Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

So far we’ve considered how a successful writer:

Now let’s consider how a successful writer deals with the fears and barriers that will inevitably come in the writing life.

Defining Your Fear

While every writer will face some kind of fear in their writing life – be it the fear of failure, the fear of making mistakes, or the fear of what others will say about their writing – each writer is different.

The subject of writing fears and barriers deserves a book of its own, so we’ll only cover the topic briefly here. If you wish to read more on the subject, try The Writer’s Portable Therapist by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

Firstly, let’s define the two terms we’re using here:

  • Fear: In this book, when we refer to fear we’re usually talking about the worry or anxiety caused by perceived:
    • Difficulty,
    • Danger,
    • Potential for embarrassment, or
    • Potential for hurt or heart ache.
  • Barrier: A problem (perhaps caused by fear or a self-imposed limitation) that prevents you progressing with your writing project.

As we already mentioned, the fears and barriers that each writer faces will be unique to them. Our fears and barriers are influenced by our:

  • Upbringing,
  • Life experiences,
  • Beliefs (including the way we perceive the world), and
  • Habits.

What are your personal fears and barriers? You may already know, or you may need a little help to describe the feelings and thoughts you encounter on a regular basis.

Before you read further, jot down on a piece of paper the fears and barriers you feel you’re facing in your writing life.

If you’re not sure what to write, then try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What thoughts go through my head when I sit down to write?
  • Am I embarrassed to call myself a writer? If so, why?
  • What is the hardest part of writing for me personally?
  • What’s the worst thing someone could say to me about my writing?

Notice any reoccurring thoughts or words. Also notice how you feel as you write. Do your muscles tense up when you think about certain aspects of your writing? Do you feel your gut tightening when you approach certain situations?

You may be surprised at the things that concern you.

*****

Add your comment below. What fears are you facing in your writing life?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – The Independent Writer (Part 3)

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This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read the first two parts of this chapter here and here.

Taking Control of Your Writing Life

The independent writer views their writing life as something they have control over.

  • If they don’t know enough information on the subject they are writing about, they will do some research.
  • If they have a weakness in their writing style, they will read writing books, take classes or do writing exercises to improve in that area.
  • If they are having trouble with a particular scene or writing project, they will turn to beta readers or an editor for further help.
  • If they aren’t able to learn a skill themselves, they will enlist the services of someone who can.

While this kind of writer understands that they have limitations, they do not allow these limitations to hold them back. They view the limitations as things to be compensated for, not as things that hinder them from reaching their goals.

They create a support structure of fellow writers, enthusiastic readers and other skilled people whom they can call on to fill specific roles in their writing journey.

Take a few minutes to consider the support structure you currently have in place. A good support structure may include:

  • A writing mentor – A more experienced writer who is able to guide you to improve in your writing and remind you of the progress you have made.
  • An editor – This may be a professional editor, or simply an eagle-eyed friend who is able to pick up on your mistakes.
  • Beta readers – People who are willing to read your writing and offer feedback. Ideally they should match your target audience. (We will look at more about target audiences later.)
  • Fellow Writers – These may be found in writing groups or online. They can offer sympathy, encouragement and advice.

Each of these support people plays a different role and fills an important need in your writing life. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help you with areas you may be struggling with, so reach out and begin building your support structure.

Writing For Beauty, Not Perfection

An independent writer does not aim for perfection. They realize perfection is unattainable. Instead, they aim for beauty – a symmetry, trueness, depth or hue to their writing that is both faithful to their writing voice and appealing to their target audience.

This mindset is not only helpful when approaching the blank page, but also when making writing decisions.

There are many decisions involved in the writing life, from choice of genre to the placement of commas. The independent writer not only understands that they are responsible for making these decisions, but realizes that for many of these decisions there is no black and white answer.

They will work through their options for each decision and choose what they feel is best for the story.

We will continue to refer back to the phrase ‘writing for beauty, not perfection’ throughout this book to encourage you to be more relaxed and creative in your writing. 

Process Oriented Rather that Product Oriented

While writers usually work towards producing an end result – a book, a poem or simply the perfect paragraph – independent writers separate themselves from their writing.

They are a writer: They produce. Their writing is the production.

While they may be very enamored with the end product, they spend most of their time focused on the act of producing – the writing, research and editing that goes into that product and all that follow – instead of becoming bogged down in a single work.

