Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals, Part IV: Set Yourself Up for Success

Welcome back for the fourth (and final) post of my series, (You Can Still!) Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals. 

In my prior posts I wrote about Clearing the Decks for your writing, Reverse-Engineering & Revising Your Writing Goals, and Boosting Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive). Today I’m writing about setting yourself up for success.

Part IV: Setting Yourself Up for Success

When you’re aiming to set yourself up for success with an intensive writing effort, there are a number of things to keep in mind. I discussed some of these in the free clear the decks teleclass (which you can still listen to, if you’re interested), but they are worth reiterating in this context as well, along with some other keys to making your writing work.

  1. Have a Clear Writing Goal and Plan. We’ve already discussed this in prior posts in more detail, but having a crystal clear writing goal and a plan to meet it are a critical part of setting yourself up for success. You can’t “succeed” if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish. This is one of those “so simple it seems obvious” things but you’d be amazed at how often we skip this step in our thinking and lives… and our writing.
  2. Manage Your Mindset & Expectations. You will also want manage your mindset when designing for success. This came up on our goal setting call yesterday for the Deep Dive. If we set goals, and don’t meet them, we worry we will then feel disappointed or feel we have “failed.” This can be a deterrent to setting goals in the first place. So you’ll want to be mindful of striking a balance between an inspiring goal that stretches you just outside your comfort zone and is achievable, but doesn’t scare the pants off you, make you want to stop before you even start, or fear feeling wretched if you don’t make it.
  3. Do Your Best Dance. When you embark on an endeavor like this, you will want to give it your very best shot so you can feel proud of yourself at the end, no matter what happens. Play full out and have fun, celebrate the ups and downs as being part of the process, and make sure to get a high-five at the end.
  4. Get Enough Sleep. When you’re a writer, sleep is not a luxury, it’s a requirement. One of the biggest things I work on with writers in my 1:1 coaching sessions is helping them set up a realistic writing schedule that includes getting enough sleep.

    This often means going to bed early enough in order to be able to write early in the morning, or get through a work day and then have the reserves to write in the evening. Sleep has a big impact on your decision making abilities and your fortitude in sticking with your plans, so when you mess with sleep, your resistance is likely to be higher and your commitment to your writing is one of the first things to falter. So make sure you get enough sleep. :) It’s one of the simplest things you can do to support your writing habit.

  5. Make Smart Choices and Eliminate Distractions. In order to free up time for writing (and getting enough sleep), you’ll need to make some super smart choices. You’ll probably have to stop staying up late, surfing the internet, playing Candy Crush, watching Netflix, reading your email, or whatever else you’re doing that eats time.

    You don’t have to stop doing these things, necessarily, but you can turn them into rewards for doing your writing. Just keep them corralled into an appropriate amount of time so you are putting your writing first and reserving the energy you need for writing. Oftentimes we do these things to “recharge” our energy, but it is worth checking in with yourself to see if they are actually recharging, especially past a certain amount of time spent.

  6. Take Care of Your Physical Body. When we write, we’re sitting for long periods of time. We have to take care of our bodies with stretching and exercise. I’m a fan of Pilates and yoga, myself, as well as eating lower carb, especially at lunch time, so I don’t zone out in the afternoons. I also make a point to drink plenty of water and other non-sugar beverages like tea and sparkling water. Think about what keeps you functioning optimally and be sure to put that in place alongside your writing time.
  7. Set Up a Support System and Create Accountability for Yourself. Embarking on a focused writing intensive is highly likely to trigger uncomfortable feelings. You’re taking a big step closer to reaching your overall goal of being a published writer or produced screenwriter, after all. That can trigger a cascade of doubts, fears of success and failure, and resistance. So set up a support system in advance of people you can turn to and lean on for help, if you feel yourself faltering.

    You can also create a system of accountability for yourself. This may be the same support system or it may be different. In my own case, I have outside supporters (friends and writing coaches) who are my support system, and my writing programs for accountability (the Deep Dive and the Circle). The primary distinction for me is that I tend to process challenging emotions with my supporters, while I rely the accountability for helping me stay on track and true to myself with my goals. The important consideration when setting up accountability is to have clearly named your goal and timeline so you feel that sense of internal responsibility to follow through.  

  8. Set Daily Goals to Support Your Overall Goals. While you’re working on meeting your larger writing goals, you’ll want to have broken them down into incremental daily goals too. Do this so you’ll know when you’re done for the day, and if you’re staying on track with meeting your larger goal. During the Deep Dive, we’ll be checking in every morning with our daily writing goals and our writing intentions for the day (see #9).
  9. Set an Intention for Your Writing. Setting yourself up for success includes being intentional about your writing practice, including thinking about the energy you want to bring to your writing each day. When I’m setting my daily writing goal, I like to think about the intention or energy I’ll focus on that day. I usually write it in capital letters somewhere, like PURPOSEFUL or FOCUSED. It helps to bring my attention to my intention when I do it that way.
  10. Reflect on Your Day, Each Day. At the end of the day, notice how it all went. What went well? Where did things go astray? Is there anything you can tweak or adjust for tomorrow? In writing, self-reflection is huge. It’s not about noticing “failures,” it’s about gathering information and learning and improving … and having fun with piecing together a puzzle that works. 
  11. Reward Yourself. Plan in advance how you’ll reward yourself at the end of your hard work, each day, each week, and at the end of your writing intensive. Is there a great treat you’ll reward yourself with? Something you wouldn’t normally give yourself? This might be just the right time to get it. :) 

Got questions?

Leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer. 

And check out Part I, here: Clearing the Decks, Part II, here: Reverse Engineer and Revise Your Goals, and Part III, here: Boost Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive).

 

Make Massive Progress on Your Book (or Script!)

The upcoming two-week Deep Dive Writing Intensive starts on Wednesday, September 20th and the last day to join us is Tuesday, September 19th. Join us and get tons of support and accountability to make deep progress on your book or script. Find out more and register here

 

Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals, Part III: Boost Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive)

Welcome back for the third part of my series, (You Can Still!) Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals. 

In last week’s posts I wrote about Clearing the Decks for your writing and Reverse-Engineering & Revising Your Writing Goals. Today I’m writing about boosting your progress. Next time I’ll talk about Setting Yourself Up for Success, so stay tuned for that posts, coming up soon.

Part III: Boost Your Writing Progress — Or, Design a Writing Intensive

In my last post, I wrote about reverse engineering and revising your goals. The reason to assess your 2017 writing goals now is that we’re within spitting distance of the end of the calendar year, and therefore the “deadline” for meeting 2017 goals …before the clock strikes midnight. 

Even if you’ve decided to shift your goals forward into 2018 (I’ve done this with one of my writing goals), you may still want to do an extra “push” with your writing this year to boost your progress and move the ball down the field a little farther than you might get if you a) aren’t writing as much as you’d like to, b) are catching up after a summer writing hiatus or slow-down, c) still want to try to meet your original goal, or d) need a leg up with your motivation.

