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Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

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You Too? What’s Your Writing Routine? (And a Giveaway!)

A woman writing in her diary.

Do you make an appointment with your writing? (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

It’s time for another ‘You Too?’ post, where I ask you a writing-related question and you share your thoughts.

Today’s post is about your writing routine.

There are so many suggestions out there about writing routines. Some people say get up early and write before your household wakes up. Others say ditch the evening television program and write instead. Some say you should write every day. Other say you should only write when you feel like it.

In my experience, each writer is different. There is no one-size-fits-all writing routine. There’s the routine that works for you on this project.

With that in mind, I’m really curious to find out about your personal writing routine.

So here are the questions:

  • When is your best writing time? Early morning? Late at night?
  • Do you write every day? Every second day? Just when the mood takes you?
  • Do you aim for a word count? Do you set a time limit?
  • Do you find your routine changes depending on what writing project you’re working on?

Please feel free to add any details about your writing routine in the comments. If you’ve got any tips on how you’ve sneaked extra writing time into your day, or found ways to improve the quality of your writing routine, we’re all ears!

This post is yours to take in whatever direction you feel like. Let’s start discussing!


Baverstock's Allsorts Cover Art

P.S. I’m almost ready to release Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1: A Collection of Short Stories. This week I’m giving away free copies of the e-book in exchange for honest reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. If you’re interested in getting a copy, e-mail me at jessica AT creativitysworkshop DOT com or leave a comment below and I’ll follow up with an e-mail.



De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Failure and Fear of the ‘Writer Stigma’

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. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Fear of Failure

None of us wants create something that doesn’t work, and so we naturally do all in our power to give our work its best chance at success. However, sometimes our attempts at avoiding failure can actually prevent us from making progress. In fact, at times our subconscious may believe that the best way to prevent failure is to prevent us from finishing.

The fear of failure can cause symptoms like:

  • Difficulty making progress in your novel.
  • Reluctance to try writing something new.
  • Procrastination or a slowing of progress as the end of the story approaches.
  • Becoming distracted by a new idea. (Yes, a plethora of ideas may actually indicate a hidden fear or barrier, e.g. fear of failure or a fear of completion.)
  • Continual rounds of minute edits in an attempt to get the manuscript just right.

We may find ourselves worrying about what others will think about our work, and at times become anxious wondering if we’ve actually accomplished what we set out to write.

In order to work past this fear, we need to come to terms with the following:

  • There is no such thing as perfect. Remember, aim for beauty, not perfection.
  • A missed typo isn’t the end of the world. Even the most polished books have tiny mistakes. Don’t sweat it. Do your best and then move on.
  • Stories are never really finished. There’s always something more you could tweak. Stop the endless revisions. Polish and then ship it. Send it out into the world and move on to the next thing.
  • The real failure is never attempting something. If you’ve given something a go, then you’ve achieved success. Even if it didn’t turn out as you expected, you were adventurous and you learned along the way.

Some writers view the fear of failure as a good thing, even a marker that they’re on the right track. If they aren’t facing the possibility of failure then their project isn’t unique and interesting enough.

Failure isn’t the terrible thing it first appears, it’s simply the moment you discover something didn’t turn out quite as you planned. That may be a temporary disappointment or it may be an opportunity to learn a new way of doing something.

Whatever the outcome, it isn’t fatal (at least not in writing). So embrace the possibility of failure and keep going. It means you’re trying something worth doing.

Fear of the Writer Stigma

Some writers do not like calling themselves ‘writers’ because they worry what other people will think. They dread questions people may ask them about their writing, and they worry about how people view writers.

This fear shows itself in various ways, like:

  • Refusal to use the term ‘writer’ when talking to others.
  • Embarrassment to admit you spend your free time writing.
  • Nervousness at gatherings where the topic of ‘What do you do for a living/hobby?’ may come up.

What you call yourself and your writing is up to you. Some writers prefer the term ‘author’ while others gravitate towards ‘storyteller.’

What’s most important is becoming relaxed and confident in yourself as a writer. Often our fear of what others think about us and our writing is actually a reflection of how we view ourselves and our writing. If we’re not comfortable being thought of as a writer others will pick up on that discomfort.

