Big Dream Actioneering Report #1: Temper Tantrums & Excuses

Here’s my first official weekly check in for my “Big Dream” Actioneering. All I can say is, man alive. It’s really been two weeks, or something. Read on for details. I hope next time to be more brief. :)

It has been nothing if not interesting to observe myself and all the machinations I’ve gone through as I’ve brought myself closer to claiming my Big Dream of becoming a writer.

Here’s my update:


Well, for starters, as soon as I made the public commitment to write 4 times per week, I found myself in the quandary of putting on a live event and heading out of town, both of which required an extra level of preparation and definitely disrupted my normal routine.

Then, when we came back from L.A., I promptly came down with the “cold of the decade” and found myself completely uninterested and unwilling to write (or work, for that matter) while taking care of myself and my son, who was also sick. I promised myself that this week, I’d get back on track. And I did. Well, sort of.

Really, though, I see the cold as a giant temper tantrum. Julia Cameron describes a kriya (Sanskrit) in The Artist’s Way as “spiritual emergencies or surrender,” something designed to get our attention and say, hey, “Get it?”

I feel like this is a similar situation — On some level, I’m resisting doing the Big Writing because it terrifies me, so I choose to get sick and busy as a way to avoid doing it. Pretty creative, right?

It’s also fascinating to watch my inner critic pester me with, “it’s not creative enough, it’s not good enough,” etc.

Which reminds me, my 3rd submission, “The Gospel According to Lucky,” for the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge did not get me through to the next round, but I got some great feedback and decided I like the story enough to want to rewrite it.

So I sent it off to some writing friends for feedback, and holy smokes, did my inner critic ever go into overdrive. He (yes, my inner critic is a he) was going all crazy about why they hadn’t gotten back to me yet, that they hated it, that they were writing each other about how bad it was and couldn’t figure out what to say to me, etc. etc.

Luckily I didn’t buy it and busted my I.C. by telling my husband about what he was saying so we could both laugh at him.

One more little temper tantrum: I’m writing this on Saturday instead of Friday like I’d planned. Jeez.

Progress & Celebrations

The good news is that I DID work on my big screenplay (the title is in flux so I can’t tell you what it is yet) and I was able to outline the story even more. It’s a fascinating project. It seems like every time I sort out one bit of the story, I find 10 more unanswered questions to address. I swear this thing will just write itself once I get all these questions answered.

I’m also thrilled that I made it to the 3rd round of the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge. That was my goal and I met it. Woo-hoo! I also received some extremely helpful feedback from my writing buddy so I’m planning to rewrite that script soon. (No, he didn’t hate it, he said, “I dig the script.”)

Another thing I’m super happy about is watching my creative process around writing unfold. Who knew it would be this way? I certainly have my ups and downs, but I’m finding that I like to toss around ideas and play with them until I feel solid about the “big ideas” and then I start writing. I like that. :)

Plus, joy of all joys, my husband and I are writing a short story, called “Angel of Misfortune” for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. It’s due today. Can I tell you that ever since I met this man I’ve dreamed of us writing together? It’s so fabulous! And I think the story is pretty good. Oh joy. :)

What about you? What did you accomplish with your Big Dream this week? Join me with your challenges and celebrations in the comments below.


In the spirit of Havi Brooks’ “Comment Zen,” I have this request:

Since I am exploring how to be more transparent, raw, vulnerable, and in my full, messy delicious creative energy in my posts, here’s what I would love to hear:

  • How you personally are doing whatever I’m writing about for yourself.
  • How my writing sparks something for you.
  • About your own stories, ideas, musings, and wonderings.

And I would love to skip:

  • You feeling like you need to take care of me, give me useful suggestions, or other well-meaning but unsolicited advice.

Thank you!


p.s. I just had a brainstorm to do an Artist’s Way support group for a low monthly fee. Anyone interested? Let me know.

p.p.s. If you missed my free call on Friday on “Finding Your ‘Big Thing’,” you can check out the recording here.




