This weekend I had one of those experiences where the Universe seems to be steering you in a particular direction. Whether this is purely coincidental or whether there is some higher power providing things for us when we most need them is open to debate. From past experience though these things happen when we take action towards our dreams or goals – that’s when the Universe or God or Serendipity (call it what you will) steps in and reveals things to us that we need to continue on our path.

So here’s my serendipitous writing tale:

After submitting my manuscript to a publisher a month ago I took a break from writing to clear up the clutter that had filled up my life, both literally and metaphorically. Well, that was the idea anyway but what I did instead was wallow around in the clutter getting nowhere, as if the mess was going to magically clean itself up. The house was full of piles of washing, ironing, paper, unread books, junk that should have been recycled or thrown away years ago, a room that had been painted but no furniture put back in, clothes that needed to be thrown away – you get the picture. My desk was piled high with notes that needed sorting, papers that needed to be filed and an assortment of other “essentials” I just couldn’t part with. But I couldn’t actually use my desk or computer while the piles grew ever higher either.

Emotionally there were issues to be sorted as well. Family relationships that were more than a little fractured, too many commitments and not enough time or head-space to get through them, the fear that the publisher will reject my manuscript and of course the fear that the next book – the one I’ve been putting off starting until I sort all of this other stuff will never be good enough either.

So what did I do about it all? For starters I sat down and wrote some goals. Always a good place to begin, as long as you actually follow up with some action that might help you achieve them. Setting the goals is the easy part – doing the follow up is the tricky bit. I broke the goals down from Life Goals, to Ten Year Goals to Five Year and then One Year. Then of course the weekly and daily goals. Having lists of things you need to get through, ticking them off as you do or moving them onto the next page helps you keep control of it all and gives you a sense of achievement. It’s a process you have to be fairly strict about but if you do it works.

Then I spent an entire day tackling the house. Piles were sorted, recycling boxes filled, surfaces cleared, clothes washed (yet to be ironed – blahhh), floors vacuumed and that freshly painted empty room was re-filled, all its previous clutter removed so I could walk in there without my entire body constricting with tension. My desk became visible again and sitting at my computer became once again a pleasure.

I sat myself down and sorted out some of that emotionally draining family stuff that seems to completely cripple you. It involved talking to loved ones about how I was feeling as well as a couple of other wise souls but the act of sharing those feelings and once again taking some action to improve the situation definitely helped.

There’s still work to be done in all of these areas of course but the sense of relief that taking action creates allows you to relax and feel a sense of progress. It allows you to free up your creative space as well, helping you to develop new ideas and be open to possibilities.

That’s where the Universe stepped in. Having done a rough outline for my new novel, a follow up to the first, I felt stuck on a few plot issues and was resisting actually starting the writing itself. Yesterday I flicked through the Good Weekend in The Sydney Morning Herald to find an article called Horses For Causes. It’s about how horses and humans  traumatised by the Black Saturday fires are finding comfort in each other though a new therapy program.

Check out this video on how the therapy works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnNDIPJOO5s&feature=youtu.be

The link to my novel could not have been more perfect. I’d been trying to work out how to continue the horse theme raised in the first novel and develop it further. As I read the article the wheels in my head spun faster and faster churning out a range of new ideas for the book. Here was the material I needed to get me started. In a sense this is what I had been waiting for.

But would I have found it if I hadn’t taken positive steps to clearing up my mental and physical clutter first? Possibly but perhaps it might not have had the same resonance or maybe I wouldn’t have slowed down enough to open the magazine in the first place.

Either way the combination of taking action, establishing goals and being open to what the Universe is offerring has definitely worked for me this week. I’m about to start work on that new book, things are improving on the home front and I’m even feeling more optimistic about the possibility of that book being published.

I’d love to hear about your experiences in this area.

Has “the universe” ever provided writing material for you?

How has setting goals helped you out of writing (and life) doldrums?