Escaping Slavery In Writing
By Ilana R. Wieder
In this week’s Torah portion, Shemot, a new Pharaoh arises above Egypt. Unlike the previous Pharaoh who kindly welcomed the Jews into Egypt, this Pharaoh enslaved the Jews. He tricked them into getting “paid” jobs, and then forced them to do these jobs without pay. This is when the famous burning bush scene comes in. God appears to Moses in the burning bush, and tells him to free the Israelites.
Last year, I wrote and directed a Purim play for my synagogue. A Fiddler on the Roof spin-off called Mordechai on the Roof. I started writing in September and had to complete it by December. In the four months of writing, I felt increasing stress. I loved writing the play and I knew it will bring joy to others, but I focused on writing “perfect scenes” so much, that I forgot to enjoy the creative process.
My son was very excited to get a part in the play. As a result, he nudged me constantly to show him every new scene I wrote. “I don’t mind if it’s just the first draft,” He’d say. The pressure to write a funny or a witty play increased with time and without my awareness. Night after late night, I stayed awake, writing. The following days, I decided to miss out on fun family outings and nourishing time out in nature.
The stress only increased, when I began directing the play. I had to navigate rehearsal space and manage people’s schedule, making sure everyone stays healthy as Covid was still making its rounds. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the process. As you can read in my post, Gifts From the Heart, there was a real sense of community and the show was great success. But that did not relieve the stress I felt on a daily basis.
One day, my son asked me, “Are you having as much fun writing the play as I am playing in it?” That was when I paused. I realized that I’ve been a slave to my writing. Allowing stress to be my boss, instead of enjoying the process. I stopped what I was doing and took him out for a frozen yogurt.
I love writing. It gives me a platform to express my creativity and write the world I wish we could all live in. This year, my commitment to writing is to only do it when it brings me joy. I want to free myself from my own slavery. I vow to take much needed breaks, spend time with family and enjoy time out in nature. Doing this will infuse me with more motivation and inspiration when I get back to my writing. All of us can free ourselves from the stress of having a perfect product and enjoy the creative process in 2024!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
For further reading of the Torah portion, Shemot, please click here: