How to claim–or reclaim–your identity as a writer

If you’re struggling to claim your creative identity as a writer — or to reclaim it — there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Write regularly. Consistent daily writing will help you find your way back to your writing identity. Binge-bust writing patterns don’t create a sustainable sense of identity. Writing on a regular basis does.
  2. Introduce yourself as a writer. Decide that you are a writer and say so when you talk to people. If you’re on social media, put “writer” on your account profiles.
  3. Validate yourself as a writer. Stop looking for permission outside yourself to known or validated as a writer. Reward yourself for overcoming the resistance to writing EVERY DAY.
  4. Be clear about what it means to be a writer. Try on the idea that writers write. And then make sure you’re doing that. Try letting go of the idea that you have to be paid before it “counts”. Or published. Or on the big screen. Writers write.
  5. Take your dream of writing seriously. Don’t treat it as something to be shoehorned in around the edges. Design your life around your writing — not the other way around. Align all your levels of experience (surroundings, beliefs, values, actions, etc.) with your writing.
  6. Look for positive messages about writing. There are lots and lots and LOTS of people out there ready and willing to tell you how impossible it all is, that you/they will never make it, and it’s too hard. Choose to put yourself around people who know there is always a way in, even if you/they haven’t found it yet.
  7. Surround yourself with other (positive) writers. Your consciousness is affected by the people around you. Put yourself in situations where other people see you as a writer (classes are a great place to start). If you’re on social media, fill your feed with writers. Hang out with writers — but make sure they’re the writers that know that succeeding as a writer is possible.

Thanks for reading!

I always love to hear what you think in the comments.

If you’re in Berkeley, join me this Friday for a workshop at HackerMoms called “Claim Your Identity as a Writer.” This special in-person workshop will be a combination of a “green fire” release ceremony to let go of our old identities and an NLP process to integrate the new writer’s identity we want to hold. http://bit.ly/HM-writer-identity

Warmly,

 Jenna

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How to tell if you are a writer, or not

I’ve seen a number of debates and blog posts and flow charts on the internet over the last few months about how to tell if you are a “real” writer or not. This is something people struggle a lot with when it comes to their creative identity.

The bottom line of these conversations is this: Writers write. If you’re a writer, you’re writing. And, if you’re paid to write, you’re a professional writer.

As a general rule, I agree with these notions.

However!

And this is a big however: I believe these ideas are doing a grave disservice to people who WANT to write but haven’t found their way to it yet. And to the writers who have written — but for whatever the reason — aren’t writing right now.

It’s pretty discouraging.

As a coach, I hate to see discouragement happening out there in the world.

I hate to think of all the people NOT writing right now because they’ve bought into this notion that since they’re not writing YET, they must not be writers — at least not in the core sense of who they are and who they can become.

Even one of my writing idols, Joss Whedon, practically undid me when he said, “You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing.” Since I wasn’t writing “enough” at the time, I thought, “Wait, does this mean I’m not a writer? Or that I can’t be a writer?

So there are all these intense messages out there in the world telling you that you’re not a writer if you’re not writing. And okay, again, I see the point.

But, what if:

  • You have a massive amount of fear and resistance about writing, even though you’ve always dreamed about writing, and you don’t know how to deal with it.
  • You’re stuck with your project and you don’t know where to go next.
  • You’re blocked, you can’t pick a project to focus on, or you’re paralyzed by performance anxiety or perfectionism.
  • You’ve just suffered a major loss of a loved one or gone through a horrific breakup and you’re in the throes of grief, and you can’t find your way back to the page.
  • You’re caught up in the myths about writing (like not having enough time or money so you think you can’t write).
  • You haven’t yet built your writing habit skills, and you’re writing irregularly or inconsistently at best.
  • You’ve bought into the belief that you have to be naturally talented to be a writer so you aren’t even giving yourself a chance.
  • You believe you need more training or skills before you can write.

In my opinion, you are still a writer — at your core — even under these conditions. Yes, a writer who needs support, discipline, and structure to help get back on track. But still a writer. It means you are a writer who needs a jump start, or maybe a little coaxing to come out of your cocoon and into the world.

The thing is, if you’re called to write, you must write. And if you’re buying into this story, “I guess I’m not a writer because I’m not writing”, you will NEVER write. That’s not okay with me. I believe that our souls speak to us about what we are meant to be doing — they know WHO WE ARE at a deep level. And so even if you haven’t CLAIMED that dream yet, it’s still yours for the taking.

So let’s help you claim that dream and start writing. It’s your soul calling to you, after all.

Thanks for reading!

