A few years ago when I was writing my book, Feminine Genius, I deeply embraced the saying, “80% of writing is NOT writing.”
What that saying means to me is that, in writing a book or some similar kind of work, there is A LOT of time when my fingers need NOT be tickling the keyboard or my pen need NOT move industriously over the paper. When, instead, I could and should be staring at the blank page or going to a dance class or smelling a flower or wondering if I am a fraud or researching my topic or reading poetry to get re-inspired.
Rather than letting me continue to assume that everything else aside from the actual physical act of putting words on a page is bunk, that pithy saying invites me instead to remember that there is more that goes into writing than word count or hours logged that day. Waaaaaaay more.
There is something important and vital to the creative process — whether it’s writing or coaching or parenting or dancing or what have you — that happens when we are not directly producing that work. And that helps inform the work.
The physical act of writing (or whatever work you do) becomes hollow, meaningless, and rote when we avoid the space of NOT working.
Here’s what happens when we are NOT writing or NOT working. Sure, sometimes we get stage fright or eat more chocolate than is good for us as an avoidance tactic. But mostly what happens is that we get out of our linear, logical mind. Out of critical thinking, productivity, morality, judgment, order, hierarchy, competition. Out of anxiety, worry, and fear. Out of what I call our Masculine Genius — sometimes called masculine brain or left brain.
And by doing the dreamy, dancey, sunset-y, chocolatey stuff we get into our intuitive mind. Into our instincts, feelings, sensations, awe, joy, divinity, and connection. Into what I call our Feminine Genius — sometimes called feminine brain or right brain.
I think of Feminine Genius as a deep, wide pool of warm water somewhere inside of each of us. Its banks are verdant and fertile and smell like heaven. When we loosen our grip on logic and productivity, we allow ourselves to slip into this delicious place that is the source of creativity itself, the source of motivation itself, the source of wild devotion to whatever is our craft or work.
This inner pool of Feminine Genius revives and refreshes. It bathes us in inspiration. In it, we connect with the heart of the heart of the reason we do whatever it is that we do. This is the place that allows us to get into “the zone” or a “flow state.” We feel safe. We feel good, courageous, and one with all that is — because we are.
Every time I go splash around in my inner Feminine Genius swimming hole, the article I write or choice I make or conversation I have carries with it a power that transmits, that touches, and that heals. Every time I forget that “80% of doing good work is NOT working” and I just log the hours or plod through, the end result kind of sits there like a bump on a log.
And let me tell you, getting used to NOT working as an important part of doing good work, is NOT easy for me and my Masculine Genius left brain.
We live in a world that looooooves logic and productivity and whatever can be measured with a pie chart. We are all groomed to disregard the unseen and only care about the tangible, final product. But the final product that has been touched by Feminine Genius is a radically more worthwhile product.
This is not a slam to your Masculine Genius left brain. We all have one, and it’s freakin awesome, and it is your Masculine Genius that does the heavy lifting to get your work into the world. It’s just that most of us make Masculine Genius our one god and our true goal, and the truth is that we need just as much Feminine Genius or our work suffers and our lives stall out.
So, I’m raising my glass to you as you step away from your keyboard, slip off your sandals, and dive headfirst into the medicinal waters of your inner Feminine Genius. Loll around for a while and get a good drenching.
Your work will be better for it.
PS: I have a super exciting new program that I get to share with you in the coming weeks, all about you + your work + feminine Genius. And it comes with a big gift for you as well, so stay tuned!