May 31

Fighting Fear, Procrastination, and Self-Doubt

“I’m not good enough…” “This sucks!” “I’ll never get published…Published, hell, you can’t write a decent first line–why are you even thinking about getting published?” Or my favorite…”Why am I even bothering…trying…???”

Most, if not every, creative person has suffered, at some point or other, maybe you’re suffereing from it now, from self-doubt, which is really just plain ole’ fear. But if you turn fear into motivation, if you turn it into something that works for you instead of letting it eat at you and turn into self-doubt, procrastination, then you can finish that book, or that piece of art, or that song or poem you’ve been working on. If you don’t do anything, if you wallow in the fear, letting that self-doubt eat at you, then the fear ends up turning into procrastination and you send up self-sabotaging, which just leads to more fear, more self-doubt, more procrastination..And it’s a vicious cycle, and that’s often what people refer to as “writer’s block.”

What are your fears? Really? The one’s that prevent you from following your dream…from accomplishing the things you really want to do…from finishing that book, or art project, or poem, or screenplay? When I was completing the Artist’s Way 12 week self-guided course by Julia Cameron, and then working on the exercises in her book The Right to Write, I made lists–lists of my fears. Then I went on to work on those fears, I had to figure out if the fears were real, if they were justified, exaggerated, and what was the underlying cause or reason behind the one’s that were real. I delved into the depths of my fears. And that wasn’t easy.

Once you’ve done that, though, one of the first things most people suggest, from what I’ve found, is to negate those fears with at least a few positive affirmations, traits, facts…You can write out positive affirmations on sticky notes and put them in various places so you’ll see them, or make a lists of them in a journal.

For example, if you fear rejection you can look at how many others were rejected before they were finally published. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling are great examples of this.

Another thing you can do is schedule your writing. Make your writing a priority, build a routine, give yourself a deadline (a realistic amount of time, or number of words or pages to complete each day). For example, writing 300 words a day in a year makes a novel…300 words each day for one year equals 109,500 words, or 109,800 words if it’s a leap year.

Expect problems, mishaps, things that may happen, because in real life shit does happen. Adjust accordingly, but don’t let the deadline slide. REMEMBER why you love your story. Why you love writing. And REMEMBER that self-doubt, procrastination, and FEAR feed on each other–Don’t be a victim of that fear.

One word at a time. One sentence at a time. One page at a time… and before you know it’s One Day and you’ve finished the first draft of your novel.

May 12

Second week of “The Right to Write” by J. Cameron

I’m on my second week of working through the exercises in “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron and I have to say that it is actually helping my writing in a variety of ways. I’m still doing the Morning Pages, which I learned about in “The Artist’s Way,” and I’m also art journaling (or better known as illustrate your life, sketch your life, with an added bit of “Smashbook” style…), and I’ve been inspired to create more in general.

I am doing more creative things on a daily basis. (Part of that is because I’m now using a bullet journal and that has helped tremendously.) I have changed a few of the exercises to fit things for me. Instead of postcards, I sent an email, a letter, a phone call, a message.

I’ve also found that my morning pages are easier to do, better. I started the morning pages with “The Artist’s Way,” but they’ve actually improved since starting this book.

I hope if you’re following along that you are finding this book as helpful as I am.

Here’s the video I made about week 2:

May 6

The Right to Write: Days 1-5

The Right to WriteMy first “week,” well almost a week, but since I’m supposed to be doing this on Wednesday’s…But I’m running a bit behind with posting… Life happens.

The first day was titled, “Begin,” and Cameron says to just start writing where you are. That it’s a luxury to be in the mood to write and that being in the mood is not necessary. She also says that “writing is like breathing–it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.”

She goes on to talk about toddlers and how they learn first be grabbing for things, then grabbing with words, and that their words are “personal and powerful,…filled with will and intent…they trust the power of words.” But along the way, usually in school, we lose that power over words, that feeling that we are good at language, and we begin to feel that we might not be good enough with words.