I always love to hear what you think in the comments.

A quick heads up that if you want a jump start to get you writing, I’d love to help. My Writing Reboot sessions are just the ticket. But don’t get one now because they’ll be in my annual birthday sale this weekend at a ridiculous savings.

Or, you might also be interested in my Writer’s Circle to you help build a regular habit and get the support of other writers to keep on writing. The last day to register is tomorrow, Wednesday, November 27. We’d love to have you join us.

Warmly,

 Jenna

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The struggle with creative identity

Last week I met with a group of 13 moms to talk about “Designing Your Writing Life as a Mom”. I was struck by the disconnect many of the mothers were experiencing around their creative identity, which is something many writers struggle with, parents or not.

Observations about creative identity

Here’s what I noticed about creative identity through talking with these moms and working with writers through my Writer’s Circle. And certainly the question of creative identity is not specific to writers, either, it translates across all forms of creative expression.

  1. When you aren’t owning your creative identity, you can feel out of step with yourself, like you neither belong here nor there. This is about not being in touch with a sense of thinking of yourself as a “writer” or an “artist” yet — or ever. (Some people don’t like labels of any kind, but that’s not quite what we’re talking about here.) It’s about having a deep sense of inner rightness connected to how you think of your answer to the question, “Who am I?”
  2. Coming to terms with your identity as an artist or writer can require dealing with old expectations and limiting beliefs about what it means to be creative. Sometimes, I find that these thoughts and beliefs revolve around negative perceptions of creativity as flaky and ungrounded. Sometimes this can also mean letting go of expectations — and previous self-incarnations — of wild and prolific creativity, especially when faced with Real Life challenges (like parenting, care giving, careers, and day jobs).
  3. As a culture we tend to diminish or devalue writing and creativity, so sometimes we resist calling ourselves by those identities. We’re afraid to be laughed at or seen as not being serious by our peers in “real” jobs.
  4. As a culture we tend to also exalt creative expression only for certain types of artists or writers (usually “talented” or “successful” in a certain way), and we feel ashamed to try to claim our creative identity “too soon.” I see this a lot in the debate about when we can consider ourselves “real” writers. Do we have to be published first? Do we have to be paid first? Many writers, including me, feel that if we’re writing regularly we can call ourselves writers. I see this showing up when people say, “I am a struggling writer” or “I am a wannabe writer.”
  5. Going through a major life transition can challenge your creative identity, like motherhood, major loss, career change, or divorce. I imagine this challenge could come in a good sense — helping us more fully claim our identities — or in more challenging one, where we lose all sense of ourselves and can’t seem to find our way back. Often this comes about when we make a transition from one career to another (even if it’s from one creative career to another). When I became a coach and left my urban design work behind, it took a long time to feel like a coach. When I became a writer as well as a coach, it took another solid chunk of time to transition into seeing myself as a writer.

Identity challenges coming out of an MFA program

One thing that also struck me when I listened to the mothers the other day was about how many of them had been through MFA programs and then into motherhood and now weren’t writing. I suspect there are a few components to that process. In the first place, an MFA program can be an extremely intense phase of writing time — even binge-writing — which can be quite exhausting and requires time to recover from. I can still remember how finishing graduate school myself felt like hitting a brick wall — intense action followed by a sudden, total full stop that left me adrift, much in the way a rushing river spilling out into a lake or ocean suddenly loses its force.

There’s also a major shift in community. One writer I interviewed about going through an MFA program said, “There is a sense of loss in leaving an MFA program. You’re surrounded by people who really care about writing, and then when you leave, you need to find a way to get continued support for your writing, and it’s not easy.”

On top of that, while an MFA program can be about becoming a writer in a very real sense, the focus is primarily on craft, and not so much on developing a consistent writing practice. My interviewee commented, “When I graduated, it was like I reentered the ‘real world’ and realized that, while I’d no doubt become a better writer, I hadn’t developed consistent, sustainable writing habits, which was about learning a whole new skill.” So it’s easy to imagine that writers coming out of an intense program might suddenly feel at a loss about how to continue — and even start to wonder who they are as their entire foundation changes.

Next time we’ll talk more about how to reclaim your identity as an artist or writer if you’ve lost it or you’re struggling to claim it.

Thanks for reading!

As always, we love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Warmly,

 Jenna

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When are you a writer?

Writers often come to me saying that they haven’t bought in to the notion of being a writer “yet.”

If you’re feeling that way, the reasons can run the gamut.

It can come up when you aren’t writing consistently.