Being process oriented rather than product oriented helps the writer:

  • Evaluate their writing,
  • Make needed adjustments to their work in progress,
  • Cope with feedback and criticism, and
  • Move on from a completed project to start afresh on a new work.

It also helps a writer adjust to changes life may throw at them. For example, perhaps due to a change in work schedule and increased deadline pressure a writer may temporarily be unable to work on his novel. Instead of focusing on what his is no longer able to do (product oriented) the writer can choose to move his focus to journaling or writing short stories for a few months (process oriented).

We will return to this concept later on in this book, as it is very helpful for coping with some of the stressors integral to the writing life.
*****

Add your comment below. What support structure do you have in place for your writing life?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – The Independent Writer (Part 2)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

Avoiding Self-Defeating Thoughts

Here are some more truisms about the writing life:

  • Writers are usually their own harshest critics.
  • Doing something courageous means facing a certain level of fear.

Because of these two things, writers can often become timid, frustrated and even overwhelmed by the stresses involved in creating their work and sending it out into the world.

Common thoughts among these writers are:

  • I don’t have anything worth writing about.
  • I’m never going to amount to anything.
  • What if I can’t find an agent? Or a publisher? What if no one wants to read what I’ve written?
  • What if people ridicule me?

These destructive thoughts roam through the writer’s mind, quashing any motivation and remaining unanswered by positive rebuttals.

A necessary step in creating a successful writing mindset is to capture these thoughts and deal with them.

Capturing Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts can pass so quickly through our minds that we may not recognized they’ve even been there. Writing about our concerns and worries often coaxes those thoughts back to the surface so we can start to understand why we’re feeling stressed or negative.

Freewriting is a wonderful tool at the Independent Writer’s disposal. It involves setting yourself a specific period of time and writing without stopping until the time has elapsed. This method encourages your mind to continue putting out words, even if you consciously feel you have nothing more to say.

Writing a stream of consciousness (recording the thoughts as they pass through your mind) provides you with an opportunity to see what your mind is doing. You may see how one thought leads to another – how the simplest of negative comments can grow within your mind until you feel unworthy or unable to write.

Recording these thoughts then allows you to work through each negative point.

Refuting Negative Thoughts

In the next chapter we will cover some specific negative thoughts you may have about your writing and the methods you can use to refute them. In the meantime, start taking note of your common thinking patterns and look for logical responses that will help you bring an end to the chain of thoughts that are causing you stress in your writing life.
*****

Add your comment below. What self-defeating thoughts have you faced as a writer?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – The Independent Writer (Part 1)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

So now our understanding of what is involved in being a writer and how that role affects your life is growing. We are starting to see the writing life as a journey – an adventure full of enjoyment and discovery.

A writer is an explorer – both of the world around them and of their own inner workings. A key part of being this adventurous explorer is an independent mindset.

When using the term ‘independent,’ I’m not talking about writers who self-publish (sometimes known as indie writers/publishers) – I’m talking about writers in general.

By using the term ‘independent,’ I am describing a writer who takes her writing life into her own hands – a self-reliant and perhaps relatively self-sufficient person who is able to make consistent progress towards her goals. A true explorer.

Successful writers are self-motivated – they set goals and work towards them until they reach the finish. How do they create that mindset? Let’s look a little deeper.

Finding the Right Fit for You

First, here’s an important truth: Being a writer will mean different things to different people.

  • Some people will feel that the writing life involves large word counts and many published works.
  • Others will feel that their writing life involves carefully crafting each project they work on, no matter how long each takes.

Living life as a writer starts with you understanding what kind of a writer you are.

Each writer is unique – that includes you. While there will be times when you’ll want to pick up tips and tricks from your favourite writers, the most important writer to understand and imitate is you.

As you read through these chapters, there will be points that resonate with you – that jump out and say, “This is just what you need!” – and there will be others that might not sit quite right with you.

Approach each point as a suggestion, one you can experiment with and incorporate into your habits if you wish. But in the process, be aware of the impact each little change has on you.

Notice the following and ask yourself these questions:

  • Habits – Does this piece of advice help me write regularly? Does it encourage me to move forward on my projects?
  • Mindset – Does this change make me feel positive, or is it bringing up worries and stresses that are having a negative effect on me?
  • Output – Am I writing more because of this change? Is my work improving? Or am I sacrificing my voice in an attempt to measure up to someone else’s ideals?

Being a writer means first understanding yourself.