Doing a focused burst of writing — a short-term writing intensive — is like doing a runner’s wind sprint, where you alternate slower, steadier walking or slow running with more intense bursts of faster running. So doing a writing intensive is about temporarily picking up your pace, then downshifting back into your regular writing habit. (You have a regular writing habit, right? If you don’t, check out my Circle for help.)

A focused stretch of writing can also serve another purpose: It allows you to go deeper into your writing. It’s about putting the focus more intently on your writing. It’s not just about writing faster or more — but it’s also about a quality of experience. Almost like carving out an at-home, immersive writing retreat for yourself. 

In the Deep Dive writing intensive I’m running (starting next week), we’re creating this deeper experience by “clearing the decks” — making space for focused, daily writing at a more intense level by eliminating obstacles and distractions. One of the things I talked about during the free clear the decks teleclass (which you can still listen to, if you’re interested), is mentally making space for your writing, including thinking about what you’re reading, watching, and thinking about during your writing intensive. 

Set Up a Writing Intensive for Yourself

Here’s a simple strategy for creating a writing intensive for yourself:

  1. Give yourself a clear time period within which you’ll complete your intensive, whether it’s a day, weekend, week, or month.
  2. Clear the decks for your writing. Eliminate distractions, set up your life so you can focus on your writing.
  3. Get crystal clear on your writing goal for your intensive.
  4. Have a plan for how you’ll complete your writing goal (more on this below).
  5. Implement your writing plan, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, step-by-step, task-by-task.
  6. Have a reward in mind you’ll receive when you finish.

Have a Plan to Meet Your Writing Goal

When you’re aiming to write efficiently, wind sprint style, you’ll make more of your writing time if you go into it knowing exactly what you’re working on. Sometimes writing is unwieldy at best, but you can still go into it with a clear intention and plan. 

The type of plan you develop will depend on where you are with your current book or script.

Here are samples of plans you could create for your writing intensive. The idea with all these plans is to give you a clear list of tasks to work through, one by one, so you can stay focused and efficient during your intensive rather than feeling overwhelmed, spinning in circles, or getting lost along the way.

  1. Story Development Intensive. If you’re developing a new story, you can create a list of items you want to have answered before you start writing, so you can be crystal clear on your work plan (and so you’ll know when you’re done!). For example, you may want to have your plot points identified, your premise line written, your character profiles developed, and a scene-by-scene outline created, among other things. Here’s my “Must Have” list before writing pages.
  2. New Writing Intensive. If you’re ready to start writing pages, you’ll hopefully already have your own list of story development items complete and ready to go so you can just jump straight into writing pages. If you don’t yet have your story developed, you could go back to the Story Development Intensive, and make your writing intensive about doing that work, or perhaps you prefer to just go for the “pantser” approach and write an intuitive stream-of-consciousness draft. That’s a perfectly reasonable approach, and many writers swear by it. I would be remiss in not saying, though, that it can create one of the biggest challenges I see for writers who then have a potentially massive, disjointed draft they then have to face revising and editing.
  3. Organization Intensive. Perhaps you’re at a different stage of work — the organization stage. Many writers spend years drafting various versions and pieces of a manuscript and then find themselves overwhelmed with all the parts and sections. If you’re in this boat, you’ll want to make a plan for how you’ll address getting it organized. I recommend you start by cataloguing what you have and where it’s located, along with a single sentence summarizing each section. While you’re at it, you may want to develop a numbering or naming scheme for your digital and paper files. Once you know where everything is, and what it is, you can move into developing a plan for adding additional writing or moving into the revision stage if you have everything you need (writing additional scenes or chapters can be a natural part of a revision plan, after all). Organizing is a great thing to tackle in an intensive because it’s one of those onerous tasks often best handled in a big burst of work.
  4. Story Analysis Intensive. If you’re at the stage where you have a draft, but you’re not ready to begin revising because you know your story needs more in-depth work, you may want to check out Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know * as a process for analyzing your work. Tackling this level of work could potentially become the entirety of what you do for a writing intensive, depending on how much time you have set aside, or it could be the first stages of a revision intensive.
  5. Revision Intensive. If you’re revising, I strongly recommend having a revision plan in place before you begin. You could use a Story Grid plan, or use a different approach. I’m a fan of Rachel Aaron’s revision approach in her book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love,* where she has you make a to-do list, a reverse outline, and a timeline for your story so you can more efficiently dip in and out of your story to make corrections and revisions. It’s also worth prioritizing your to-do list from largest to smallest changes, so you’re not undoing work if you suddenly cut a large swath of text.  
  6. Polishing Intensive. If you’re at the final stage, you can do a polishing intensive to spine and proofread your final draft. This may involve first doing a pass through the manuscript to make small changes throughout the text, then printing and proofreading the draft, then making the changes in the final version.

In my own case, I’m currently working on revising pages for the screenplay I’m working on. Since it’s a fairly major revision, the steps I’ve taken to get to this stage include:

  • Meeting with the producer I’m working with and getting his feedback and notes on the prior draft.
  • Summarizing our notes so I could see what needed to be changed and what would stay the same.
  • Reverse outlining the prior draft.
  • Reworking the GMC for the characters.
  • Reworking my Story Grid Foolscap for the overall story (and all of the many things that entails).
  • Reworking the plot points and handling the ripple-effect changes they created.
  • Creating a new scene-by-scene outline for the story, including a scene event, goal, motivation, and conflict for each scene. 
  • Collecting all the scenes from the prior draft that are rework-able and adding them into my new draft in Scrivener.
  • Starting to rewrite those existing scenes and write new scenes as I move through the script — and this is what I’ll be continuing to do before and during the Deep Dive.

Got questions? Comments?

Leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to respond. :) 

And check out Part I, here: Clearing the Decks, Part II, here: Reverse Engineer and Revise Your Goals, and Part IV, here: Setting Yourself Up For Success.

 

Make Massive Progress on Your Book (or Script!)

The upcoming two-week Deep Dive Writing Intensive starts on Wednesday, September 20th and the last day to join us is Tuesday, September 19th. Join us and get tons of support and accountability to make deep progress on your book or script. Find out more and register here

 

* Amazon affiliate link

Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals, Part II: Reverse Engineer and Revise Your Goals

Welcome back to the second part of my series, (You Can Still!) Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals. 

In Tuesday’s post I wrote about Clearing the Decks for your writing. Today I’m writing about reverse engineering and revising (if needed) your writing goals. Next up we’ll talk about Boosting Your Progress and Setting Yourself Up for Success so stay tuned for those posts, coming over the next several days.

Part II: Reverse-Engineer and Revise Your Writing Goals

The first thing you’ll want to do, when it comes to meeting your writing goals for 2017, is to remind yourself of what exactly your writing goals for this year are. Hopefully at or near the beginning of the year you sat down and wrote out your writing goals. Go find them and see what they say. For real. I’ll wait. :) 

If you’re already on track, great! 

If not, here’s where we come to the reverse engineering and revising part.

