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De-Stress Your Writing Life: What True Balance Means

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’ve been blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read previous posts on Creativity’s Workshop for free. In today’s post we continue the chapter Taking Control of Your Mindset. You can read the first three parts of the chapter herehere and here.

What True Balance Means

To summarize these last few chapters, let’s look at what balance actually means.

In our writing life, we want to have balance in our:

  • Mindset
  • Expectations
  • Goals
  • Routine

We’ve looked at how we can go about that using positive thoughts, freewrites, rescue plans, and personalized pep talks. These are all techniques you can use on an ongoing basis to keep yourself balanced in your writing life.

Yes, notice that word: Ongoing.

Why?

Because things are always changing, and with those changes may come problems or emotional hiccups that can cause us to falter in our writing.

For example:

  • We or a member of our family may fall ill.
  • Our housing or work situation may change.
  • We may reach a new phase in our writing life (perhaps submitting our work for the first time, or seeing a negative review from a reader) which brings up thoughts and beliefs we’ve never faced before.
  • A new writing project may turn out to be more difficult than we first anticipated.

There are all sorts of reason why we may find ourselves battling with fresh fears, barriers, or emotional needs. These problems do not make us a failure. They are perfectly natural.

This is where balance comes in, because true balance involves adjustment.

We do not find balance and then rigidly remain in that mindset or routine to maintain that balance. In fact, rigidity is the opposite of balance.

Think of a tightrope walker. He does not talk along the rope bolt upright, barely moving a muscle. In order to maintain balance, he is always moving his muscles – be they the tiny muscles in his toes or the large muscles in his legs, shoulders, and arms. Those constant, minute adjustments are the secret to balance. Without them he would topple and fall.

In a similar way, to maintain balance in your writing life you will need to make continual adjustments as you face different circumstances. A pep talk that worked for you one week might not help you move forward the next. A fear that you conquered in your last project may spring up again when you start your new story. These situations don’t mean that all the work you put in before was wasted. It simply means you need to keep up that work to maintain your balance.

As you progress through the adventure of your writing life, you may wish to come back and read these chapters through again. Each time you read them, you may discover new points that you did not pick up before. As your life changes your needs change too. This is a beautiful part of our human journey, so continue making those constant adjustments to keep yourself balanced and moving forward.

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Add your comment below. How do you keep yourself balanced in your writing life?

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My writing life is currently out of balance. I am suffering with my third bout of cold/flu in six months, which has thrown my schedule and my plans out of kilter. This unfortunately means I have to make some temporary adjustments to get myself back on track. I will be posting the details of these changes early next week. I appreciate your understanding and support.

If 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.

Thanks for dropping by.

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De-Stress Your Writing Life: Taking Control of Your Mindset (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. In today’s post we continue the chapter we started last week on Taking Control of Your Mindset.

Permission

From a very young age we’ve been taught to ask for permission – “May I leave the room, miss?” “Can I have another piece of pie, mom?” The publishing world has also taught us that we need the permission of gatekeepers before our words see the light of day.

However, we now live in a world where blogs and self-publishing are commonplace. Are we still waiting for permission to start?

The reality is the first person (and often only person) who needs to give us permission is ourselves.

If we haven’t committed to a project, if we haven’t acknowledged that we can and should be writing, then we’ve withheld permission to begin. That roadblock is of our own making, and only we can tear it down.

Choosing a project, and committing your attention to it, is all the permission you need.

Give it a go: What would you do if you had permission? Write down your answer, and then give yourself permission in writing. Sign your name at the bottom. Now go invest your time and energy in your new project!

Recognition

We want to be known as a writer. We want to be read by other people. We want to take our place in the writing world.

This sounds like the kind of recognition that can only be bestowed by other people, but first ask yourself these questions:

  • When people ask me about myself, do I identify myself a writer?
  • Do I give the proper attention and time to my writing?
  • In other words, do I recognize myself as a writer?

Others won’t recognize you as a writer until you take yourself and your writing seriously. If you don’t call yourself a writer and act like a writer, how will others recognize you as one? The best way to get started is to give yourself a pep talk and get writing.

Give it a go: Start identifying yourself to others as a writer. The next time someone asks you what you go for a living, say you’re a writer. Make a poster declaring yourself a writer. Set aside time each day to write.

Approval

We want to shine in the eyes of others, especially those closest to us. It’s natural to want someone to say, “Well done. I’m proud of you.”