While there is plenty of good advice in writing blogs and writing books, your writing gut is also capable of giving advice. Just because a particularly prolific author writes his best work at 7am, or a well-known creative writer outlines her entire novel before she starts drafting, does not mean the same will hold true for you.

An independent writer understands how her writing process works, and is able to maintain the habits and rhythms that bring about that process.

She keeps track of the writing advice that improves her writing process, and disregards suggestions that don’t work for her.

If something goes wrong with her writing process, the independent writer is able to deconstruct her writing life to pinpoint the problem and change whatever needs to be altering in order to restore writing equilibrium.

This takes confidence, self-belief and attention, but it is an essential element of being an independent writer.

*****

Add your comment below. What writing advice works for you? What writing advice doesn’t work for you?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – When Life Creates Factors Beyond Your Control

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This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

(I’ve been battling with a viral infection for the past six days so the post below was a subject close to my heart this week. I’m also guest posting over at Helping Writers Become Authors today on the subject Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing. For the record, I wrote the guest post before I came down with the flu.)

Every writer must come to terms with the fact that there will be times when it is not possible to write due to factors beyond your control.

Factors Beyond Your Control

The complications of life vary from person to person. Here are a few examples of factors that may impact your writing life.

Illness

Be it the common cold or something far more serious, illness negatively impacts our lives and causes stress.

The rule of thumb usually is: If you’re too ill to work, you’re probably too ill to write. No amount of positive thinking can clear your mind of a head cold or lift the genuine fatigue of sickness. Your body requires energy to recover and heal.

Medication

Some forms of medication can have a negative impact on your creative skills.

Medication that causes drowsiness, nausea or brain fog will likely interfere with your ability to write. There is often little you can do about this, especially if the medication is essential for your health.

Grief

Dealing with intense emotions can leave you numb and exhausted.

Grief comes in many types, whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship or even the loss of a potential future. Grieving is a process your body and mind needs to go through in order to heal and during that time you may find your ability to enjoy other activities is limited.

Children

Raising children impacts every part of your life – especially activities that require ‘me time.’

Being continually on call with a million little jobs to do means it can be very difficult (if not impossible) to focus your attention on a writing project long enough to make meaningful progress. It may even be necessary to put certain creative projects on hold until your family situation changes.

These are just a few examples of stressors many of us face. Your life may present you with other stressful challenges that are beyond your control – perhaps difficult living arrangements or a challenging job. But just because these factors impact your ability to write doesn’t mean you should just throw up our hands and give up on writing.

How to Cope

What can you do to cope with these influences in your writing life? Here are five suggestions.

Don’t ‘Should’ Yourself

‘Should’ can be a motivational word at times, but it can also be dangerously hurtful. Telling ourselves we ‘should be writing more’ or ‘shouldn’t be letting this affect us’ only serves to cause frustration. Just because one writer can pump out novels while caring for a house full of toddlers does not mean you ‘should’ be able to do just the same while caring for your three-year-old.

Rather that beating yourself up over what you can’t accomplish at the moment (because there will always be things you realistically can’t accomplish at this point in time), it’s far better to focus on what you feel like doing. If your body or mind doesn’t feel up to writing, then ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?

When dealing with illness and grief, it’s often important to follow what your body is telling you. If your body needs to rest, then allow it time to heal so that you can return to writing in the future.

Redirect Your Energies

If you’re not able to write, could you perhaps spend your time feeding your Creativity with reading material and movies?

When I am too ill to leave the couch, I imagine myself as a caterpillar curled up in a cocoon. I transform myself with the books I read, the movies I watch and the ideas I toy with. When I can finally return to my desk, I am filled with fresh thoughts and vibrant new plans so I can plunge straight back into action.

Remember, ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?” Follow the answer. Paint. Sew. Draw. Cook. Allow yourself the room to be creative through whatever method your body and mind sees fit.

Write ‘Inwards’ Instead of ‘Outwards’

The act of writing provides us with one of the best coping mechanisms – it allows us to disgorge our thoughts onto the page, leaving room in our heads to cope with the situation.

As writers, we often write ‘outwards’ in that we expect our words will at some point be read by others. That can impede our honesty with the page, especially if we’re suffering with grief or other strong emotions we may not want to share with others.

Writing ‘inwards’ – perhaps in a journal or in personal letters – allows the act of writing to nurture us and help our healing without having to worry about what other readers will think.

Record What You Have Accomplished

During periods of increased stress, we may not be able to meet our writing expectations. Our word count may drop. We may not be writing new words at all. Under those circumstances it’s very easy to become discouraged – believing we have accomplished nothing.