Often times goal setting involves a LOT of magical thinking, as I wrote about last time. At the beginning of the year, it’s easy to be romantic about what’s possible. Then unexpected things happen and it’s time now to get really realistic about what’s possible. So you have some choices to make.

First, think about whether you can still meet your writing goals as they stand.

There are now 78 working days left in this calendar year (including today)(69 for those of us with kids home for winter break). If you do the math on what you were intending to accomplish, is that realistic and doable?

For example, if you had intended to revise the remaining 60,000 words left in your 120,000 word book, that means revising about 800 words a day. That’s moderately reasonable, right? Of course there are variables, like the depth of revision you need to do, too, so you’ll have to mentally make accommodation for that.

On the other hand, if you were wanting to finish a draft of a brand new 80,000 word book, that means writing 1,025 words per day. Also fairly reasonable. 

This is great news, right?

But it also means getting pretty serious about meeting those daily goals. Like now, so you don’t end up binge writing and burning out or giving up in despair as December 31 rolls around. 

And, there are additional variables, like what you’re specifically working on, your writing pace, available time, if you want to write on weekends, or can’t write on weekdays.

For example, with revision, there are what I’ve come to call “black hole” chapters, thanks to one of my Circle members. These are the chapters where once you get into it, it’s not just a matter of light editing, but reworking the content in such a way that it requires scrapping it and rewriting it entirely and/or has a ripple effect throughout the entire book. So maybe you’ve just revised the 2,000 words in the chapter, but it took you five extra days to re-plot it and then rewrite it, and it also means that you now have more work to do throughout the whole book. Such is the nature of revision.

So realistically, let’s say this means you can really only revise the equivalent of 400 words per day, on average. That doubles the amount of time to complete the revision, putting you well into next year. Are you okay with that?

If yes, great!

If not, revise your goal to a new more accurate date. But then also create a daily writing plan that reflects this new daily goal of 400 words per day. 

(And just to be clear, I know “revising” 400 words per day is something of a misnomer, because sometimes we end up cutting 400 words and then we’re at zero! But I think you can combine both a time goal, e.g. 60 to 120 minutes per day of revising plus working through 400 existing words in your manuscript as a way of handling it.)

Second, if you can’t meet your original goal upon analysis, you have choices.

  1. As I mentioned above, you can revise your goal to a new target date next year.
  2. Or, you may want to revise your 2017 goals to reflect changes that have come up this year and let go of your original goals, and decide on new goals for this year that feel more doable, like getting to a specific milestone in your draft. For example, to the end of a specific section or chapter.
  3. Or, you can design a brief writing “push,” or intensive burst of writing, to move you closer to your goal more quickly, to help you pick up your pace and increase your chances of meeting your original goal. This is part of what we’re doing in the Deep Dive writing intensive. You can also do this on your own.
  4. Or, you may want to both revise your goal and do a push to meet it. It’s up to you!

Your choice will depend on a number of things.

  • Do you have a hard deadline you have to meet?
  • Will you be terribly disappointed if you don’t meet your original goal?
  • Is it worth it to you to make an extra push with your writing so you can meet your goal this year? 
  • Is doing a push possible for you right now? Is it worth the extra energy required?
  • Is your goal more complex than I’ve used in the examples above? For example, maybe you not only wanted to write the 80,000 word book but you also wanted to edit and self-publish it, which may not be realistic at this point.
  • Are you dealing with other life challenges you need to factor in? 
  • Has your writing situation changed, perhaps because of new writing agreements or contracts?

Third, once you’ve made a choice, revise your goal, if needed, and then map out a plan to help you meet it.

I like to use SMART goal setting, which I’ll be reviewing with my Deep Dive participants in our Goal Setting Call next Wednesday. Here’s the overview:

  • Specific (What are you working on?)
  • Measurable (How much are you aiming to accomplish in terms of words, time, or pages?)
  • Achievable (How and when will you do it? Is it doable?)
  • Resonant (Why are you doing it? Why now, and is it in alignment with the Big Why behind why you’re working on this project?)
  • Time Bound (By when will you accomplish this goal?)

And here’s my example:

  • Specific/What: Screenplay
  • Measurable/How much: 70 pages of new writing and rewriting, approximately 5 pages per day in the 14 days of the Deep Dive.
  • Achievable/How and when: Approximately 2 hours per day in the mornings, and yes, doable — I can usually write about 2.5 screenplay pages in an hour.
  • Resonant/Why: To submit to the producer I’m working with, Big Why: To tell a story I’m passionate about — the tale of a boy building a relationship with his father in a post-apocalyptic world.  
  • Time Bound/By when: By October 4th when we finish the Deep Dive. 

Doing this work, while sometimes a bit annoying :), helps you get realistic about what you can and want to accomplish and help boost your motivation and energy for achieving it.

Got questions?

Leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer. :) 

And check out Part I, here: Clearing the Decks, Part III, here: Boost Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive), and Part IV, here: Setting Yourself Up For Success.

 

Make Massive Progress on Your Book (or Script!)

The upcoming two-week Deep Dive Writing Intensive starts on Wednesday, September 20th and the last day to join us is Tuesday, September 19th. Join us and get tons of support and accountability to make deep progress on your book or script. Find out more and register here

 

 

Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals, Part I: Clearing the Decks (and a Free TeleClass!)

It’s back-to-school time. For many of us, regardless of whether we have kids or are going to school ourselves, this means we’re both recovering from summertime and tuning into the back-to-school fall energy. Which is usually highly motivating and exciting. 

It also means we’ve hit that moment where the end of the year is in sight.

If you take the time to think about it, this is the ideal come-to-Jesus moment for meeting your writing goals for 2017 — far better now than to try to pull out all the stops on December 15th. Maybe you didn’t get as much writing done this summer (or year so far) as you’d intended. Maybe you did. If you’re on track, more power to you! If not, this is a great time to adjust your course.

Goal setting at the beginning of the year is often a magical, inspired effort. And by magical, I mean, magical thinking. Somehow, in the thick of the holidays and year’s end, it seems as if the year ahead will not be filled with… anything! We’ll miraculously have oodles of time. We declare that we’ll finally focus and achieve things we haven’t achieved before. And then January happens. Then February. And March. And suddenly it’s end of summer and we feel like we have whiplash looking back trying to figure out where the time has gone.

I know I was unexpectedly affected by illnesses for much of the winter and spring, various challenges with my parents’ health, as well as all of the political happenings. I didn’t have space built into my writing plans for any of those things. I haven’t stopped writing, but I certainly haven’t been as efficient as I’d intended. I’m okay with that. Life happens. But I also still want to make a solid stab at reaching my goals for 2017.

My Deep Dive writing intensive is a big part of this plan for me. I’m looking forward to making a big boost of progress on the sci-fi script I’m working on to help me jump start a broader push through the end of the year. I’m also looking ahead, knowing the holidays are coming, along with my birthday, and my older son’s birthday (10!), plus flu and cold season, so I’m aiming to take action while the energy is here. 