Unfortunately, relying on other people’s approval is like flying a kite – we will find ourselves continually at the mercy of elements outside of our control, the fickle winds of opinion. The constant adjustments and sudden dips will never change.

Don’t wait for others to approve of you. Approve of yourself and keep moving forward. Shut down the voice of your inner critic and allow yourself to be proud of what you accomplish. When you reach the end of each day, find something (no matter how small) that you can say “well done” about.

Give it a go: Make a list of your recent accomplishments. Don’t focus on what went wrong with them, or what didn’t turn out exactly as you planned. Instead, spend your time patting yourself on the back for the progress you’ve made, the words you’ve created, and the results of your hard work.

Inspiration

Ideas are essential to a writer, but they can seem to pop into our head without warning or disappear for long periods of time. We may feel we’re at the mercy of that elusive spark.

However, inspiration is not as fickle as it first appears. By understanding our personal creative process and keeping our ‘creative well’ topped up, we can place ourselves directly in inspiration’s path.

By maintaining a positive outlook and a regular creative routine, you can attract inspiration like bees to pollen. (We’ll cover the source of creativity and the elements of a good creative process in a following chapter.)

Give it a go: Find an activity (like reading a book, walking in a park, visiting a museum) that you find creatively rewarding. Regularly set aside time in your monthly schedule to feed your mind high quality idea fodder.

Direction

Writing projects can tend to loom large on our horizon, especially when the excitement of a fresh idea wears off. We face a mountain of things to do without any idea of where to start. We might wish that someone was there to tell us what to do, to take the lead and give us direction in our writing life.

Often the problem is we’re trying to tackle the entire project all at once. We need to remember that all projects, no matter how huge, are completed in tiny steps. Even experienced writers still only write one word at a time.

If you’re not sure of where to start, write yourself a To Do List. Keep breaking down your To Do List into smaller and smaller chunks until you find something you can start on. If you’re working on a first draft, start anywhere. Just get the first word on the page, and then the second. They’ll eventually add up.

If you don’t know how to do something, then start by learning. View reading a book on the subject or watching an online course as the first step in your project.

Give it a go: Start a To Do List for your project. Take each major task and break it down into smaller tasks until you find something you feel able to manage. Then get started on that task.

As you can see, these needs which first appeared to be out of our hands can often be filled by simply changing our mindset. One of the best ways to help us make this transition is through writing a personalized pep talk, where you can get your new mindset down on paper. We’ll cover that in next week’s post.

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Add your comment below. What writing project are you working on at the moment? How have you given yourself permission? What is next on your To Do List?

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I’m finally getting back into my writing routine (although I’ve just had a flu jab today so we’ll see how that goes). I’ve fallen a few months behind with my fiction writing schedule, but my priority at the moment is to make sure I’m setting achievable goals for the coming months. My De-Stress Your Writing Life posts are one of my top priorities because I promised I’d always have something encouraging here for you to read on a Friday.

If 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.

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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Mindset

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.

De-Stress Your Writing Life is divided up into three main sections:

  • Mindset
  • Practice
  • Follow-Through

Today’s post is the introduction to the first section – Mindset.

The act of creating begins in the mind.

The speck of an idea lodges in your Imagination, growing and growing until it blossoms into that ‘Aha!’ moment. Then it may take days, months or even years before the blossom matures into an end result – a piece of finished writing.

Because this is such a mental process, a clouded mind can easily inhibit its progress. Doubt can poison the soil before the idea germinates. Fear can choke the life out of the little plant. Then there’s the Inner Critic who is all too ready to lop off a bud before it ever reaches fruition.

Prolific and relaxed writers are those who have found ways around the barriers their minds throw at them.

They have practiced a mindset that allows them to:

  • Make mistakes,
  • Experiment,
  • Permit stories to flow naturally,
  • Only edit when necessary, and
  • Release their work into the world without excessive attachments, so they can start writing afresh.

You too can accomplish this mindset! In this section we will look at all the different elements of a relaxed, motivated writer mindset – encompassing how you view yourself, your Creativity and your writing.

There is no rush or pressure to adopt a new way of thinking. As you read, notice which thoughts make you excited about your writing and which weigh you down, perhaps even hindering your ability to write. Take the time to do the exercises so you can find the best way to apply the suggestions in your circumstances. Gradually you can remove your mental barriers and free yourself to write whenever, wherever and however you wish.

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Have you noticed the effect your mindset has on your writing? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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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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