In school your words are critiqued with things like “You stray from the topic a bit here,” or “Stick to the point,” or if you’re me, “Too much fluff.” So we end up learning to doubt ourselves and with that comes self-scrutiny, which results in trying to write “right” so that we sound smart. She gives you an exercise to work on, she calls these the Initiation, and where she talks its called the Invitation.

The second exercise, for my the second day, May 2nd, is “Let yourself Write.” Cameron talks a great deal about writing, being a writer, and what a writer is. My favorite quote from this section is:

“When we just let ourselves write, we get it right.”

The exercise she gives you has to do with what you think being a real writer is. I found it quite interesting, as well as revealing.

On day 3, is “Let Yourself Listen.” She says that “the simplest and smartest thing I ever learned about writing is the importance of a sense of direction.” She goes on to say that writing is “about getting something down, not about thinking something up.” Instead of being an “act of pontification, writing becomes an act of revelation.” We can either “think a plot up” or we can “jot a plot down.”

On Day 4, is the “Time Lie,” and this one really hit home for me. She starts off this section with this powerful sentence.

“If I had a year off, I’d write a novel.”

It’s a lie. A lie. She says that that is a “convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time,” and that you can steal moments to write, and with each sentence and/or moment you write you’ll feel better, good about yourself and your writing.

One of the other things she says that really hit home for me was, “Don’t try to write something perfect; just write…the obsession with time is really an obsession with perfection.”

All of that really hit home for me, and I also saw a quote, which was one of my quotes for the day, which was from Stephen King, “300 words a day in one year’s time is a novel.” Synchronicity.

Day 5, was Track. And she likens writing to laying tracks, like railroad track, getting from point A to point B. She talks about the “rich, fertile, whimsical” side of the brain is for laying track, and the logic brain side is for second drafts. Right brain/left brain.

Some of what she talks about she spoke about in “The Artist Way.” I don’t mind though. Each section has made me think, given me food for thought so to speak, and inspired me. The next morning my morning pages were better. I can’t recommend this book enough. “The Artist’s Way” broke the surface of helping me with the creativity, with my writing. I have a feeling that this book is going to help me delve even deeper underneath the surface. My whole goal for this year, like my word–Positivity, was to change things for the better, to be more positive, to find my inner joy, to live a happier, healthier life and to be a healthier, happier me. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been working on taking back my life, on what I am calling #projectme. I feel like it’s working.

I’ve set up this whole “course” in a journal. I’m excited about all of this and feeling really motivated and inspired. I hope you are as well.

 

May 2

Introduction to The Right to Write (by Julia Cameron)

I’m on day 2 of the exercises in the book “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron and so far I am enjoying it–the Invitation (this is the part where she has written a bit and invites you to do the next part) and the Initiation. Today’s exercise took all of maybe 15-20 minutes, and most of that time was spent reading the Invitation. Yesterday’s exercise took longer but not a long time.

Why read a book about the “right to write?” Because there are times when I feel like I don’t have the right to call myself a writer. When I don’t feel like a true writer, that perhaps I’m not talented enough, or not productive enough, or just not worthy…The self-doubt is real, and I have yet to meet/talk to a writer (or an artist or musician) who doesn’t at one time or another, or at varios times, have self-doubt.

While working on the self-guided course in “The Artist’s Way,” I learned that the self-doubt, procrastination, self-sabotage, writer’s block, etc., all stem from fear. FEAR! I worked through some things but I know that I only scratched the surface of things. Instead of going through “The Artist’s Way” a second time I chose to use this book–“The Right to Write.” I loved what she had to say in the introduciton of this book. If you’re interested, here’s my video about her introduction:

April 30

The Universe is speaking, and I’m listening

Just when I thought I was getting things together, especially in regard to my writing, I got hit with a bout of fear (procrastination, self-doubt, distractions, stress, anxiety…). And it waited until I won Camp NaNoWriMo to hit me. Though I did need a break from writing yesterday–I’d stayed up until a little after three in the morning Tuesday night to write, and I got up early Wednesday morning.