Here’s where I’m starting the process. I’m writing this “(You Can Still!) Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals” series to help all of us bring awareness to the fact that the year end is a heck of a lot closer than we think. (There are 80 working days between today and the end of the year, and that doesn’t factor in winter break vacations for those of us with kids.)

Today, we’ll talk about Clearing the Decks to help you meet your writing goals.

In the next three posts we’ll cover Revising Your Goals, Boosting Your Progress, and Setting Yourself Up For Success

Part I: Clear the Decks for Your Writing

Clearing the decks for writing is a fascinating topic because it can be such a slippery slope — I don’t want anyone to decide they have to KonMari* their entire home before they can write — so it’s worth being mindful about how you approach this.

At the same time, when I’m looking at doing a two week stint of intensely focused writing, I know I’m going to have to make some extra space in my life to accommodate that. So I want to look to see, are there places in my life I can streamline, clean up, delegate, and clear out to make more room for my writing (and for me!)?

This is also a great time review any schedule creep that’s occurred — in other words, have I taken on any extra commitments that I perhaps should postpone or eliminate? Have I back-slid on scheduling my writing time or my resolve to meet it? 

I recently led a free teleclass to go over all this in detail. (It was be recorded so you can still listen to the recording.) If you’d like to listen, click here to join my mailing list and get the recording details.

Here’s a preview of some of what we’ll be talking about — I’ll be sharing tips about each of these as well:

  1. Logistically: What adjustments do you need to make to your schedule to make space for your writing? What events, guests, responsibilities, and commitments do you have coming up that you’ll either want to reschedule or decide how to accommodate around your writing? 
  2. Physically: What do you need to do to make your physical space more conducive to writing, if anything? Is there clutter? Are there distractions in your line of sight? How can you take great care of your physical needs with healthy food, snacks, beverages, sleep, and exercise? 
  3. Mentally: How will you reward yourself for writing? Are there any open loops you need to close or resolve so you can focus? How will you handle new writing ideas that may come up during your writing time? How will you handle negative self-thoughts if they come up?
  4. Emotionally: How will you handle emotional challenges that may arise around your writing? How will you handle non-writing emotional challenges? What support systems can you put in place?
  5. Digitally: How can you minimize or eliminate digital distractions so you can focus on your writing?
  6. Financially: What bill paying and other financial tasks can you handle now or automate so you can prioritize your writing? 
  7. Relationally: How can you guide your family, partners, friends, and colleagues to respect your writing time? 
  8. Spiritually: How can you spiritually prepare to make the most of your writing time? What intentions and positive visions are you holding for yourself as you write?


Click here to get the free Clear the Decks teleclass recording.

 

And check out Part II, here: Reverse Engineer and Revise Your Goals, Part III, here: Boost Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive), and Part IV, here: Setting Yourself Up For Success.

 

Make Massive Progress on Your Book (or Script!)

The upcoming two-week Deep Dive Writing Intensive starts on Wednesday, September 20th and the last day to join us is Tuesday, September 19th. Join us and get tons of support and accountability to make deep progress on your book or script. Find out more and register here

 

* The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

 

journey

Author Insights: Barbara Jacksha on Journeying With Our Writing (+ an Autographed Book Giveaway)

It’s time for another installment of our “Author Insights” series. In this series, I’m introducing you to writers who’ve taken their writing all the way to the finish line of publication, and they share their “lessons learned” with you. There’s nothing quite like learning from a writer who has made to the other side.

Plus, if you leave a comment at the end of this post before Sunday, August 6th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, you’ll be entered to win an autographed copy of the author’s book in a random drawing. Please note that you must be located in the United States to win.

Meet Barbara Jacksha, author of Vision Pages: a vision journal for imagining your dreams to life

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Barbara Jacksha. Barbara has been a member of my online Called to Write Coaching Circle since 2014, and is a literary fiction writer. She came to the idea for creating her vision pages journal through writing daily morning pages, and shared her vision pages ideas with the rest of us on our Circle forum. Her idea then took on a life of its own, becoming a tool she could share with other writers.

I asked Barbara to share her insights about writing and self-publishing this book with us. 

Barbara Jacksha on Journeying With Our Writing

Barbara JackshaMost of us have a sense of our writing dreams. We think we know where they will take us. But often, our writing dreams will pull us in unexpected, remarkable directions.

For years I wrote morning pages, filled journal after journal with wonderful observations, silly ramblings, and I must admit, a lot of complaining. One morning while writing about something that had gone wrong, I stopped. Why was I giving so much attention to what I didn’t want? Why energize that? What would happen if I only wrote about what I did want? That’s when my daily practice shifted to writing what I call vision pages: writing about what I want to have, do, be, and experience.

I loved it. I found the writing energizing, empowering, effective, and just plain fun. I told a few people what I was doing and got great feedback. That gave me the idea to create journals that would teach people how to write vision pages and give them space to play with their own dreams and visions. 

I’d never created a journal before, so this was brand new territory. I felt intimidated, uncertain, a bit terrified, but also insanely curious and eager to take off on this unexpected journey. As I wrote and designed the journals, I learned a lot about myself and about following my writing dreams.

Here are some of the insights I came to on my journey to creating the journal:

#1 Value what YOU have to say.

When I first realized that people were interested in vision pages, I was surprised. Apparently, a part of me believed that my ideas couldn’t be valuable to others. That belief is simply not true–for me or anyone else. We all have much to contribute, as people, as writers, and to share what only we can say is one of our biggest gifts to the world. Our dreams and inner visions tell us what we need to share. We just need to listen!

#2 Be open to the fresh and unexpected.

I never thought I’d create a journal. I never thought I’d create YouTube videos of my work, but that’s also on my to-do list. Following our writing dreams often means venturing into new territory, in what we write about and how we get our work out to the world. There are many fresh and interesting possibilities available to us now, and they seem to be expanding daily. Don’t hesitate to open a new door. Once you do, you may find that many others open to you as well.

#3 Keep learning new things.

To create these journals, I polished rusty Photoshop skills and learned Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign from scratch. Climbing that steep learning curve took patience and time, but now I have new skills I can apply any way I choose. Don’t let the need to learn something new stop you. Learning is always worth what you invest in it.

#4 Mine the wealth of your own experiences and let it support your writing.

Sometimes the idea of heading off in a new direction feels like you’re starting from scratch. But are you? In creating these journals, I called on skills I developed many years ago when I was a freelance business writer. What skills do you have in other areas of your life that can and do support your writing? Organization? Time management? Presenting to others? If we recognize the wealth of our own experiences, it can take the pressure off and help us see just how capable and prepared we already are.

#5 Relax and have fun.

Trying new things can be frustrating. We can get impatient or discouraged. One of the assignments I gave myself while creating these journals was to keep the process as relaxed and light as I could. When we relax, it’s easier to let our inner visions and knowing guide us. We’re also better able to let things in: new ideas, perceptions, information, solutions, you name it. As often as you can, let your writing be playful and relaxed. Let it be an exploration and adventure. I was amazed at the difference this makes, and I’m sure you will be too.

Maybe it’s time to have a cup of tea with your writing dreams and see where they’d love to take you next!

