuding happiness, generous by nature, creative and inspirational. Taking full advantage and enjoying the wave of opportunities that come their way, along with memorable experiences.
As Zimmerman explains, people with an abundance mentality tend to:
- Think big rather than small;
- Believe resources are plentiful rather than lacking;
- Are happy rather than resentful when others succeed;
- Embrace change and innovation rather than fear it;
- Are proactive rather than reactive;
- Crave and value learning rather than knowing it all;
- Choose to dwell on what is working rather than what is not working (negativity).
Scarcity and Writing
I don’t know about you, but there are few areas in my life where I battle scarcity mentality more intensely than in writing. I’ll persuade myself I can’t write about this or that experience because the people that were involved in that experience would probably be mad–or no one will want to read it, or my experiences are not noteworthy enough to share with others to begin with. Or I’ll refrain from following up on a good idea for a proposal out of the assumption others have written about that topic and I couldn’t possibly have anything new/ worthwhile/ unique to add to the conversation. When I do manage to get something written, I am often plagued by self-consciousness and a nagging suspicion that I said too much, aimed too high, went too far. In my worst moments, I begin to assume most people (read: reviewers) in the world are basically mean, accusatory, or condemning–at least they will be in regards to my writing.
I can personally attest that this is a painful and unfruitful way to go through life. It’s also uncharitable–the vast majority of my readers, for example, are kind and thoughtful.
But here’s a humorous, if slightly neurotic, case in point… As I write this, the concierge of my building has been holding a package for me for nearly four days. I’ve convinced myself that box contains the author copies of my recently published book. I think I’m supposed to be ecstatic about this, especially as a first-time author, yet I can’t bring myself to go down and retrieve it. That would mean my book is real–it is really out there, in the world, and probably people will be mean and write all sorts of vindictive reviews on Amazon. So there my books sit, gathering dust. Several times a day, I make the walk of shame past the concierge and pretend not to hear when they remind me I have a package.
Relatively unfounded fear and paranoia like that are markers of scarcity living. They conceive of the world as hostile and void of unsupportive, unwelcoming people. It assumes that change–in this case, making the shift to being a published author–couldn’t possibly be good. Finally, it believes that opening oneself up to others by default doesn’t turn out well.
There are many ways to redirect scarcity thinking–generosity is one of them. It directly counteracts the narrow and fearful self-focus of scarcity.
One thing I’m doing
I’ve been asking myself a question lately: What I can I do in my writing to “lean into” abundance rather than retreat into the comfort zone of scarcity?
Here’s one answer I’ve come up with, and it goes back to those trepidation-inducing author copies.
Along with distributing those books to the usual friends and family, I plan to send a copy to three people I don’t really know. These are folks whose work was personally encouraging while I wrote my book or who demonstrate qualities I strove to emulate in my writing style.
My scarcity mentality tells me NOT to share my book with these people–not to share it with anyone, for that matter. For one thing, they are all worlds ahead of me in their careers and wouldn’t otherwise know I exist–why make myself a target?
Somehow, though, sending these works to them is important, and probably more so for me than for them. I think it is important for me to say thank you. I think I need to do that to know that I am stronger and more loving than the shackles of scarcity and paranoia that hold me in. I don’t need them to be grateful or write me back about how amazing my book is–sending them a copy is an important step for me. As I take my first steps into the world as a published author, it is important to me to be generous, open, and humble. For me, this means giving back to folks who’ve helped me, knowingly or unknowingly, and regardless of how they react (or don’t react) to my writing.
Rather than intensifying my anxiety, merely thinking about sharing my book has helped create more space within the confining closet of my own fears.
With any luck, I’ll soon be able to go downstairs and retrieve those author copies from the mail room 😃
What are you doing to be generous with your writing? How does it help you experience the world through the lens of abundance and scarcity?
(Author’s update: In the weeks since drafting this post, I have managed to pick up the books. More than that, my book has actually been released and people have actually begun writing reviews on Amazon. As usual, reality turned out to be a lot less fearsome–and a lot more generous–than my fears would have me believe. I have yet to send out the copies to the folks I mentioned, but it’s on my to-do list for the week.)