Today I was feeling those feelings of fear creep into my mind…You might as well just put the novel in the drawer and not worry about finishing it–you know it sucks! Or, oh, look it’s a shiny new idea…Or, just forget about writing, why don’t you go read a book, watch Netflix, draw a picture…you know you’re never going to be published, find something else to do…

I wrote my morning pages this morning and felt good. First thing on my “to-do” list done. Next thing, done.

And now, it’s the next day… So much for getting this blog post up.

But I’ve been busy. Listening to the Universe…

The Universe has spoken…Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Seriously though, the Universe has been speaking to me. I am going to start Julia Cameron’s “The Right to Write,” on May 1st.  The descripton for the book on Amazon says:

What if everything we have been taught about learning to write was wrong? In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron‘s most revolutionary book, the author of the bestselling self-help guideThe Artist’s Way, asserts that conventional writing wisdom would have you believe in a false doctrine that stifles creativity. With the techniques and anecdotes in The Right to Write, readers learn to make writing a natural, intensely personal part of life. Cameron’s instruction and examples include the details of the writing processes she uses to create her own bestselling books. She makes writing a playful and realistic as well as a reflective event. Anyone jumping into the writing life for the first time and those already living it will discover the art of writing is never the same after reading The Right to Write.

A few other writers are joining me in this quest and I’ll be posting my thoughts via this blog every other day or so, and on YT on Wednesdays. You’ll be able to find more posts via this #therighttowritewednesdays, since Wednesday’s are the days I usually post Writerly related videos. 😀

I hope you’ll join me. I’ll also be posting about how I’m taking back my life by trying to be a healthier, more fit me. On Friday’s I’ll have “Fitness Friday” videos, and on Monday’s… Well, that’s my coffee chat video. And on Sunday’s I’m going to start sharing my art journal/bullet journal pages.

April 13

Writer Wednesday | Building your Writing Habit

Camp nano 2016One of the things I’ve struggled with the most in regard to my writing, other than self-doubt/fear issues, is building my writing habit. Making and sticking to a routine, a schedule. Part of the reason is that I’ve flip-flopped around between being a day writer and being a night writer, trying to do one or the other, and finally I realized, thanks to the Artist’s Way and a lot of trial and error, that I’m a bit of both.

Here are a few tips to help build a writing routine, and I’ll talk a bit about what has and hasn’t worked for me, and why, along with what I plan on doing in the future.