To overcome this fear, you could try the following:

  • Begin calling yourself a writer when no one is around. Create a sign or a poster saying, “I am a writer.” Put up on your door or next to your computer – somewhere you will see it regularly. Become comfortable telling yourself you’re a writer.
  • Make a list of the questions you’re afraid to answer. Your list may include questions like, “What have you had published?” and “What kind of things do you write?”
  • Think of answers to the problem questions. Consider how you could answer each question in a sentence or two. For example, “I’m working towards publication at the moment actually. I sent out a query letter just this week.”
  • Tell a stranger you are a writer. You may find telling a stranger is easier than telling a friend or family member. Next time you’re out shopping or at a party and a stranger asks you what you do, tell them you’re a writer. Notice their reaction. You might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Work your way up to telling a friend or family member. Remember, first you need to be comfortable identifying yourself as a writer. Feel confident and at ease with the word, then allow it to naturally flow into the conversation. Then note the reactions of those around you. They may be more at ease too.

Even if you still find people less than enthusiastic about your writing life, that’s okay. You don’t need their approval to enjoy your writing. You write because you love doing it, and that’s the sign of a real writer.


Add your comment below. What questions do you dread hearing? When someone asks you an awkward writing-related question, how do you respond?


Right now I’m extra busy preparing my e-book for publication, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

I’ve you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

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


How Healthy is Your Reading Diet?

Someone heading to bed with a good book and a bowl of cereal

“Good Night” by Leo Hidalgo via Flickr

Last week I mentioned this quote by Ray Bradbury:

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

Now if you’re a writer it’s understandable that you must write (we covered the writing diet in last week’s post), but must you read?

Ray Bradbury and many other successful authors say you do. Why? Because the words you take in as you read affect the words you write.

The reading diet isn’t just about picking up a good book and flicking through the pages. Notice Bradbury said, “Read intensely.” What does that mean?

It means savouring what you read, chewing it over in the mind and noticing the details from word choice to character development. Do you see why it’s called a diet?

Today we’ll cover the three aspects of a reading diet:

  • How often we read,
  • How much we read, and
  • What kind of books we’re reading.

Remember, everyone is different. The books and reading methods that appeal to me might not appeal to you, and vice versa. I’ve tried to keep the suggestions here as general as possible so you can tailor them to your own personal tastes.

Shall we get started?

How Often?

So how often should you read? Well, remember your reading diet depends on your personal needs. Some writers read every morning before they write. Others read on the weekends or just before they go to bed.

Once again, regularity is key. It is very easy for the creative well to run dry if you are not topping it up with regular input.

How do you know if you’re not reading enough? Here are some signs:

  • Difficulty finding the word you’re looking for. Reading provides you with a continual stream of words and often enlarges your vocabulary. If the words you use are shrinking, then you need to top yourself up with some reading.
  • Reoccurring cliches in your writing. Reading widely shows you what has already been done in your genre and demonstrates the inventive and unique places stories can go.
  • Lack of new ideas. If your Creativity’s excitement and output are starting to wane, it’s likely you’re not providing enough ‘idea juice’ for her/him. Keep the creative will filled.

If any of the above signs are sounding familiar, then the solution is to increase your reading time.

How Much?

What about how much you read? To determine this you need to take into consideration how long you read for and how fast you read.

When it comes to reading intensely, you want to read less and read it slowly. Too often we find ourselves pulled into a good book, turning the pages faster and faster as the plot progresses. That’s great if the aim of the reading is to enjoy the story, but as a writer you need to see more than just the scenery whizzing by.

Sometimes all you need is a single paragraph and ten minutes to pick it apart. Read slowly, deliberately, questioning each word you come to. Why did the writer choose that word? How is the writer directing the reader’s attention? What is the writer building towards?

You may even choose to read the passage out loud, listening to the lilt of the words so you can absorb the music inherent in the sentences.

What Kind?

Now, what kind of books should you be reading? The choices before you are countless. Does it matter what you pick up to read? Well, if your purpose is the “read intensely” and slowly, then you want to make sure you’re reading the right stuff.

First and foremost you want to make sure you’re reading quality work. Think back to the diet analogy. Whole foods are recommended over fast food. Why? Because they provide your body with the high-quality fuel it needs to operate efficiently. So while your favourite comic book might have some great one liners, for this diet you want to be sinking your reading teeth into something more filling.