Instead of allowing your mind to dwell on the things you haven’t done, make a list of things you have accomplished no matter how small. In fact, make sure to especially list the small accomplishments.

Perhaps getting out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment. Note it down. Maybe reading a page from your favourite book is an accomplishment. Note it down. Finding an inspirational quote on Pinterest could be an accomplishment. Note it down!

Fill your list with the smallest accomplishments and then congratulate yourself on each one.

Look Forwards and Continually Re-Evaluate

Just because your current situation is having a negative impact on your writing life, doesn’t necessarily mean it will always be this way.

Many of the stressful factors beyond our control will change in time, even if we don’t expect them to. An illness may pass. A new opportunity may come along. Our body and mind may grow stronger. Children go to school or leave home.

Continue to ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?” It will change from day to day. Keep asking.

*****

Add your comment below. How do you cope with stressors beyond your control?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


8 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 3)

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This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read Part 1 of this chapter here, and Part 2 of this chapter here.

Writing Feeds Your Life

While your life feeds your writing, it can also be said that writing feeds your life – it gives back to you in so many ways.

For example, it can give you:

  • A feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
  • A creative outlet for the inspirations and frustrations of your life.
  • An imaginative (and often compassionate) perspective on the events you witness.

Many writers find themselves feeling happier and healthier when they’re able to maintain a regular writing schedule. It nourishes their creative side, even giving them extra energy and motivation.

You may experience similar benefits when you write, but you may not have realised the connection until now.

So take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

  • When I’m writing regularly, how do I feel for the rest of the day?
  • Conversely, when I’m not able to write for a few days, how does that affect my mood and motivation?

The answers may surprise you.

Knowing that you’re a writer, and that you’ll therefore need writing fodder, can also influence the life decisions you make.

Here’s an example.

Choosing the Adventurous Path

No matter whether you’re a world traveler or so ill you’re confined to bed, a writer chooses adventure.

What do I mean?

A writer is someone who is curious – who wants to make sense of the world with their words. They are always searching for a way to take what they experience and transfer it onto the page.

They look for answers to questions that have never been asked. They find information and interpret it in fresh and interesting ways.

They explore new places, whether those places are actual locations or simply recesses of the mind.

They are constantly on the lookout for something to capture their attention.

This drive encourages them to ask questions like ‘what if?’ and ‘why?’ in the hope of discovery.

This curiosity and adventurous spirit leads them on many journeys – some of which only a writer could travel.

Taking the Writer’s Journey

Making writing a part of your life changes the way you view your role as a writer.

The term ‘writer’ is no longer something you need to achieve or earn, be it with a published work or a five star review. Rather, it comes to describe an element of you as a person, in the same way as terms like ‘daughter,’ ‘optimist,’ or ‘mango-lover’ may describe you.

The act of writing initiates a journey that you will continue for the rest of your life. There is no fixed destination, simply the wonderful sights and surprises you will pass in your travels as you investigate each fork in the road.

Understanding the Possibilities of a Writer’s Life

As you can see, the life of a writer does not just involve sitting down to a page and writing. It infuses every part of your life with a curiosity and depth of understanding.

We’ve covered a lot in this chapter, and plenty of it is theory. If you only walk away with one point, let it be this:

Writing does not need to be a chore. It can, and should, be a joy.

Too often we are exposed to the clichéd idea of what a writer should be. It sounds something like this:

Writers are recluses, socially inept introverts (who can even turn into hermits if they are not monitored).

They ponder things deeply, making them boring party companions and even worse spouses. They earn little and spend most of their time battling with writer’s block. They drink unhealthy amounts of coffee and while away their afternoons on park benches.

When things go badly, they become melancholic, turn to alcohol and eventually end up mentally unbalanced or contemplating suicide.

But as we have seen in this chapter, the realities of a writer’s life should be far different. You may feel something like the following description is a better fit:

A writer is a person who embraces life – who seeks to experience it in all its colours, complexities and inconsistencies in order to capture it on paper. They absorb information through all their senses, and constantly search for fresh sources of inspiration.

They make wonderful party companions because they seek to understand other people’s points of view. They enrich the lives of those they are close to by earning people’s friendship and respect. They spend most of their time jotting down ideas and words – after which they reward themselves with chocolate and walks in the park.