About Vision Pages

Vision PagesManifest your dreams using the power of imagination! Vision Pages takes journaling to the next level. When you write vision pages, you focus on what you desire to have, feel, be, and experience. It’s like creating a vision board, but instead of relying on other people’s words and images, you create with your own hand, using your own words, and write from your own inner wisdom and heart. Writing vision pages is both an immersive experience and a fun, empowering process that can bring about wonderful changes in you and your life. The Vision Pages journal briefly describes the four key steps to writing vision pages and imagining your dreams to life. The rest of the book is yours to fill with your life-changing visions.

Pick up your copy of Vision Pages on Amazon here (affiliate links*):

About Barbara

Barbara JackshaBarbara Jacksha is a writer and spiritual explorer. Her work centers around liberating and living our inner truth and bringing more magic into our lives. Barbara’s short work has appeared in a variety of publications including the W.W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward. She was an editor at flashquake and an editor and co-founder of the spiritual literary journal Cezanne’s Carrot. Barbara lives in the wilds near Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, three dogs, and several neighborhood coyotes. To see what else she’s up to, you can visit her website: www.barbarajacksha.com

Enter to Win an Autographed Copy of Vision Pages

Barbara has graciously offered to give away three autographed copies of her book to my readers. Leave a comment on the blog about one of your own writing lessons or something you learned from Barbara’s insights before Sunday, August 6th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time and you’ll be entered in the random drawing. Please note, you must be located in the United States to win.

 

* This is an affiliate link, which means my Called to Write business receives a small commission from any purchases you make using this link, and which I deeply appreciate.
Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

 

The Many Faces of Procrastination, Part II

Last week I shared Part I of this post about the many faces of procrastination, and the underlying reasons it shows up. It’s not necessarily “just” writer’s block or laziness, which are the common explanations I hear.

There are actually a number of variations on the theme of procrastination, and it’s usually driven by something deeper, like feeling stuck, being overwhelmed, being hooked by perfectionism, or wrestling with past creative wounds that need addressing — some of the examples I wrote about last week.

Let’s look at a few more of these writing-stoppers that show up as procrastination.

You’re creatively confused.

Creative confusion is one of the most fascinating causes for procrastination I’ve come across (perhaps because it’s one of my personal “favorites”). Creative confusion will have you spinning in circles, not sure which direction to go with your story, considering multiple ideas and perspectives, and feeling unable to decide among them. It’s as if everything suddenly has equal value and there’s no differentiating them. 

Part of the issue here is empowerment. When you forget that you’re the architect of your story and that there’s not necessarily a “right” way to write it, it’s easy to get confused. Confusion can also be a smokescreen for the fear that you’ll get it “wrong.”

Antidotes: Make the shift into action by being willing to do the work of sorting through your ideas by putting them on paper and evaluating them as objectively as you can. One of the ways creative confusion keeps you stuck is that it all happens very quickly in your head. Get it down, and figure it out. And remember that you’re the one in charge. It can also be helpful to talk it through with a trusted coach or writing pal who has your story’s best interests at heart (not her ideas for what you “should” do).

You’re feeling apathetic about your book (or script).

Creative boredom or apathy is another one of these super tricksters that can keep you locked into procrastination. You don’t write because it feels like you’ve “just lost interest” in your story. Interestingly, this usually happens when you’ve just hit (or are about to hit) a major milestone with your story, or you’re about to tackle the next stage. What’s happening here is that a new level of fear is cropping up and putting the brakes on to minimize your risks of failure.

In other words, it ain’t about the story. 

Antidotes: Keep on keeping on. The only way out is through. While there may be passages in your book that are need work, that’s a storytelling problem, not “time to give up on the whole project” problem. This is the place to commit to finishing, no matter what.

This is also a great time to remind yourself of your Why for the project — why you started writing it in the first place. Sometimes just tracking back to the Why will be enough to get you in action again.

You’re having trouble deciding which book to write.

This kind of procrastination turns up when you know you want to write or feel ready to write but you can’t decide which story to work on, or you decide on one, only to change your mind in short order, usually telling yourself it’s not good enough in some way, then look around for something else to work on, only to dismiss that one too. And the next one after that.

This kind of procrastination can also look like coming up with a bazillion ideas to work with but not being able to choose among them. 

Antidotes: Check out my free downloadable guide about how to choose your next book (or script) using decision criteria and intuitive decision making skills. You can also try one of my favorite bits of Steven Pressfield’s wisdom, which is to “figure out what scares you the most, and do that first.”

(If, on the other hand, you’re totally drawing a blank for any ideas at all, try Elizabeth Gilbert’s approach of paying attention to your faintest whispers of curiosity and see where they lead you.)

You’ve fallen out of the habit of writing and each day that goes by, it gets harder to restart.

If your writing practice has fallen apart — for whatever reason — procrastination has taken hold and it’s just not getting any better. Each day you tell yourself you’re going to write, but find endless distractions around the house, get caught up in work (or TV or candy crush!), tasks to take care of, or toilets to clean. This is “garden variety” procrastination in my book, but it’s still a doozy.

Antidotes: Set a very small writing goal and meet it. Then do it again the next day. And the next. Keep going until you have the practice in place. Troubleshoot any obstacles that come up — like falling into reading email or getting sucked into other tasks — and find ways to streamline your path to your writing desk each day. If you set a goal, and you’re still procrastinating, make the goal smaller until you actually do it. Get accountability to help you with this if you need it. (Work with me 1:1 or join the Circle, for example.)

You’re dealing with big personal changes.

Look, sometimes big life events happen and the idea of tackling writing at the same time feels (and may even be) impossible. Major illnesses, weddings, new romances, births, deaths, break ups, divorces, moves, and job changes are life changes that can get in the way of writing and then morph into “regular” procrastination even once the dust has settled. It’s okay. It happens. But it’s helpful to know how to deal with it when a big part of your identity is tied into being a writer and you start losing your sense of self while it’s all happening, and then wonder who you are when it’s done.

Antidotes: Be patient with yourself during the upheaval, and give yourself a little time for re-entry. You may want to have a “maintenance practice” of writing morning pages in place during these times, even as a placeholder until you can get back to your book or script writing efforts. Have a plan in place for how and when you’ll reboot your writing once you’ve made it through the thick of the experience. If you find yourself still struggling with your identity after the fact, do some journaling or coaching work to help get you back in touch with yourself as a writer.

You’re an adrenaline addict.

One of the most fascinating parlor tricks I see writers engaging in is creating an endless series of non-writing emergencies, deadlines, and disasters that make it impossible to write. This is procrastination at its peak form, because it becomes inarguable. Whatever “it” is, has become such an emergency, that it has to be done right now. At this point, it actually does. But when a writer lives this way, chasing from disaster to disaster, writing always gets to stay (safely) at the bottom of the pile.

The trickiest trick of all is that the purveyor of these hijinks deep down revels in the sense of excitement and in being the rescuer of the situation from certain doom. It turns out, writers who do this to themselves are addicted to the rush of it all, and they’ll even design it so they “get” to write this way too (at the last minute, in a mad panicked rush).