  • LOCATION/Time: Find a place that you can make yours. Whether it’s in a corner of a room, a room of your own, the back porch, the car (no joke, I read about a woman who writes in her car), or where ever. Make it a dedicated space. A place that you feel comfortable writing in, and then place a few things, or bring them with you, that inspire you. Maybe it’s your favorite pen and notebook. Or maybe it’s your favorite hat, sweater, candle, chair, blanket, picture…. Then pick certain times, and yes, I said times, plural. We’ll get to that in a bit.Writing Desk
  • Start small. Make Goals. Big one’s like yearly goals, then break that down into quarterly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, daily goals. With your goals made, you can make a plan. Figure how much you need to write based on those goals. For example, write make my 40K word goal for CampNaNoWriMo I need to write 1333 words each day for the month of April. If I make that goal, I’ll have a little over 100K for my novel…THE END (well, it’ll be the end of the book but not the end of my writing because there will still need to be major editing, revising, rewriting… All that good editing stuff). If I miss a day, not a good thing, or if I only write say 500 words on a day then I know I need to make up for that. What I’ve done by breaking my goals up into smaller goals is make them into tasks that are manageable.
  • Create a Writing Plan: My writing tasks, thanks to breaking my goals down into manageable tasks, is to write 1333 words during the month of April, or maybe it’s to write 500 words a day the entire year, or maybe it’s to write 1000 words a day during the week. I’ve also set up some kind of schedule (LOCATION/TIME) for my writing. If the house is only quiet from 4am-6am or 4pm-6pm; or if the ideal writing time is before work, or right after work. You know what your life is like, when the peak times are for you to write. If you’re not sure try different things until you find a time that will work for you.
  • Write in increments. For example, I write my morning pages, then I take a break from writing and draw. Then I go back to writing and write for 30 minutes to an hour. Then I take a short break, usually 15 minutes and start a load of laundry, make myself a fresh cup of coffee and grab a banana (one of my favorite snacks). That that has done for me is get my out of the chair and moving around. I’ve gotten a healthy snack, done something on my to-do list that I need to accomplish that has nothing to do with writing, as well as clear my head a bit. Then I go back to writing , or I’ll do something that is “writing related,” like look up character names, or find a picture of a setting I like, or research a fact, or write down notes for a video or blog post, then I go back to writing and write for another 30 minutes to an hour. Then it’s time for another break. Time to put those clothes in the dryer, wash some dishes, check the mail, or go for a walk. Then…I go back to writing or doing something “writer related.” I take a long break in the afternoon, usually, and film a video, edit a video, upload; and/or cook dinner, clean the house (I love doing 30 minute daily cleans); eat dinner with Mr. Rockstar, watch a little TV. Then I go back to writing and usually write for 30 minutes to an hour before I go to bed.
  • Distractions: Get rid of them, minimize them. Put your phone on vibrate, or better yet silent. Or leave it in a different room. Or you can use a program like Write or Die. Turn your WiFi off. If you’re like me, you’ll put your Scrivener Project in the compose mode, open up Rainymoods.com, light a candle, grab a cup of coffee and write. get shit done
  • Triggers: Speaking of lighting a candle, grabbing a cup of coffee, opening Rainy Moods…those are triggers for me that it’s time to write. I also prefer to write at my desktop, but there are times when I get tired of sitting at the desk and I use my laptop, with my comfy lapdesk thingy, and I lounge on my bed and write. I also go outside and write at the picnic table in our backyard (if the weather permits), or I’ll go to Starbucks or a park. I also wear my NaNoWriMo or CampNaNoWriMo t-shirts when I’m having a particularly rough day and I need to feel more motivated.
  • Word Count Trackers or Logs: Or productivity logs/trackers. If you really want to know how productive you are, keep a log of when you start writing, when you finish, make sure that if you do something else you log the time and activity. Did you pause in your writing to check Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Did you stop writing and watch YT videos? (I speak from experience, lol!)

    Word Count tracker, and April's Calendar
    My Camp NaNoWriMo Spread, including a word count tracker, April’s calendar, tasks, and some inspiration.
  • (Last but not least) Get your ASS IN the CHAIR! If you don’t sit down (or stand if you’re lucky enough to have one of those standing desks) and write you won’t get the words written. Write. Write! WRITE!
  • Self: Improvement, care, etc. If you want to be a better writer, then write, but you might also want to check out what successful writers have done or are doing. Read books about the craft of writing, memiors about writers, blog posts from successful writers. And, you’ll want to take care of your self. Along with taking breaks, you’ll need to get some exercise, sleep, nourishment (perferrably healthy foods/snacks), and hydrate.
  • AND REMEMBER: what works for one person/writer might not work for you. FIND out what WORKS for YOU.

And, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard lately is: When you’re done, once you’re spent, and you know it’s best if you stop, then stop. TAKE A BREAK!

April 12

Coffee Chat | Synchronicity

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that for the past few weeks I’ve noticed, because I’m now paying more attention to things (thanks to the Artist’s Way), that similar themes keep popping up. Coincidence? I’m not sure that I believein coincidence–I’m going to call it synchronicity.

Themes like accountability, creativity, time-management, organization, self-confidence, believing in yourself, having a shitty first draft is okay, how important it is to have goals and to reach for your dreams…getting fit, being healthy, self care.

Since I’ve been reading Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” I’ve been paying more attention to things like synchronicity, especially when it pertains to creativity, life, living a creative life, self-care, writing, art…It took me quite a few weeks to realize what was taking place in my life. The art of being present, in the moment.

I’ve been trying since last year to get organized in a way that allows me to stay organized. I’m a creative clutter kind of person. While I am working on things my desk is usually littered with things: washi-tape, pens, markers, paint brushes, glue-sticks, stickers, scissors, ruler, a cup of coffee, journals, a book (or three), hand lotion, fountain pen ink…. I have tried various planners, from ring bound, bound, TN (Traveler’s Notebook) inserts, spiral bound, to DIY. I’ve also tried verious journal techniques. The thing that seems to work the best for me is what is called an “omni-journal,” along with my Hobonichi.