  1. Hi Jenna. I just want to say that the entire story in your post inspires me, helps me feel normal, and like we are all in this together. Thank you. Mary

  2. Jenna,

    It’s so good to hear where you’re at in achieving your Big Dream! In reading your story here, I was especially sparked by the bit about watching your creative process unfold. That instantly took me skyward to have a look at my own. I saw that my bouts of anxiety are something to include in mine. It seems that I must get to a point of compulsion around seeking answers that ends up exploding all over me in such a way that what lands is the stuff that I was looking for to begin with. It takes that level of “freaking out” for me to be simultaneously vulnerable and powerful enough to blast apart the information at hand and present myself with the next evolution of my creation. Don’t know I’m making sense, but it’s working for me!

    Thanks for letting me see my story in yours!

  3. Jenna, I have to say that your writing about your creative process gives me permission to have all my issues around creativity! And, I’ve noticed too that frequently when I commit to something (currently it’s my novel I’m continuing to write after quite some time away from it), “suddenly” my life will seem to become chaotic and overwhelmingly busy, like the universe is testing my commitment.

    Thanks, Jenna, I can’t wait to read more about your journey!


    • Isn’t that fascinating? “‘Suddenly’ my life will seem to become chaotic and overwhelmingly busy.” Resistance is so creative, isn’t it?

  4. Hey Jenna,

    Congrats on making it to round three! And for co-writing a story with your husband. Those both sound Big to me. I attended a “write a one woman play” workshop last week. Every since I saw the talented and witty Spaulding Grey do three of his one man shows (I was laughing so hard I was crying), I’d been wanting to write one. Now, I’ve got more of an idea of what I’d like to do and how I’d like to do it. It’s a new writing area for me, but one I’m excited about entering.

    You AW group sounds like a lot of fun, too. You’re brimming with ideas all over the place.

    Inner Critics – I’d wrestled with mine for years (decades, lots of decades) before experiencing a breakthrough. I actually CONVINCED her that all this creative stuff was going to maker her life more enjoyable. She admitted she’d been scared before. Now, she’s encouraging me as much as anyone else. This just gave me a great BIG blog post idea! Thanks …


    • Thanks, G. :)

      Love the breakthrough re: I.C.s. Also curious to know: do you never experience any kind of doubt, hesitation, fear, negative thoughts, self-sabotage, projection, etc.? I’m curious because I am admittedly skeptical when people tell me they never face any inner negativity, self-doubt, etc.

      • Jenna,

        Yes, sometimes I still experience self-doubt. It abates rather quickly, though, because of the hard work I’ve already done. For example, at the beginning of a new essay or painting or song or design project, I sometimes feel like I’m facing a giant blank wall of creative difficulty. Once I dive in I’m fine and it starts cooking. When I look at the complexity of some of my paintings I can’t even imagine I had the courage to start them and here they are finished!

        It’s probably not possible for any human to never face fear of any kind. The fear of life probably being the greatest one. To live fully scares the crap out of most folks.

        The more I do things the less I fear them. For example, I used to be terrified of singing songs that went up high, now I just go up with it because I made myself sing those kinds of songs.


        • Yes, that’s my experience too. I think the key is knowing to dive in anyway — and even to look for the places where the IC freaks out THE MOST and GO THERE, fast. :) He gets the loudest where there is really something worth doing.

          Thanks for writing back.

  5. Jenna,

    I notice you say “becoming a writer” — methinks you are a writer already :-)

  6. Jenna, congrats on what you have accomplished. I remember when I started writing how books just wrote themselves so I loved that reminder as I write my next book. Yes, I’m creating another book because I love to write so much even though one of my friends says, ‘enough already!’

  7. Fresh off a nervous breakdown of my own over a new program launch. My inner critic had me yelling at my mother about how she never believed in me. Oh, wait, that might have been me, I’ll have to let you know. After the tantrum things are moving along just fine.

  8. Jennifer Carmack says:

    I missed this post initially. After I stated my big dream of being ‘out’ and writing and speaking and starting a website, I came down with a sore throat and laryngitis. I could still write, but I literally lost my voice. I had a shamanic-type experience where I coughed and choked and vomitted and felt an enourmous release and as if I’d healed (continued healing/began healing) something important so that I could make the next turn on the Big Dream journey. Deep.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.