This strategy does two things. It’s a brilliant way of getting off the hook for doing your best work, because you simply can’t, not with all those emergencies to take care of. It’s also very clever way of getting an adrenaline boost of energy to face the terror of writing. 

Antidotes: Admit the addiction. Make a conscious choice to stop this behavior. Learn to pace yourself — with everything, including your writing — and get ruthless about cutting out anything and everything you don’t have to do. You don’t have to do everything and you don’t have to do it all perfectly. Cut some corners! 

You’re just plain tired.

Maybe you’re not exhausted, but “just” tired. Maybe you haven’t reached the point of creative burnout, like I mentioned last week, but maybe you have other non-writing commitments that tax you. Some of these are avoidable (volunteering for committees) and some are not (having little kids or an aging parent), but either way you’re tired. This tiredness becomes an excellent excuse for procrastinating. “I’m tired,” you say. “I just don’t have it in me today to write. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Antidotes: I’ve always loved the quote from David Whyte on this subject, “You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest? … The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” When it comes to the daily sort of tiredness that can leave us feeling run down (as opposed to massively burned out), writing regularly — even just in small amounts — is often the cure. Also, take a look at how you’re investing your precious life energy and see where there might be energy leaks you can shore up. Look for where you’re not feeling a “Hell, yes!” about the things you’ve committed to and think about letting them go. Work with a friend or coach to inventory your commitments and see what you can release for someone else to handle.

 

So… what did I leave out? What other ways have you seen procrastination show up?

Tell me in the comments section below. 

 

 

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

The Many Faces of Procrastination, Part I

When I work with writers to help them stop procrastinating, usually they don’t quite know why they’re doing it. They often end up labeling it as laziness or writer’s block. I can tell you that I’ve never met a truly lazy writer, and while I certainly have met some who are blocked, sometimes a little delving is required to uncover the deeper issues that are stopping them from writing.

Let’s talk about the spectrum of writing-stoppers that show up as procrastination.

You’re stuck.

You might find yourself procrastinating when you’re stuck. Maybe you’ve hit a section you aren’t sure how to deal with, or you need to rewrite some or all of your draft but you’re not sure where to start, so you just… don’t. This stuckness doesn’t take long to turn into procrastination, and soon, to full on avoidance.

Antidotes: Sometimes when you’re stuck, you need help to get going again. A plot coach or a writing friend often comes in handy here. Alternatively, you might want to write about the writing — this is a great time for some journaling and brainstorming to unlock your writing energy and ideas.

You’re overwhelmed.

Sometimes the sheer volume of work facing you will cause you to procrastinate. When you’re looking at a mountain, it’s hard not to feel the weight of it bearing down on you. 

Antidotes: The antidote for overwhelm is to find one small step to take. In other words, what’s the first thing you can think of, no matter how small, that you know you can do now? Then do the next thing. This is a great time to pick easy things to do too, because when you’re feeling overwhelmed, easy makes it doable. Sometimes I’ll just work on formatting for a bit to get myself back into the project, no matter how fiddly it is. No step forward is too small.

You’ve been hooked by perfectionism.

When you get stuck in believing that you must make your writing perfect or get caught up in visions of this being your biggest hit ever, you’ll be triggering procrastination faster than you might believe. Perfectionism, procrastination, and paralysis work together to create a vicious cycle that keeps you from writing, ever. Perfectionism is funny way of staying safe too, because if you don’t write it, you don’t have to see it being flawed and imperfect, nor can you be ridiculed for it.

Antidotes: Make peace with being an imperfect human being who values writing and finishing more than telling yourself whoppers about incredible success or massive failure that hold you back. Embrace the notion that only the divine is perfect, and decide that messy and done is so much better than not writing.

Your inner critic is freaking out.

When the voice of your inner critic starts getting loud and scary, it’s hard to keep writing, especially if you listen to it as if it’s the voice of truth and reason, rather than simply a terrified guard dog it trying to keep you safe. Also note that this voice will get louder and scarier the closer you are to the precipice of taking action, finishing a draft, or moving into a new level of your career. If those aren’t reasons to procrastinate, I don’t know what is!

Antidotes: First, pat your inner critic on the head and tell him/her that you’re going to take care of everything, you got this, and you don’t need any help protecting yourself. Then, one by one, rewrite the negative self-messages that swirl through your mind while you’re writing into positive, believable statements. Having a coach or witness for this work helps it land more deeply and take root in your psyche in a positive way. 

You’ve gotten feedback on your work and it’s affecting you.

Good feedback, bad feedback. Feedback period. All feedback affects us. It’s an energetic shock to the system that’s hard to absorb. We’ve been tenderly entwined with our beloved writing only to have it held at arm’s length by a stranger who cooly evaluates it. The stun from this can send you into a tailspin. And good feedback? Glowing feedback on your early chapters? That can be a recipe for triggering perfectionism and the anti-creativity cycle too, because suddenly you have to measure up to your existing work and you might not believe you can.

Antidotes: After giving yourself some time to recover from getting the feedback, take a deep, deep breath. Remind yourself who is in charge. (That would be you.) Evaluate the feedback as cooly as it evaluates your book. What do you agree with? Use that. What do you disagree with? Throw it out or save it for later re-evaluation.

You’re deeply exhausted and you’re self-protecting.

Sometimes you may procrastinate because you’re actually deeply tired or burned out, and reflexively protecting yourself from overextending. This may be the result of binge writing, pushing to meet deadline after deadline, or from being exhausted by a non-writing life circumstance.

Antidotes: Rest. Write for the love of it, if you’re called to do so, but make it easy, like journaling, and give yourself some time to recover. You will feel the call to write again. Trust me. 

You’re dealing with a creative wound that needs addressing.

When you’re not writing… and not writing… and not writing… and it’s just going on forever, sometimes there are deeper creative wounds that have gotten triggered and need addressing. Like that time you were ridiculed for daring to make art and express yourself creatively. Or how you were raised in a family culture that taught you that writing would never pay your bills and you were a fool if you pursued it. Or the scathing feedback you received from someone you deeply loved. Events like these leave open wounds in our psyches, like ghosts in the machine.

Antidotes: Revisit the events in a safe way (such as through visualization or journaling) so you can find the truth in the experience from a broader spiritual perspective. From there, you’ll be able to begin to find forgiveness for yourself and peace with the experience. Often these experiences happen to us when we are young, and having our more mature perspective helps us begin to shift how we feel about it now. While you can do this work on your own, working with a coach or witness who can hold a safe space while you’re processing what happened can accelerate your growth and ability to move past the pain.

And there’s more…

There are many more underlying reasons for procrastination, including creative apathy, confusion, adrenaline addictions, and more. Read Part II, here

When has procrastination most reared its head for you, and how have you dealt with it?

Share your stories and experiences in the comments section below.

 
 
Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

5 Tips for Making the Most of Summer Writing

It’s that time of year again… summer!

