I like to believe in signs.
I mean, they’re really just coincidences and my brain noticing certain things more given context, as well as assigning random events certain meanings, but it can actually be quite helpful to aid the mysteries of the writing process.
Signs can come from whatever you like to believe—God, the universe, fate, a deceased loved one watching over you, the literary deities, the muses, or… science? I don’t want to proscribe any particular view of the world here, but I think no matter what you believe, you can look for signs just for fun.
And, if you choose, you can interpret any sign as a positive one to motivate you further in your creative endeavors.
Some signs are a stretch, and really just meant to make you feel like something out there is on your side. The perfect green light, the unexpected money found in a forgotten pair of jeans, the extra coffee delivered when your first was made wrong unbeknownst to you (this actually did happen to me—and two sugary coffee drinks may be a sign that my potential diet was not meant to be). Take these tiny moments of joy as the positivity of the universe reinforcing the importance of you in the world.
But sometimes, when you ask the universe for a specific sign, you get it—if you know what to look for (and shamelessly make up).
When I was about 120 pages into the draft, I still couldn’t quite believe that I would make it all the way. At the same time, I felt pretty good that my ability to go all the way was in my control, and no doubt out there could shake it. So I flippantly dared the universe to throw me the worst possible doubt I could think of off the top of my head—a book exactly like mine, already in existence.
Well, working at a library checking in materials has its pluses, and its minuses—and what should fall in my book drop that exact day but a book with an eerily similar concept, and even some similar details as I flipped through it. Was this a sign that I was not meant to write this project?
I refused to see it that way. Not even a doubt as big as that one, that I was writing a project doomed to fail as a rip-off before it even got released, could make me want to stop writing it. And I decided that the true purpose of the sign was to test me, and show me that I could do this—that there wasn’t a doubt out there that could stop me now.
But I did ask for another sign, that same day, just to be sure. And when I got home to my parents’ house, where I sometimes spend the night when I have to work in the morning (since they live so close to my work, and I live sort of far, for a part time job), I expected to have distractions from my writing. But no sooner did I walk into the house when all of my family members separately departed to various events I didn’t know about—leaving me with nothing to do but write.
The universe was telling me to keep going.
When you choose to interpret signs in a positive light, they can actually reinforce your commitment—as if something bigger than yourself is telling you this is “the one.” Now, it may be true that my project is a rip-off (even though I didn’t know it before I started), and maybe I won’t be able to publish it for that or any number of other reasons. But the important thing is that I kept writing, when a month ago a doubt like that would have stopped me cold. And I have a finished draft, an accomplishment in and of itself.
Signs work best if you can always interpret even the darkest signs positively, rather than letting negative signs get you down. This is the case when you know that your conscious mind and your own desires are stronger than anything the universe can throw at you, so that it’s not even about the signs at all. It’s about what you want, and your ability to go after it no matter what.
So this little “trick” is for those out there who can be optimistic, and not recommended for anyone who might think that a negative sign (like the power going out as you start to write, or someone else eating your saved piece of pie, or any other silly little thing I like to use as signs) is a reason to stop. Any negative signs are a chance to prove that you are stronger than signs—which ultimately makes them pointless, I realize, but here is how I look at it:
Positive signs confirm that the universe wants you to make it, and continuing on through negative signs confirms that you are stronger even than the universe, stronger than anything out there, stronger than doubt itself.
Power either way… and silliness all around. 🙂