Now this doesn’t mean you should go out and find yourself a dry and dense tome of a book and spend years poring over every single sentence of it. Look for books you enjoy reading but books that will challenge you.

Find books that you can learn from, whether it be new subjects, new words, new genres, new writing forms or just new perspectives. But don’t think that means you can only grab the latest book hot off the presses. These are things that are new to you. There are plenty of classic books, reaching back hundreds of years, that contain fresh and interesting writing for you to experience.

So, to recap, the reading diet is as follows:

  • Read regularly.
  • Read slowly.
  • Read good quality books you enjoy and that will teach you something new.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what’s on your reading list? What are your reading diet tips?

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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Fear of Starting and Fear of Getting Something Wrong

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. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.

Working Through Your Fears

Your writing fears and barriers are caused by thoughts and influences that are unique to you, therefore the solutions to those problems will be unique to you.

So while this section may not touch on your exact problem, it will cover the most common fears writers face and consider some common solutions that you can tailor to your own needs.

Fear of Starting

This is often known as ‘white page fright.’ The symptoms are:

  • Difficulty sitting down to write. (This may subtly show itself in an extra clean and tidy house, or a sudden drive to do all those fiddly little jobs you’ve been putting off.)
  • Difficulty knowing where to start writing.
  • Constantly editing the first few lines of your writing to try and get them just right.

The cause of this fear is usually perfectionism.

It’s natural to want to do your best work and make your story shine, but before you can do any of that you need to get your words onto the page. For that to happen, you have to settle for whatever will come.

First drafts are usually messy. That’s their purpose. The tight sentences, smooth transitions and sharp plot turns often come later – either as you get yourself into the flow of writing or during the editing process.

Expecting your first words to be perfect puts unnecessary pressure on yourself – in fact, it is asking the impossible.

To help you overcome this fear, you might try:

  • Writing the beginning of your story on paper, perhaps using a pencil to remind yourself that these are just temporary words.
  • Crumpling the paper before you write so it doesn’t look too pristine to use.
  • Starting in the middle of your story, choosing to write a scene that particularly appeals to you.
  • Interviewing your main character to get to know them better. This may help you find their voice before you start.
  • Freewriting. Set yourself a timer and just start writing. It will force you to put words on the page.

Don’t go for perfect, just go for broke.

Fear of Getting Something Wrong

When writing fiction, there are many facts and figures that still need to connect with real life. Historical fiction and science-fiction especially require an attention to accuracy. This can all lead to a fear of getting something wrong.

Symptoms of this fear may be:

  • Excessive research. You may find yourself only writing a few lines before hopping on the internet to search for information.
  • Shying away from specifics in your story. Instead of describing details of your world, you use vague, all-encompassing expressions that may seem safer but don’t properly build your world.

A certain amount of information is important to creating a story that is plausible enough to suspending disbelief while still gripping the reader with intriguing twists. However, the danger lies in packing your story with so much extra detail that the characters and plot become lost in the extensive descriptions.

Making sure you have enough information without sinking too much of your valuable time into research is a balancing act that changes with each story you write. No matter what intriguing details you discover in your research, keep your focus on what is necessary to engage your reader.

To overcome this fear and successfully include the details necessary to your story, you might try some of these suggestions:

  • If your story will require lots of facts and figures, begin your research several months before you plan to begin writing your story. Perhaps start a folder or notebook to collect together the information you will need.
  • As you write your story, when you come to something that needs research simply leave yourself a note and keep writing. Come back later, after you’ve done your writing for the day or once you’ve finished your manuscript, and research the matter then.
  • Set yourself a time limit when researching.
  • Use resources that are reliable and accurate. Visiting your local library might be a wiser use of time than just researching on the internet.
  • Speak to someone who knows the subject well. You may find they can provide you details you couldn’t otherwise find. They may also be willing to become a beta reader for your project, helping you to catch inaccuracies.

Most importantly, don’t let the need for accuracy stop you writing. Remember your independent writer mindset – take action and ask for help if you need it.


Add your comment below. How do you overcome your fear of perfection? Do you have any researching tips you can share?


Right now I’m extra busy preparing my e-book for publication, but I take time out of my week to publish this because I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would post here every Friday.

I’ve you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.

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


What’s on Your Writing Diet?

A half-eaten cookie on a book.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I recently came across this quote by Ray Bradbury:

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

So, what’s on your diet?