The days are getting longer, the weather is warmer, kids and teachers are out for the summer, and vacation season is here. There are so many reasons to put down your pen and turn off your computer and go outside… which I highly recommend.

All work and no play isn’t good for a writer’s soul, after all. 

And, at the same time, you’ll want to keep writing so you don’t lose your writing momentum or end up finishing summer feeling disappointed about where you are in your draft.

Here are five tips for making the most of your summer writing, while still enjoying the play time you need and deserve.

#1. Remember Why You Love Writing

While it’s highly useful to treat your writing with as much care and attention as you would a professional job… when we’re in the middle of this expansive summer energy, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that we’re also doing this because we LOVE it.

This helps create a more natural fit between the part of us that wants to have delicious summer adventures and the romantic side of our writing dreams. To that end, even while you’re putting your head down to write, play with matching your summer energy to your writing energy. You might light candles while you work, write in a café, or take your notebook to the beach. This is a great time of year to indulge your most vivid writing life dreams and make it fun.

#2. Be Aware of Magical Thinking

Over the last couple of weeks as I’ve developed our summer plans, I’ve found myself imagining doing a big chunk of writing on one of our vacations… And doing a big chunk of studying on one of our vacations… And maybe writing some promotional copy on one of our vacations…. and all of these on the SAME vacation. Talk about magical thinking! Even if I actually wanted to write and/or work during a trip (I don’t), I certainly can’t accomplish all of those things and have the time I want to have with my family. Sure, I could probably finagle an early morning writing session before they awaken, but I want my vacation for vacationing. 

Similarly, it’s easy to imagine that you’ll have so much extra time during the summer that you’ll be able to make wild progress on your work. I think this might be a holdover from when we were all in elementary school and summers seem to last forever and we have nothing to do… just the way we imagine that a new year will suddenly have so much more free time than we had in the last one. But we don’t. Even if you’re a teacher with the summer “off,” your days will quickly fill with all the things you’ve put off doing during the school year unless you’re mindful about it.

Instead, be realistic about what you can actually accomplish over the course of a summer. See how many days you have to write, and schedule them accordingly with your summer writing goals.

#3. Give Yourself Time to Play

We’re way more likely to do our work when we’re also giving ourselves time to play, rest, indulge, and enjoy. And since summer naturally lends itself to those things, it helps to set up a nicely balanced bargain between the two.

I find that writing as early as possible during the day allows me to have guilt-free down time and playtime in the afternoons, just as I find that when I’m writing when I’m home, I feel good about enjoying my vacations fully while I’m away instead of feeling guilty that I “should” be doing more.

Work hard, play hard, is an adage that fits the bill here… but you have to actually deliver on the play time to make this work.

#4. Plan for Reentry 

Taking time off from writing — generally anything more than 1 to 2 days off — tends to create a bumpy “reentry” back into it. So if you go away for a long weekend or a vacation, think about how you’ll reboot yourself with your writing when you get back.

In my Circle, we advise our writers to “go back to the beginning” of working in small increments of writing time if resistance kicks in when it’s time to pick the writing back up. A little accountability goes a long way here too (we offer this in the Circle if you need help).

So if you return from time away and find yourself struggling to get back into your book (or script), try writing for just 5 to 15 minutes to jump start yourself again. You can increase the time over the coming days as rapidly as feels doable to you until you’re back to your normal routine.

Use this guideline: The more resistance, the smaller the amount of writing time. 

#5. Have Fun, and Be Ready for Anything

Summer can be an “all bets are off” season. Between kids at home, weather variations, vacations, out of town guests, extra summer projects, and our own impulses to celebrate the summer, a lot can get in the way of writing.

The more you can be ready to roll with it — to have fun with it even, like you’re playing a “I wonder how much writing I can pull off this summer” game — the easier it is.

I find that a lot of this is about your mental attitude — if you’re expecting your summer to be just like the rest of the year, you’re more likely to get thrown off track. On the other hand, if you take an attitude that things are going to be more up in the air,  you’ll be more ready to take the writing time when it comes and just run with it. You’ll also be more likely to have contingency plans ready to go if something comes up, like having a portable writing kit, a flexible schedule, or a backup writing time slot later in the day if your morning writing gets interrupted. 

Have fun, writers, and happy summer!

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Author Insights: Elaine La Joie on Making Peace with the Possibility of Bad Reviews (+ an Autographed Book Giveaway)

And we’re back! It’s time for the next installment of our “Author Insights” series. In this series, I’m introducing you to writers who’ve taken their writing all the way to the finish line of publication, and they share their “lessons learned” with you. There’s nothing quite like learning from a writer who has made to the other side.

Plus, if you leave a comment at the end of the post before Friday, May 12th at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, you’ll be entered to win an autographed copy of the author’s book in a random drawing. Please note that you must be located in the United States to win.

Meet Elaine La Joie, author of The Empath as Archetype

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Elaine La Joie. Elaine and I have worked together in various ways over the past 15 years since we first met after attending the same coach training program. Elaine has gone on to become not only a coach but is now also a shaman, who specializes in working with empaths. Elaine has chosen the self-publishing path and has put out five books, now bundled into one in the The Empath as Archetype. Her books are particularly valuable for sensitives and empaths who find themselves stuck in challenging relationship situations. Being a shaman and an expert in the Enneagram Four, Elaine always brings a higher view of relationship interactions I find illuminating and freeing. 

I asked Elaine to share her insights about writing her books with us. 

Elaine La Joie on Writing The Empath as Archetype

Elaine La Joie

I had wanted to write ever since I was a child, but I always thought I’d write fiction. However, after coaching empaths for a few years I found myself writing non-fiction.

At first I wrote short essays for my blog about topics that came up during client sessions that I thought most empaths would appreciate.

Then, as I expanded my knowledge base from plain coaching to the Enneagram to shamanic energy work, I found myself explaining these concepts to new clients, which took too much time away from diving into the healing work, so I decided to write a guide that clients could read before they started working with me.

Structuring a Complicated, Massive Topic

However, the book I imagined was complicated. I was bringing together topics from the Enneagram, shamanic energy work, and archetypes, and then writing specifically for the empath archetype. It was overwhelming.

Instead of writing I found myself spending time thinking about how to arrange this massive treatise, which led to frustration and procrastination. I solved this by going back to observing my clients and what we needed to unravel and work on first before major progress could be made.

This helped me see the three disparate topics my clients needed to understand before they could achieve deep healing and shift their ingrained patterns, and I organized my work accordingly. I wrote three books about the archetypal drama triangle, which is particularly problematic for the sensitive empath, shamanic energy work, and the enneagram archetype of the empath. I published these on my website.

Navigating Expanding My Reach with Amazon

Once I had self-published the books on my site, I had a few sales, mostly from new clients and others curious about my work. The feedback was good, but small. I kept writing, this time shifting to major case studies with the assumption that the reader had absorbed the concepts in the first three little books.