When things go badly, they find fresh perspectives and turn negatives into positives. They are hardy people, who make the world a better place with their words.

Doesn’t that sound like a happy and healthy person?

The writing life should be enjoyed, not endured. You do not need to suffer for your art. You can delight in your life and allow your writing to take you to mysterious, incredible and inspiring locations – whether they be real or simply in your imagination.

Now, let’s continue working together to help you find joy in your writing.
*****

Add your comment below. How does writing feed your life? How would you describe your writing life?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


7 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 2)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read the first part of this chapter here.

Life Feeds Your Writing

Some people like to keep their writing and their everyday life separate. Work, family and other responsibilities are in a completely different category to the act of writing (which may only be performed in the very early hours of the morning or in the depths of the night).

But living life as a writer means that your life feeds your writing. Once you recognize yourself as a writer and relax into that role, you will find yourself interacting with the world in ways that enhance your writing.

Here are a few examples of how your life can infuse your writing.

Embracing Details

As a writer, the world around you acts as your personal database of details. This includes the:

  • People you meet,
  • Places you visit,
  • Words you encounter,
  • Emotions you experience,
  • Food you taste,
  • Textures you touch,
  • Sounds you hear, and
  • Aromas you smell.

The act of writing is often simply the capturing of a truth and transcribing it onto the page. Every day you encounter the truths in your world – from the words your children mispronounce to the softness of your favourite beach towel. Each of these details is precious and will potentially find its way one day into your writing.

The details you notice will be unique to you. Different writers notice different things. Some focus on place. Others pick up on the nuances of personal interactions. Still others translate the emotions they experience into the food they crave.

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you have to describe everything or notice everything, but an awareness of details brings a richness and depth to your work.

It also enables you to have information ready to hand when you sit down to write. The small details stored away in the back of your mind come to life as you describe the smell of a rose or the crunch of ice in your character’s mouth.

Noticing Themes Around You

Part of the reason words may bubble inside you is because you seek to express your feelings on a subject you are passionate about. Perhaps a particular historical era interests you. Maybe you wish to explain the injustices you’ve seen in the world. Or you might wish to provide a voice to a group of people you feel have been misunderstood.

These writing themes can be found all around us as we interact with the world every day. Just being present as a writer and paying attention to your surroundings can give you the opportunity to discover the words you need to bring that subject to the page.

Some themes you might encounter are:

  • Love
  • Injustice
  • Misunderstandings
  • Human rights
  • Cultural differences
  • Disabilities
  • Politics
  • History
  • War
  • Childhood

The list is as long as you make it. Each of these can drive you to the page in search of a way to express your thoughts and feelings on the matter.

You may be looking for a way to:

  • Make sense of the world.
  • Explain the other side of the story.
  • Envision an alternate history.
  • Motivate people to change.
  • Share your experiences.
  • Provide an escape.

All of these are strong reasons to write – and they will form words within you until you just have to write.

These are just two examples of how your life can feed your writing. You personally may experience many more examples. The point is, by allowing yourself to interact with the world as a writer you open up a vast array of opportunities for words to form within you and begin to bubble.

*****

Tune in next week for more of this chapter.

In the meantime, please add your comment below. How does your life feed your writing?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


10 Comments

De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 1)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

So we have our most basic definition of a writer as being ‘a person who writes.’

Is this now the part where we start talking about word counts, grammar rules and plot points?

No.

In fact, did you feel your stomach tighten when I mentioned those three things? Did you start to feel a heaviness come over you?

The writing life often causes stress because, as writers, we feel the need to fill a certain quota of words in order to qualify for the title, or obey specific writing rules, or conform to a pre-set structure.

Doesn’t writing involve at least some of that?” you may ask.

Maybe. But we’re going to ignore that for the moment.

Instead, I want you to focus on the act of being a writer. And I want you to focus on that role without actually writing anything until you want to – until you are drawn to the page. I don’t want you to write a single word until you feel the words within you itching to get out.

Does that sound a little strange?

I have my reasons. Would you like to know what they are?

The Bubbling of Words

Too often we view writing as a chore. Perhaps this happens during our school years where we are forced to meet word counts and create essays on subjects that hold very little interest for us. Writing becomes about the end result rather than the joy of the process.

Yes, the process should be a joy. For many writers, the act of writing is a fulfilling activity they look forward to.

“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.” Sharon O’Brien

As a writer, you too can find the sweet spot within you where words seem to force themselves out through your fingertips, rather than you having to go in search of them.