When it comes to dieting, we’re usually encouraged to look at:

  • How often we eat,
  • How much we eat, and
  • What kind of food we’re eating.

The same holds true for our writing and reading diets. So for the next two weeks I’m encouraging you to take a closer look at your writing and reading habits.

Of course, it goes without saying that everyone is different. The diet that works for you may not work for me and vice versa. The principle is the same for writing routines and reading choices.

The trick with dieting (as well as reading and writing) is to tailor your habits to your own needs. This week we’ll look at the different aspects of a good writing diet. Next week we’ll tackle the reading diet. As we go, think about the tweaks you can make to your writing and reading habits to increase your creative output.


How Often?

The first thing with any writing routine is working out how often you write. Most writers recommend writing daily in order to get into a good rhythm. But there are some writers out there who write less frequently What about you?

No matter whether you write every day, every second day, or only every week, the important thing is to make sure you are writing regularly. Why? As Ray Bradbury pointed out in his quote, this is a diet. Binge eating doesn’t work for your body, so binge writing doesn’t usually work well for your Creativity or your mind.

No matter when you plan to write, make sure you have a specific time and place in mind. Schedule it into your calendar or set yourself a reminder on your phone. If you only write when you feel like it, then it’s too easy for other things to take the place of your writing. Make an appointment with your writing and keep it!

How Much?

What about how muchyou write? Some writers stick to word counts. Other writers prefer to set a time limit. How do you decide how much you will write?

Whichever method you use, you want the amount to be achievable, something you can manage on a regular basis. Getting into a routine is hard, and there will be days when you miss your writing goal for whatever reason. Melissa Dinwiddie describes her goals as “ridiculously achievable” because they are easy to do every day and easy to return to if she misses a day.

Setting a goal for yourself means you can measure your success and improvement. You may start out with a goal of writing 100 words a day. Gradually that goal may increase to 500 and then 1,000. It’s great to have an overall goal of reaching a certain amount of writing a day, but remember to work you way up with achievable goals that you can realistically accomplish during each writing session.

What Kind?

Now, what kind of writing are you doing? Short stories? Novellas? Novels? Poetry? Songwriting? Are you writing romance? Science-fiction? Comedy? There are so many different writing forms and genres. Are you taking advantage of them?

A healthy diet encourages you to eat a variety of foods. So too a healthy writing life involves variety and even experimentation. We all have our favourite writing forms and subjects, but stepping outside our comfort zone from time to time not only allows us to learn and grow, but can also lead to very pleasant surprises. You never know whether you’ll enjoy something or not until you give it a go.

For example, I used to love writing novels and had no interest in short stories until several years ago. A friend of mine organised a “writers’ day” and requested each writer bring a short story with them. While preparing my contribution, I discovered I loved writing short stories and have greatly enjoyed writing them ever since.

Don’t rule anything out until you’ve tried it. You might discover a brand new outlet for your Creativity.

So, to recap, no matter what kind of writer you are, the writing diet goes as follows:

  • Write regularly.
  • Write achievable amounts each session.
  • Use variety and experimentation in your writing.

Now I hand it over to you. What kind of writing diet works for you?


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


Creative Action: Say Can

A girl looking very grumpy. Obviously she's been saying can't too often.

“Grouch” by Greg Westfall via Flickr

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity and today I’m laying down a challenge!

Are you a little petulant?

Do you say “can’t” too often?

Adults tend to associate the petulant use of “can’t” with small children who refuse to eat vegetables, take baths or enter indentured servitude.

But in my experience, adults are equally guilty of saying “can’t” when they really “could” if they got out of their own way, got off their high horse or got down to rainbow tacks (because brass tacks are sooo passé).

For example, have you ever finished reading a book and thought to yourself, “I can’t write something like that”?

Have you been blessed with the incandescent light bulb of an idea only to say, “I can’t do that idea justice, so I won’t even try writing it”?

Or what about the ever popular, “I can’t write today, because I promised to walk Aunt Mable’s tapir (or whatever common excuse you use)”?

If you spend your life effectively nipping yourself in the bud every time you come close to writing about something brilliant, you know what happens? You end up bushy with no flowers…because you nipped all the buds…

Yes…well…let’s pretend that little flop of a joke didn’t happen and move on, shall we?