Or it may be that you feel like you aren’t a “real” writer because you haven’t been published, sold anything, or been hired to write anything — yet. Or that you’re not earning your full time living from your writing yet.

It can also come up in the way that you think about yourself and who you are in the world.

The two most powerful words in the Universe

The two most powerful words in the Universe, according to my spiritual teachers, are “I am.”

“I am” is a phrase we use to define ourselves.

When it comes to writing (or any endeavor of the heart, for that matter), how are you describing yourself?

I shudder when I see people say, “I am a struggling filmmaker” or “I am an aspiring writer.”

I do not think that means what you think it means

My shudder may be more apparent to you when it comes to the first phrase, “I am a struggling filmmaker,” but just in case, let me explain. “I am struggling” is the key phrase in that sentence, not “I am a filmmaker.”

The phrase, “I am struggling” sets you up to experience, focus on, and even seek out struggle. Our subconscious minds are like drive through window servers, saying, “And would you like a side of fries with that struggle?” 

Your subconscious mind doesn’t judge or evaluate the quality of where you are putting your attention or whether it is the “right” thing for you. It simply sets out to fulfill the request. “Okay, struggle, let’s see, how can I create some of that?” And voilà, it’s yours.

Similarly, in the second example, “aspiring” is the key word. When you say you are an “aspiring” anything, you’re coding your subconscious to keep you perpetually in the mode of aspiration — never actually reaching or achieving.

The debate ensues

I’ve had some interesting debates about my point of view with people online on this subject. One writer was very proud of and attached to the notion of struggle. He felt like he never wanted to give up the struggle to write, because it showed his determination to wrestle with the challenge of it all. I can see that.

I’ve also wrangled with a few folks over whether or not it’s “fair” for writers who haven’t been published yet to claim the “title” of writer. To them I say, and what of the script jockey who may never be “published” (if their work doesn’t make it to the silver screen) but are paid for their work? Or what of the writer who toils religiously for years without compensation or recognition? Are they not writers? Are they not engaged in the act of writing?

And what if you’re not writing consistently?

For the writers in waiting who want to write but feel unjustified in claiming the title because they aren’t writing much or at all, the difference will come when you begin writing regularly.

“Writers write” is one of those brilliant truisms that applies best in spirit. By that I mean, the very act — the practice of writing regularly — is what brings truth to the title.

When you want to write

I’ve said before that Joss Whedon (a screenwriter I admire very much who wrote Firefly, Serenity, and The Avengers) almost did me in when I saw that he had said, “You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing.” At the time I wasn’t writing “enough” (my own standard) and I felt that since I wasn’t driven by passion to write frequently and fervently, maybe I didn’t have what it takes.

Wrong.

What I lacked was the knowledge of the basics about being a productive, consistent writer. I didn’t have the tools I needed to know where to start, or how to manage myself in such a way as to be an effective, regular creator.

Permission is everything — and it comes from within

I also held back from giving myself permission to claim the title of writer.

In the end, they came together. I did some NLP work on my creative identity as a writer and redesigned my life and my work around my writing (I can help you with this too, coming soon).

And once I was taking regular action to write, I became the writer I know myself to be.

Your turn

I always love to hear from you. What do you think, when is a writer a writer?

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

 

 

Who Do You Think You Are?

When it comes to sharing your Art with the world (and by that I mean the art, writing, music, healing, or message you’re here to get out into the world), who do you think you are?

A common stumbling block for so many clients is that very thought: “Who do I think I am? What makes me special?”

You’re Not Special

My teacher Sonia once said to me, “You’re not special,” when I was doubting whether or not I was “qualified” to participate in a particular training event.

It made my Enneagram Four-self smile. (In a good way.)

I say this to you too, “You are not special.”

You too, have important pieces of work to share with the world.

Your work is just as important as my work or anyone else’s work.

We each have our part to play, or contribution to make, small or large, far-reaching or local.

Are you doing your part?

Who Do You Think You Are?

Most of us have heard this question, “Who do you think you are?” at some point in our lives, usually when someone else thinks we are getting too big for our britches.

(And most of us could use a little more bigness in this department so it’s too bad that happens, IMHO.)

And yet, having a clear strong sense of who you think you are is a powerful foundation for the choices, actions, decisions, and priorities you make, do, and set in your life.

You’ll make an entirely different set of choices if you think of yourself as a screenwriter or a messenger than if you think of yourself as a mother who can’t find time to write.

Even better: to think of yourself as a successful screenwriter or messenger!

Craft Your Identity Statement

Today in my Claim Your Creative Identity TeleCourse, we’ll be working on defining a clear, delicious Identity Statement that begins with the words, “I Am.”