The sustainable writer is one who has plenty of places her writing could take her – perhaps too many to properly pursue in her lifetime. Words are her constant companions, the means by which she describes and understands her world.

Writing becomes as natural, and as necessary, as breathing. At that point, sitting down to the page and writing is the equivalent of sitting down and taking a few deliberate breaths.

For me, the sensation is one of words bubbling up inside of me until they have to come out. In fact, the thing that finally motivated me to switch from hunt-and-peck typing to touch typing was the drive to find a way for my fingers to keep up with my brain.

So how does this bubbling come about?

The secret is to first understand your mental, emotional and creative needs, and then actively fill those needs.

For me personally, I need the following things:

  • A belief in myself that I am a writer and my words are worthwhile.
  • A belief that my words never have to be perfect, but just have to exist.
  • A regular creative routine which encourages me to turn up to the page every morning.
  • Fascinating facts and people to fill me with writing ideas.

You may find your list is similar, or there may be other elements that specifically apply to your situation.

We will focus on the positive beliefs and creative routine in future chapters. For the moment, let’s look at the last element mentioned – the idea fodder.

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Tune in next week for the next instalment of this chapter.

In the meantime, please add your comment below. What are your mental, emotional and creative needs? How do you keep your words joyfully bubbling inside you?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

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De-Stress Your Writing Life – A Writer is a Person Who Writes (Part 2)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

You Don’t Have to be an Expert in Anything

You might be thinking, but I don’t have special knowledge about anything. Why would anyone want to read what I write?

Let me lay out some interesting thoughts for you:

  • The act of writing is often more about the emotion behind the facts than the facts themselves. Sure, facts are important, but there are always books, websites and people you can consult to learn more about a subject. You don’t need a fancy degree or special training to feel emotions. If you’re human, you’ve got all you need.
  • In reality, very few people (if any) have learned everything there is to know about a subject. An expert is simply someone who knows more about the subject than those around them. Everyone has something they could call themselves an expert in – whether it be horse training, flower arranging or lancing boils. Sometimes the smallest of experiences can technically make you an ‘expert.’
  • Someone with specialized knowledge in one field often has very little knowledge in other areas. A writer, on the other hand, tries to know a little bit about everything. When it comes to information, it’s far better to know a little piece of everything than to know everything about just a little piece.
  • Fresh eyes on a subject can lead to better writing in the long run. An expert can miss the obvious when explaining things to the uninitiated. Someone who has had to learn the ropes from a clean slate often understands how best to explain the subject to those who follow.
  • Good writers are always learning. There is a wealth of information out there at our fingertips. If you need to find out specific facts, there are always avenues you can pursue. So start writing your passion and then research as needed.

What about becoming an expert in writing itself? While there are many qualifications you can get for writing, most writers learn simply by practicing the act of writing. There are plenty of books and blogs on the subject which can provide you further information, and many writers offer coaching or editing services for a fee.

But when it comes right down to it, each manuscript you work through will provide you with more experience, leading you to become an expert in the more important aspect of all – your writing and creative process.

You don’t need qualifications or special knowledge to start stringing words together. Just do it and see what happens.

You Don’t Have to be a Recluse

You do not have to wall yourself off from society or deliberately strand yourself in the middle of the Pacific to get in touch with your inner muse.

While it is true that the writing life can be solitary at times as one beavers away at the latest work in progress, contact with the world at large is encouraged – for your mental health if nothing else.

Many writers work their magic on the page during lunch breaks, kiddies football matches and in those wee hours between dawn and breakfast. They still interact with their family, some hold down day jobs and the majority are addicted to social networks.

It is possible to continue a ‘normal’ life while feeding your love of writing.

You Don’t Have to be a Coffee Addict

Contrary to popular opinion (and classic writing cartoon strips), caffeine addiction is not a writing requirement. I myself am completely uncaffeinated and have been for years.

While I would be the first one to up and move my writing to a café for an afternoon (decaf latté please), these kind of beverages do not a writer make.

Grammar and spelling on the other hand…

Not All Writers are Weird

You do not need some strange personal fashion, hidden family skeleton or verbal tick to be a writer. Yes, writers can be quirky individuals, who stand out from a crowd and attract attention like vegemite attracts fruit flies, but most writers don’t look anything out of the ordinary. Chances are you walked past several on your way to work, sat next on one on the bus and lunched with at least one during your recent family get together.