I am now using my Hobonichi for my bullet journaling, as well as a small bit of “sketch/illustrate” your life journaling. And I’m using my Seven Seas Crossfield as my omni-journal, which houses my journaling, more in depth sketch/illustrate your life journaling, alond with my bullet journal collections and a few spreads. Both of these journals are in my Jonelifish A5 trifold (that is called Hans after Hans Christian Anderson), and my Jonelifish A5 bifold, which I use as my writer’s bible, is called Shakespeare. I am still using the Leuchttrum Master for my writing bullet journal (I’ll have a new one for each novel).

So why would I be talking about synchronicity when it comes to organization, planning, journaling, and the like? Yesterday morning my daughter called me. She needed some peace and quiet because she had a number of things she needed to do, like apply for jobs, apply for unemployment (the company she was working for had a massive layoff), redo her resume, and she said she wanted to start bullet journaling. What? I had been thinking about how bullet journaling might help her for the past few weeks but had yet to mention it.

Here’s my video where I talk about more of what I found that spoke “synchronicity” to me. 😀

April 11

Week 1 Wrap Up | Intro to Week 2 of Camp NaNo

I am still behind with posts, this was supposed to go up the other day, but I’m working on getting everything done, organized. My “To-Do” list is growing smaller (for now anyway. More will be added soon.)Week 1 of Camp NaNoWriMo went well. I closed out the week with just a little over my goal.  I’m happy with where my story is going. And I love the cabin I’m in. Now if only I could get the weather around here to play nice, my allergies to go away, and the money tree to sprout some new buds…

I finished (re)reading “Merrick” by Anne Rice, and am almost finished with “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King. I’m also reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” I spend one hour a day reading, usually in the evening. It’s my reward for getting at least 500 words written for the day. I know my goal is 1333 words each day, but there are always days when other things happen and for whatever reason you’re unable to write that much. Some days it’s time that hinders me. I have family obligations, things I want and need to do with my family that prevent me from spending as much time on my writing as I want. On those days, my goal is to write at least 500 words, and then I make up the difference the next day.

The beginning of April was filled with family things, so my word count was all over the place, but I stayed up late quite a few nights writing, which threw my new schedule out the window. Today, however, I am back on schedule. I didn’t get much sleep last night, but I’m up early so I can get back on schedule.

Week 2 officially started on Friday, I’m going by every 7 days, so I’m not doing too badly for week 2. I’m on target, if not a little ahead. I aim to keep it that way.

April 8

The Artist’s Way Week 10 Check-In

artist's wayWeek 10 is “Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection,” and I had synchronicity slap me right in the face this week. Last week was supposed to be my Week 10 Check-In, but I was TOO BUSY. Too busy preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo, too busy writing, too busy watching my grandson, too busy uploading videos, too busy cleaning…too busy, too busy, too busy. Ironically enough, that’s part of what this week is about.

The bottom line, according to Mrs. Cameron, is that busyness, as well as other crutches (she calls them blocking devices) like food, alcohol, drugs, sex or dramatic relationships (as well as few others) are ways that “we turn back on ourselves.” When “we begin to sense our real potential and the wide range of possibilities open to us…that scares us. So we all reach for blocks to slow our growth.” Some of those blocking devices are toxic. Once we’ve rooted out the devices and are aware of them, they “will no longer work effectively,” but you have to be honest with yourself, “ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with, work with.”

One of the things that I’m now doing that she suggests is to keep a daily checklist of how I spend my time. How much time I’m actually writing, versus procrastinating. Or how much time I spend on social media for “writing” versus social media for “socializing” and/or procrastination.

She also talks about Drought and Fame, along with Competition.