Like this: “I am a successful, creative writer.”

I’d love to have you play along by posting YOUR statement of identity on the blog (and you’re welcome to join the class today if you’re inspired).

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What’s your Identity Statement?
  • Who do you think YOU are?

If you’d like some help working on this very topic for yourself — owning and claiming YOUR creative identity, you’ll want to register for my brand new class TODAY, June 28th, called Claim Your Creative Identity. I’d love to have you join me.

Coming Attractions

~> June 28th. Claim Your Creative Calling TeleCourse. That’s TODAY. Register now to reserve your spot and integrate a new behavior or new identity in your life. Details.

 


~> MONDAYS. Right Brain Business Planning with my buddy Kris Carey.

~> FRIDAYS. Sacred writing days. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Celebrating the 4th of July with my family.

 

The Make-or-Break Difference for Getting Your Creative Work Into the World

Changing the Way You See Yourself

If you’ve had your hands analyzed or done any visioning work with me, you’ll recognize that a big part of making your purpose real is being ready, willing, and able to adjust to and adopt a new, higher level way of seeing yourself.

It can take time to change your view of who you are.

And it isn’t always easy to do.

Imposter Syndrome, Anyone?

You might feel like you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, or like you can almost grab hold of that new identity but then it sort of slips away and you’re left grasping at nothing.

Regular Life Getting in the Way

I’ve seen it happen with my visioning clients — they get clear on their big vision, but then lose focus then when they go back to their “regular lives” or can’t quite remember how or why they decided what they decided — unless they have help to stay in touch with their new way of being in the world.

Un-Squashing Our Creative Selves

I’m also seeing this happen with creative types.

Yes, ideally being creative is easy and just flows naturally from us.

But that’s not what I see on a daily basis.

More often than not I see creative spirits squashed and held back by our own fears and doubts.

And even more fundamentally, by who we see ourselves to be.

How You See Yourself Makes All the Difference

For instance, if you think of yourself as a IT worker who is a writer on the side, it is a whole different ballgame than when you know you are a writer who happens to be doing tech work to pay the bills.

You’ll make different decisions, take different actions, and have different priorities.

And Therein Lies the Rub

And those decisions, actions, and priorities are the make-or-break difference between getting your creative work out there into the world versus walking around with a movie inside your head for the rest of your life, your manuscript gathering dust on your shelf, or your tribe never hearing the message you are hear to share with them.

It’s all about knowing who you are and doing the work to make it happen.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What this sparks for you?
  • How can you change the way you see yourself so you can MORE DEEPLY own and deliver your creative vision to the world?

 

An Offering

I’m offering a simple yet profound class next Tuesday, June 28th at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time to help you Claim Your Creative Identity, with a follow up Fine-Tuning and Q&A Session on July 7th.

It’s an affordable class that will give you tools you can use over and over again to help you make massive shifts in how you see yourself that will in turn help you:

  • own your creative identity,
  • give you a new level of permission to be who you are,
  • choose new behaviors,
  • take new actions, and
  • be in the world in new more authentic way.

(All these massive and global energy shifts are nudging us in that direction anyway — this process will help make that transition smoother!)

You can read more about the class and register here:

**********
Claim Your Creative Identity

Location: Your telephone or Skype
Dates: Tuesday, June 28th & Thursday, July 7th
Time: 3:30 p.m. Pacific 6:30 Eastern, 11:30 GMT (late!), 8:30 a.m. Australia
$47

Register
**********

 

Remember, the class is next Tuesday, so make sure you hop on over and reserve your spot right now. :)

Warmly,

Jenna

p.s. Remember, I do almost all of my work by phone, which means you can participate from anywhere in the world. And everything is recorded too, so if you can’t participate live during the session, you can still benefit from listening to the recording of the session later on. Join me.

No Matter Where You Go, There You Aren’t?

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you know I’ve been going through a big transition with my work and my life — I’m now focusing as much as possible on my own creative expression; writing a sci-fi screenplay and writing a non-fiction creativity guide.

It has been quite a journey, at times up and down, fraught with confusion, scattered with moments of sparkling clarity.

Massive Creative Breakthroughs

I’ve recently had a huge breakthrough with my own creative work as a result of claiming my creative identity in a much deeper way.

I didn’t quite realize it until Elaine pointed it out to me, but I was “leaving the back doors open” by not fully committing to my creative work coming first. She reminded me that it doesn’t matter so much how I’m earning a living at this point, but that my focus needs to be on my creative work, first, and no wriggling out of it!