Because I wanted to expand my reach, I started looking into how to upload my books to Amazon. Luckily by the time I was ready to publish on Amazon, they had made the process relatively straightforward and free with both their digital system (Kindle) and their softcover publisher (CreateSpace).

But I noticed that I was procrastinating again—the thought of having my books reviewed by the general public was for the most part scary and unappealing.

Making Peace With the Possibility of Bad Reviews

My books were written for a very specific audience, an empath who wants to change his or her life. A non-empath would not understand these books. An empath that was interested but not ready to look at the shadow work required to heal themselves would most definitely find my books upsetting. They might leave rotten reviews. In many ways I felt like I was setting myself up to be misunderstood and misrepresented.

At the same time, I knew this work would be helpful to that segment of the population of empaths who were ready to dive in and do the deep healing work.

So, I had to prepare to get bad reviews. I made two shifts with my thinking that helped tremendously:

  1. I made a conscious decision not to take any reviews personally and to trust the work would reach the audience for whom it was intended. Because I am an empath, and empaths tend to take everything personally, I had to remind myself that my feelings in the moment would pass; I should honor my feelings, but not take them too seriously, even the happy feelings around good reviews. This helped me be both less attached to good reviews and less fearful of bad reviews.
  2. I reminded myself that personal work for anyone is very difficult, and that it is a common human behavior to shoot the messenger. My work is all about being the messenger for people who are hurting and wanting to heal themselves. In doing one-on-one work with clients, it is relatively easy to match my client and maintain a relationship that works for both of us, but every once in a while a client tries to shoot the messenger. It doesn’t happen often because we have built up a relationship of acceptance and trust, but when it does, I don’t take it personally because I understand the nature of healing work and the role of the shaman. Once I started thinking of my writing as working one-on-one with my favorite clients as my audience, it was easier and less scary to move forward. However, because I wasn’t really working one-on-one with each reader, it was guaranteed that I would be shot down at least one time out of ten.

Luckily for me, most of my readers so far have wanted to do the work, so most of my reviews on Amazon have been very good. Many empaths can be shy, so I receive much more positive feedback through emails than through reviews, which is also heartening. There are awful reviews as well, such as one from a reader who gave my last book one star after starting with it first instead of last. This person did not to read the other books, but gave them all one star reviews anyway. This was both amusing and upsetting at the same time, but in the grand scheme of things, the work is out there, and people can take it or leave it, just as they take or leave one-on-one session work.

Overall my writing experience has been a very good one. I have been very lucky to have a niche in which to write. I also entered self-publishing right when the process became easy and straight forward.

As it turned out, the literal process of self-publishing was easy—the hardest step was moving past my fears and putting the work out there.

About The Empath as Archetype

The Empath as Archetype by Elaine La JoieThe Empath as Archetype contains the first five volumes of The Empath as Archetype series by Elaine La Joie, including:

  • The Empath and the Archetypal Drama Triangle
  • The Empath and Shamanic Energy Work
  • Motivations of the Empath
  • The Empath and Shadow Work
  • The Empath and the Fan-Hero Family System

These books, written over seven years, are a compilation of case studies of Elaine’s clients, and are now available in this collected edition.

Elaine begins with the Archetypal Drama Triangle, explaining the most common archetypal system humans can be caught in, but gives examples particular to empaths. She moves on to describing shamanic techniques including Soul Retrieval and Underworld Work, used in her practice to help her clients heal wounds common to empaths. Next comes a description of the most typical blindspots and faulty beliefs for empaths as described by the Enneagram Type Four and how to change to more productive beliefs and behaviors. In the final two volumes she explains particularly troublesome relationships in which empaths can become entangled, including the common family system that can produce the narcissistic personality.

The Empath as Archetype is available on Amazon.com.*

About Elaine

Elaine La Joie, shaman and certified life coach, has worked with empaths and highly sensitive intuitives for more than ten years. During that time she has helped empaths understand themselves and their relationships while using shamanic energy healing to resolve past traumas, including severe abuse. These books offer empaths insight into their relationship and into the hidden motivations of themselves and others so that they can understand their loved ones and create the lives they truly desire.

Please visit Elaine’s website at https://secure.clearreflectioncoaching.com for more resources for empaths.

Enter to Win an Autographed Copy of The Empath as Archetype

Elaine has graciously offered to give away three autographed copies of her book to my readers. Leave a comment on the blog about one of your own writing lessons or something you learned from Elaine’s insights before Friday, May 12th at 5 p.m. Pacific Time and you’ll be entered in the random drawing. Please note, you must be located in the United States to win.

 

* This is an affiliate link, which means my Called to Write business receives a small commission from any purchases you make using this link, and which I deeply appreciate.

 

Scared of Being Ungrounded by Success?

When you imagine yourself into your own future writing success, how does it feel? Is it exciting but terrifying, all at once? Do you imagine yourself changed irrevocably by your fame and fortune? Do you sense yourself being overwhelmed by attention, energy, and even money? Will you still be a good person?

Will success change you?

A Sneaky Kind of Resistance

I’ve seen in myself and others this terror of success manifesting as a very sneaky kind of resistance. We self-sabotage because we’re afraid we can’t handle the success. Another way to think of this is as an “upper limit problem,” where you thwart your future success by imploding in the here and now, even in the smallest of ways.

Does “I just don’t feel like writing today” ring any bells?

Under the terror is a fear of losing your very sense of self as a result of being successful. As if you’ll be so overloaded with the intensity of success that you’ll transform into chaotic energy that floats you away into nothingness.

Sometimes we stop ourselves from writing because we’re afraid to fail.

And sometimes we stop ourselves because we’re afraid to succeed.

Symptoms of a Fear of Success

It could be as simple as procrastinating or being a perfectionist, but it might also look like taking on so many tasks that you can’t write, failing to do your best work, stopping just short of finishing project after project, fearing that you’ll betray your loved ones if you succeed or are happy, or even allowing emergencies to erupt and backlogged work to accumulate so you can’t write (or write well) because you have too many demands on your time, space, and energy.

Interesting how those symptoms match both a fear of failure and a fear of success, isn’t it?

Addressing a Fear of Success

But the solution for moving past the fear lies in understanding which fear it is.

Having a fear of failure means needing to adjust your mindset about what failure means.  

If you’re struggling with a fear of success, though, the solution lies in bringing yourself into the here and now, into this moment, right now, reading this piece with me, and remembering that you get to decide how to handle your life. You’re the author of your present, and your future. You get to practice being grounded, centered, present, and calm, right now, right here. You get to make decisions and plans for your money, time, and energy now, so that when success arrives you’re well prepared for it.

So just breathe with me, right now. Notice the air, the light, the sounds around you. Take a deep inhale, and then let it go. You don’t have to worry about the future right now, because you’re getting ready to be your future self, one step at a time.

Your job, right now, is to calm and soothe yourself. To bring your attention back to the work you’re doing right now. The learning you’re having right now. One step at a time.

Enjoy it.

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* This is an affiliate link, which means if you sign up for the course after clicking it, I will earn a small commission, which I deeply appreciate. Thank you for supporting Called to Write!