Anyway, for this month’s creative action I want you to do one very simple thing which could make an incredible difference to your writing life.

Say can.

The next time you read an inspiring book, say to yourself, “I can write something inspiring like that.”

Why? Because you can. With your own unique writing voice and your own unique writing drive you can inspire someone with your words.

The next time you get a flash of an idea, say to yourself, “I can do that idea justice. I’ll try writing it.”

Why? Because you can. It may take time. You may have to learn some new skills and hurdle a few mountains in the process, but it’s possible.

The next time you’re tempted to find an excuse not to write today, say to yourself and anyone listening, “I can write today.”

Why? Because, you guessed it, chances are you can. Get out of your own way and settle yourself in front of the page. See what happens. Prove yourself right by writing at least one word. Then follow it up with one more. See?! You can!

Right, off you go! Say CAN!

And then don’t forget to pop back here and leave a comment telling us what you did. 😉


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

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 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


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?


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Gut, Heart and Head – Making Creative Decisions as a Writer

A sign offering two options: Warm and Cold

“Decision” by Tim Rizzo

There are countless decisions you need to make as a writer, ranging from the genre of your novel to the placement of punctuation. Some decisions come easily, others cause confusion and some perhaps even lead to sleepless nights.

When making a decision, there are usually three elements in play:

  • Your gut – What your instinct is telling you.
  • Your heart – What you’re emotionally attached to.
  • Your head – What options you have before you and the logical reasoning behind them.

How can you use all three of these elements to make the best decisions for your story? And where does your Creativity come into all of this?

Let’s look at an example.

The Beginnings of a Problem

For the past week or two I’ve been going through the edits for my collection of short, short stories called Baverstock’s Allsorts. Most of my editor’s suggestions were straight forward, but there was one suggestion which has given me pause for a number of days.

He suggested I change the ending to one of my stories…and at that point that my gut and my heart went to war with each other.

My gut reaction was that he was right. The change was essential. But my heart was too attached to the original version. It searched for every conceivable reason why I shouldn’t change the ending.

So naturally, being in a quandary, I looked to loved ones and beta readers for their opinion.

If you have ever had experience with this kind of situation, you undoubtedly know what happened next. I was presented with a number of reasons why the ending should stay.

On the positive side, my writing had enough emotional pull for my readers to have strong views on the subject. However, I was once again left in the middle of the war between my gut and my heart – with the added problem that my heart had brought in reinforcements.

The Real Problem

In the process of making the decision, I had to disappoint someone. I had to either go against what my editor said and follow the suggestions of my readers, or I had to trust my editor and change an ending that my readers liked. I also had to choose within myself – to go with my gut or my heart.

Last week I wrote about the independent writing mindset. In an upcoming section of that chapter, we will look at how an independent writer takes responsibility for their writing, especially in the decisions that need to be made in their writing life.

The reality of writing is that you will always disappoint someone. It is impossible to please everyone with what you write and how you write it. So you want to make decisions that are authentic to your voice and your audience.

You probably think that means my example decision should have been easy: Go with what the readers were telling me.

Well, there was one player missing – my mind hadn’t yet entered the fray.

Finding the Solution

After a fitful night’s sleep, I mentioned my conundrum to one last reader. Her response was unexpected – she agreed with the editor. But even more than that, she explained why she agreed. She finally put my gut feeling into words my head could understand.

Once my head was properly involved I saw the issue much more clearly. But, interestingly enough, my Creativity also joined in. With a bit of creative thinking I could see a third option – one that would allow me to incorporate my editor’s suggestions while taking into consideration the elements of the original ending that my readers liked.

Writing problems are seldom black and white (like deciding whether to delete or add). There are often creative solutions that allow you to have the best of both worlds. These solutions may take time to find, but they’re worth the extra effort.

Gut reactions are important, but so is the emotional investment your heart makes. When you are able to add bring your head and your Creativity into the mix, then you can create alternatives that will add depth and authenticity to your writing.

So, what ended up happening with the story? I changed the ending and ran it past my beta readers. Interestingly enough, they liked it!

Now as I sit here writing this, I can’t believe how much protest my heart put up about the change. I’m completely in love with the new ending and can’t imagine the story ending any other way.

Have you had similar experiences in your editing? What did you do to resolve your writing decisions?