After debating with her for a while (both before and after we talked — do you ever have imaginary conversations with your friends?), I realized she was right.

I was trying to straddle the fence, to be both, while really being neither.

No Matter Where You Go, There You Aren’t

A while back I wrote a post called, “No Matter Where You Go, There You Are” about how we simply cannot escape our life purpose and life lesson no matter how we might try.

Tonight it struck me that not having an anchored sense of Who You Are is kind of like Showing Up But Not Really Being There, if you know what I mean.

This Whole Thing About Creative Identity

So now you know why I’ve been yak yak yakking about creative identity — it’s made a huge difference for me.

Ever since I did my pièce de résistance work on this (a combination of NLP work and some shamanic work) things have been moving like gangbusters.

Clear decisions left and right, new ideas, big changes, a sense of EVERYTHING being lined up in one direction, and BEST OF ALL: I wrote 10 pages of my screenplay during my sacred writing time last week.

So yummy.

I Hope You Don’t Think I’m A Journalist

As part of all this, Elaine reminded me of a story about Julia Cameron (author of one of my bibles, The Artist’s Way), back from when she had started working at Rolling Stone magazine. Her boss said to her, “I hope you don’t think you’re a writer.”

Her response, “Oh, I am a writer. I hope you don’t think I’m a journalist.”

Bada bing.

We should all be so clear on who we are!

 

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What this sparks for you
  • What’s the creative identity that YOU are ready to claim?

If you’d like some help working on this very topic for yourself — owning and claiming YOUR creative identity, you’ll want to register for my brand new class NEXT TUESDAY, June 28th, called Claim Your Creative Identity. I’d love to have you join me.

Coming Attractions

~> June 23rd. My Life Purpose Breakthrough series continues. Details.

~> June 28th. Claim Your Creative Calling TeleCourse. That’s one week from TODAY. Register now to reserve your spot and integrate a new behavior or new identity in your life. Details.

 


~> MONDAYS. Right Brain Business Planning with my buddy Kris Carey.

~> FRIDAYS. Sacred writing days. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Celebrating the 4th of July with my family.

 

 

 

Listen to Dreamification Radio: Claiming Your Creative Identity

Here’s the audio link for listening to the recording of my Dreamification Radio show on claiming your creative identity.

We covered some great topics and questions, including:

  • How to create sacred writing time for yourself
  • How to being sensitive and creative can be intertwined
  • How to find a big enough “umbrella vision” for your creative work
  • Getting your creative work into the world
  • Dealing with naysayers and finding a circle of support.

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Shortly after recording this broadcast, I was informed that Radio Lightworker will not be continuing, so this broadcast is unedited (you’ll hear me mentioning that I’ll edit out some logistical bits, thanks for your patience with that). It’s also my last broadcast, at least in this form. :) Enjoy.

If you’d like support around claiming YOUR creative identity, I’m offering a powerful class next Tuesday, June 28th on claiming and integrating your new identity. This is a perfect support for anyone wanting to move into new behavior and stepping up into a higher vision of yourself and your life purpose. Stay tuned for more details, coming soon!

It Starts With Who You Are

Doing something — anything — successfully in the world requires a solid foundation.

What is that foundation?

It’s you.

It’s being clear on who you are, what you do, and why you are doing it.

I’ve been chatting with some of my favorite coach friends and mentors and I’m noticing a trend, at least among the tribe of deep thinkers I hang out with.

I see that out in the world so much of the focus is on how you get stuff done (which I love, don’t get me wrong) and how to have a plug-and-play business or project or widget (not so much), but there isn’t much of a focus on WHO you are, WHAT you care about, and WHY you are doing what you are doing (which I love even more). The focus instead is on how much money you can you make and how fast can you make it, or other more practical, surface level implementation tools.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But unless you have the foundation in place, unless you’ve claimed your identity and know who you are and who you want to be, all the implementation and practical tools in the world will not serve you.

It starts with who you are.

Hear more on this subject on my upcoming Dreamification Radio broadcast this Saturday, June 18th on claiming your creative identity.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What this sparks for you
  • What’s the creative identity that YOU are ready to claim?

Coming Attractions

~> June 16th and 23rd. My Life Purpose Breakthrough series continues. Details.

~> June 18th. Next Dreamification Radio broadcast. Details.

~> June 28th. Mark your calendar and stay tuned for a special, affordable one-time class that’s perfect for anyone who wants to integrate a new behavior or new identity in their life.

 


~> MONDAYS. Right Brain Business Planning with my buddy Kris Carey.

~> FRIDAYS. Sacred writing days. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Celebrating the 4th of July with my family.