Cameron states that during a drought, when it feels/seems like our creativity has dried up, “these are the times when the morning pages are the most difficult and most valuable.” Did I mention I skipped my morning pages two days this week and last week? What I have to remind myself of is that the drought will end, and Cameron says that droughts “end because we have kept writing our (morning) pages, because we have not collapsed to the floor our our despair and refused to move on.” She also says, “to write is to right things. Sooner or later–always later than we like–our pages will bring things right.”

Fame, she says, “encourages us to believe that if it hasn’t happened yet, it won’t happen.” She calls fame a spiritual drug and is dangerous. While reading this section I was reminded of a quote:

Found on Pinterest
Found on Pinterest

Competition should “prove that it can be done.” Thinking “he or she will succeed instead of me,” is the fear talking. I’m 8 days into Camp NaNoWriMo, and some people get competitive when participating in NaNoWriMo events, what they call a healthy dose of “did you make your words today?” And for some that works, but for me it’s always been more about having fun, about getting my words and using the event as an accountability aid. If I’m honest with myself, I have to admit when someone makes a 5K day and I’m struggling to get 1000 doesn’t make me feel bad, but then I have to ask myself why can’t I also make it a 5K day, or how about I use tomorrow as my 5K day…It’s all about the way we think, about asking ourselves the right questions.

Cameron suggests that we ask ourselves questions like “Did I work on my writing today? Did I make my deadline?”

Cameron says, “Be willing to paint or write badly while your ego yelps resistance. Your bad writing my be the syntactical breakdown necessary for a shift in your style. Your lousy painting may be pointing you in a new direction. Art needs time to incubate, to sprawl a little, to be ungainly and misshapen and finally emerge as itself…we must learn to approve of ourselves. Showing up for the work is the win that matters.” Best piece of advice for me right now since I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo. A bit of synchronicity. 😀

April 7

Camp NaNoWriMo Tips

Camp nano 2016For the past three years I’ve been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, and in NaNoWriMo for far longer than that. I enjoy the Camps because of how much more laid back it is than November’s NaNo, how it’s a virtual camp with the cabins so you have other writer’s you can talk to about your writing, writing in general, and other writerly things. But I also like participating in the camps because I usually try to finish up things that were already started. It’s all part of my “having follow through,” and living a “creative life,” as well as my “getting organized and staying organized.”

I’ve often said that I’m a work in progress, that life itself seems to be a work in progress. Part of the reason I’m participating in CampNaNoWriMo this month is because I’m trying to finish my WIP. There are a few things I like to remember, they’re my tips for Camp:

  1. Remember it’s supposed to be FUN!
  2. It’s a first draft, or finishing up a draft, (or if you’re lucky, editing a draft). No one else has to see it. You don’t have to share it with anyone. And you can edit it later, or do more edits later. There is an invisible permission slip that comes with writing a first draft: It’s okay if it’s shitty. First drafts are supposed to be shitty, just ask Hemingway.
  3. You get to choose your own word count. So you can be the tortoise–slow and steady wins the race, or you can be the hare–and try to get all the words out on the page, or you can be the salmon and swim against the tide. Whatever works for you. My word count goal for this month is 30-40K.
  4. When you choose your idea you loved it. During this month keep that in mind. Why you choose the story…Why you loved the idea.
  5. The NaNoWriMo Forums, they’re great for advice, for ideas, for socializing, for information. And other writer communities such as #writestuff, #writetube.
  6. BACK UP YOUR WORK!!!
  7. Self-Care is important! Don’t forget to hydrate, exercise, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. Yes, I’m a coffee addict, but I also drink water, sweet iced tea, hot tea; apple, grape, and orange juice; Dr. Pepper, and hot chocolate. Often when I am stumped I’ll take a walk outside, take a long hot shower or bath, go for a drive, go somewhere else to write. Sometimes I take a break and read.
  8. Write! Get your (my) ass in the chair and just write.
  9. Morning pages are a great way to kickstart the creative juices.
  10. Make it a goal to wear your NaNo and Camp NaNo t-shirts and use your NaNo/Camp NaNo coffee mugs during the month.

I hope you’re having fun and that you get all the words written this month. Time for me to get back to writing. I have at least 1000 words to write today.