Every writing project is an investment

Every project I work on – especially when it’s a long-form piece – has begun to feel like an investment: In myself, in my writing, in my future.

Each one starts out seeming so simple. Just an idea. But it builds over time into a complex story. With questions and puzzles and logic challenges and logic flaws and doubts. All of which have to be solved. 

And it takes time to crack those puzzles.

Even though I’ve been able to move from concept to outline to draft much more quickly now than I have in the past, it’s more than just a matter of pace and production. It’s also about depth and attention — preoccupation even — for a period of my life. It’s about making a commitment to a story that occupies my time, my thoughts, my subconscious, my dreams. It occupies ME. 

When I hear the stories of how many drafts it took to write The Sixth Sense and how many before he “got” the big idea, I appreciate even more what an investment a story is. Learning to tell it well. To refine it, hone it, pare away the unnecessary bits. All the rewriting. It’s no small thing.

And yet we dive into these stories with such hope and abandon. “This one will be different,” we tell ourselves. “It’ll practically write itself! I’ll be done before I know it.”

The grass is always greener

Just tonight I happened upon a journal entry from last year, where I was lamenting about how ready I was to write something new as I was slogging through a major rewrite. And since then, I have. And now I’m feeling about the new project the way I was feeling about the thing I was rewriting at the time. Or possibly worse. :)

Isn’t that funny, how the grass is always greener on the next project?

I think that must be part of the drive behind “bright shiny object syndrome” and the resultant project hopping we writers can get into. Those other projects look so much more appealing than our current moldy one, all banged up and warty and flawed.

No wonder we leave trails of unfinished projects behind us like breadcrumbs leading to a trove of forgotten dreams.

I think there may also be a hesitation to fully commit to a second or third or next project because we know what a major big deal it is having been through earlier projects. I can see why “second novel syndrome” may be more than an issue of simply exceeding the quality of one’s prior work! It’s also about psyching ourselves up for the next step in our writer’s journey.

Difficult but worth doing

Because really, it’s why we’re here, right? To write? 

So whether we’re starting our first project or our tenth, or rewriting yet another draft, it’s about facing the work. Finding the courage to do it. Stewing in the crummy, awkward, and sh*tty rough draft writing we’ve created or wrestling with the new story choices and puzzles, while we twist uncomfortably, grasping at straws, wondering how on earth to solve or fix it. It’s painful!! Who would want to subject herself to that?

No wonder we jump to other things.

But when I think of each project as an investment, it changes the picture for me.

It becomes worth it to put in the time.

It changes from the wretched torture of rewriting a terrible rough draft or struggling to pull the pieces together to something difficult but worth doing.

What about you?



When the Going Gets Blocked, Can the Blocked Get Going?

I’m writing an e-book about busting yourself on your creative blocks so you can get your work into the world.

I’m writing it for you.

And I’m writing it for me.

Reasons We Get Creatively Blocked

There appear to be a number of reasons for being creatively blocked (aka writer’s block or artist’s block), including

  • external causes like a loss, death, or divorce,
  • internal causes like beliefs, perfectionism, or self-doubt,
  • other things like “second novel/album syndrome” and creative depletion.

It’s fascinating to study and to write about — and even to get blocked over. *grin*

Taking a Closer Look at Where Blocks Come Up

I found myself examining closely my own creative blocks today in my morning pages and noticed that I feel blocked when I start telling myself stories about things I think will be hard, or when I can’t “figure out” how to get “through” a certain part of a scene I’m working on in my screenplay or how to organize a certain section of my e-book.

It also happens when I get afraid that I won’t be able to do something I want to do in the style I want to do it in — for the screenplay I want it to be fast paced and action-filled, with the e-book I want it to be spunky and fun.

The dreaded inner critic rears his head and says, “What if you can’t pull that off?”

Stuff That’s Helping So Far

And what I’m noticing about this is:

1. Just taking the time to name exactly where I’m stuck is helpful because it tells me what I need to do next to get going again.

For example, with the screenplay, I want to get some help on getting through “the dreaded middle” and I also want to focus my efforts for the time being on the “battle scene,” which quite honestly sounds a lot more fun than figuring out how I’m going to GET to the battle scene.

With my e-book, I realized that I need to take a step back and do some of that organizational work in a brainstorming context — and that’s freeing me up to see it from a new perspective.

2. Busting my inner critic publicly (here) makes him settle down a little bit (though it’s also a bit embarrassing), but also writing about what I want to accomplish with the style and tone of what I do is also hugely helpful because it puts me back into the bigger picture perspective about what I’m doing.

3. Do the next thing. Zara reminded me today how important it is not to bite off more than you can chew; it’s easy to get overwhelmed and/or distracted thinking about how to market the e-book and whether or not people will like it before I’ve even crafted the darn thing.

But my real job is to do the next step, then the one after that.

And then the one after that.

Head Down, Eyes Up?

It’s funny, but so true, I have to remember to keep my eyes on the prize (my Big Vision) and keep my head down (doing the next thing) all at the same time. It’s that middle term thinking that gets me all gummed up.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What this sparks for you about your own work
  • How you get creatively blocked and how you get out of it

Let’s skip:

  • Feeling like you need to give me advice (thanks!)
  • Stories about how you never ever ever get creatively blocked


Coming Attractions

~> June 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 2011. My brand new Life Purpose Breakthrough Group event series. Details.

~> June 14th. Live recording session for my next broadcast of my Dreamification Radio show on Radio Lightworker. Join me to get your questions answered LIVE. Details TBA.

~> June 18th. Next broadcast of my Dreamification Radio show on Radio Lightworker. Details. Listen from anywhere in the world to this Internet radio show.

~> 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.


~> June 10th. Celebrating my husband’s birthday!

~> MONDAYS. Working on my Right Brain Business Plan with my buddy Kris Carey.

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

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