There isn’t some special dress code or mandatory eccentricity rating you need to pass before being allowed to call yourself a writer. You can stay just the way you are.

So, are you convinced that the ranks of the literary are not that heavily policed? If you want to write, and you write regularly, then you are a writer!

The next question is: What is involved in being a writer?
*****

What’s holding you back from calling yourself a writer? Leave a comment below and let me know.

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

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De-Stress Your Writing Life – A Writer is a Person Who Writes (Part 1)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

I was in my mid-twenties when I made a shocking discovery: Not everyone wanted to be a writer when they grew up.

I thought dreaming of being a writer was as ubiquitous as wanting to be an astronaut or a ballerina. Didn’t everyone fall in love with the first typewriter they ever saw, copy their favourite books into notepads and ‘self-publish’ their work at age 5 with cardboard and sticky tape?

As it turns out, the answer is ‘no.’

Who knew?

With this discovery came a realisation: My childhood dream wasn’t just a childish notion. It was an insight into my true self. And I was in the happy position of being able to fulfil that dream.

How many people can say they accomplished a wish they had from childhood?

If you are reading this, then you have the urge inside you to write. Maybe it appeared early in your life, or maybe it’s just emerging now. The important thing to realise is: This urge is valid and deserves to be nurtured.

If you feel an affinity with the written word, then you have an exciting medium in which to express yourself. In our day and age, writing and have those words read by others is easier than ever.

I Put Words Together, Therefore I am a Writer

Before we go any further, let’s define the term ‘writer.’

The simplest definitions is: a person who writes.

It can’t really be that easy, you say. There’s much more to it. You have to take it seriously and have stuff actually published.

Those are all possible aspects of being a writer, but the term ‘writer’ at its most basic simply means ‘a person who writes,’ the same as a cleaner is a person who cleans, a planner is a person who plans and a drawer is a person who slides horizontally out of a desk or chest of…oh, wait, scratch that last one.

If you feel the need to write words, to express yourself in written form, then you are – at heart – a writer.

But aren’t there more requirements?

Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

You’re Never Too Young to Write

As soon as a person is old enough to start talking, they can start spinning stories.

One of my favourite literary treasures is a small, handmade booklet created by a close friend and her young daughter. My friend transcribed her daughter’s quirky but riveting story onto the pages and then they chose appropriate pictures to include. Yes, from the first sentence you can tell her age (not yet old enough to start school), but that doesn’t mean her words are any less valuable in the reader’s eyes – in fact it adds extra meaning to them.

Some might say that a young person cannot fully understand the world and therefore their writing will fall short of what their older counterparts accomplish. With all due respect, that’s complete hogwash for several reasons.

  • There is no reason why a young person’s voice is any less valid than an older person’s. They see things from a unique perspective. Yes, it may be naïve and perhaps even ill-informed, but it’s a voice that should be captured, if only so that person can look back on their words later in life.
  • A youthful perspective reveals aspects of a subject which may be missed by other writers. At the very least, their perspective may help older readers relate to a younger generation by seeing the world through their words. Young people also have a pure and innocent way of looking at the world which often shows fascinating depths to the subjects they cover.
  • What human has ever been able to fully understand the world? As we grow older, we will better understand certain aspects of life and the areas we live in, but we will never understand everything. If we’ve always lived in the same place, we won’t fully understand what it’s like to live in another country. If we’ve lived in other countries, we’ll never fully understand what it is like to spend our life in one spot. You see how it goes. We are all inexperienced in something, but that hasn’t held other people back. Why should it hold back the young?

Young people should be encouraged to share their stories and their writing voice. The earlier they start, the more opportunity they have to learn.

You’re Never Too Old to Write

If we flip the coin, similar things could be said about older people. An in-depth knowledge of technology is not necessary for writing. Remember the good ol’ paper and pen?

Older people have memories to record and insight to impart. Never sell yourself short by underestimating what you have accomplished in your life. Each lifetime has its own wealth of experience.

Writing also provides an important purpose in life. After retirement, it is common to feel a sense of loss from no longer being tethered to a day job. Starting on a writing project (memoir, novel, a collection of poems) can provide a new and exciting channel for your energies.

What if you’re not in the young category or the older category? If you haven’t got the message yet, let me say it again: There is no age limit to writing. If you’re breathing, you can be writing.

Tune in next week for the second half of this chapter.
*****

Do you call yourself a writer? What are some myths you’ve heard about the writing life? Leave a comment below and let me know.

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online