Learning to Yield

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The other night I came across an inspiring post by author Jane Kirkpatrick about how the acronym YIELD can be used to show us how to find happiness as writers. Check it out. I’ll wait.

Are you back? It’s great stuff, right? Well, it got me to thinking about the concept of “yielding” and how it fits into our lives as readers, writers, and human beings. Warning: philosophizing ahead.

When we hear the word yield, we may think of the big yellow traffic signs that (in America, at least) urge us to slow down and give right of way to others before continuing on. But that’s only one connotation of the word. It can also mean to accept defeat or to give in to someone/something that is stronger.

In our hectic world, where we fight from the moment we wake up until the moment when we fall asleep again, sometimes what we need is to yield, to give in to the bigger flow for a while and let it carry us.

  • As WRITERS we need to yield to the muse. When she’s there, let her take over our busy lives and make magic. When she’s not and the well is dry, we may just need to take a break (says the girl who can’t handle not writing).
  • As WRITERS sometimes we need to yield to our characters and let them tell their stories. I’ve found some of my best writing comes when a character does or says something I didn’t plan.
  • As WRITERS we need to know when to yield to the end, whether that means a story is ready for publication (enough tinkering already!) or that it is time to shelve it and accept failure as part of the learning process.
  • As READERS sometimes we just need to yield to a story and let it take us where it will. Stop trying to guess the ending or wish certain fates for the characters and just fall into the flow of great writing.
  • As READERS we should yield to will of the author. Story didn’t turn out the way you wanted? Complain all you want (privately), but don’t act like the author wronged you. It’s their story, not yours. They have invited you to participate in it by reading it.
  • Remember the big yellow sign? As PEOPLE we need to learn to look out for others and sometimes give them the right of way, even if they are wrong. (Says the perfectionist narcissist.)
  • As PEOPLE, we need to take time off from fighting the good fight once in a while and just go where God/goddess/fate/the universe/whatever-you-call-it wants us to go. I’ve found that on the rare occasions when I stop struggling and let it be, I’m happier and healthier, plus things manage to work out without my effort. (Gasp!)
  • As PEOPLE we need to realize that no matter what society demands, we can’t do it all. If the laundry doesn’t get done this week or the house doesn’t get cleaned, so what? Sometimes we need to acknowledge our limitations and yield to the notion that we’ve done our best and that is enough.

I guess what I’m advocating is giving up some of this control that society seems obsessed with. I’m the first person to believe that in order make your dreams come true you have to work for them, physically, mentally and spiritually (I’m a believer in the art of manifestation), but I also know there is a time when we have to recover from all that work.

For me, yielding means different things: maybe it’s taking a break between projects or mulling over a plot point I’m stuck on, picking up a book and reading just for the fun of it (reading as a reader, not a writer) or even just letting that crabby co-worker down the hall think she’s right. And sometimes it means admitting I’m sick and therefore can’t do what I’d planned, or that I won’t make a deadline.

But you know what? In the end, yielding is just as important as striving. It’s the other side of the coin that allows things to come to fruition. It’s the winter to summer, the period of rest that lets us gear up for the next big fight. And that’s okay.

What do you think about the idea of yielding? Do you find it easy or difficult? What do you do doing those fallow periods in life? How do you think we as writers/readers/people need to yield?

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