When to look for a mentor — or not

The other day I spoke to prospective client.

She said, “I just don’t know how you can help me. I mean, I already know what I have to do, I just have to do it, right?”

The answer, on some level, is “Yes, of course.”

On the other hand, the beauty of having a coach or a mentor is that you have someone with you to help you through the tricky rough spots, to hold your hand when you lose your way, and to offer a fresh perspective when you can’t see the forest for the trees.

There are many different kinds of support like this out in the world, and the key is knowing WHEN you don’t need help and when you do.

How to decide if you’re not ready for mentoring right now, or maybe it’s time to move on

You might not be ready for mentoring right now, if:

  • You are having trouble listening to your own voice. Sometimes, and this is true for many seekers, we take in so much information, training, and guidance from other people that we lose sight of our own knowing. This is a good time NOT to work with a mentor, but rather the time to take a break, turn inward for a while, and tune into your own voice. The exception to this would be working with a coach or mentor who specializes in helping you access your own inner wisdom, guidance, and intuition rather than directing you with their own.
  • Your mentor has only one right way of doing things and/or isn’t teaching you to “fish” for yourself. Ideally you’ll want to have a mentoring relationship where your mentor is truly imparting the knowledge that will help you fly on your own, someday soon. If you’re working with someone who is just doing the heavy-lifting for you, you won’t get as much out of the relationship as you deserve.
  • It’s not in your budget or it’s not the right program. It is important to invest wisely in mentoring. I’ve seen far too many people invest ridiculous amounts of money in high-end coaching programs that sound good on paper but aren’t specific to their concerns, only to end up in debt and none the wiser for their experience (with the exception of a lesson in more judicious spending). Choose your mentors wisely, and make sure you’re investing in training and support that gets you to the specific outcomes you’re looking for.

How to decide if you’re ready for mentoring right now

You may be ready for a mentoring relationship now, if:

  • Even though you know what to do, you’re still not taking action. It’s one thing to know, it’s another thing to do. When all of your self-sabotaging gremlins rear their ugly heads and trip you up, do you know how to get around them? Do you persevere and get it done? Or do you call it a day? Having a mentor can make the difference between thinking and taking action. And THAT is where the rubber meets the road. In a recent post, I mentioned that I use multiple sources of accountability and mentoring in my life. Believe it or not, I’m not that good about following through on things unless I have significant motivation to do so. I use my mentors, like my screenwriting mentor and my business consultants, to keep me on track with much of my work.
  • You’re ready to stand in equal partnership with your mentor. You’ll want to work with someone who isn’t necessarily “above” you, though they may have more knowledge that you do in a particular area. I’ve learned the hard way to be exceedingly careful about putting anyone on a pedestal. Instead, I look for people to work with that I have the clarity of a peer-based relationship with. When I work with clients, I like to see us standing side-by-side, partnering to address the work at hand together, bringing all our expertise to bear.
  • You lose your way frequently. On the other hand, the beauty of having a mentor is that you have someone to hold the bigger picture for you, even when you lose your way. If you’re at all sensitive, as are many of my readers, you’ll be more likely to flounder when the boat gets rocked. Having a mentor who will remember of all your talents and abilities — especially when you can’t — is a powerful source of comfort and sustenance when the going gets rough.
  • You want to move faster than you can on your own. Having a mentor definitely has advantages when it comes to moving more quickly. In addition having accountability to keep you in swifter action, it’s incalculably faster and more effective to have someone to trouble-shoot, plan, and brainstorm with you than you can usually do on your own, particular if those aforementioned gremlins are throwing their unhelpful comments into the mix. 
  • You want the expertise and knowledge a mentor can offer. I choose to work with mentors who have a particular knowledge and expertise that I lack. Whether it’s writing a sales page or structuring my screenplay, I choose to hire folks I know I can both learn from and can help me do the work. I don’t want theory — I want practice. This is why I’ve always aimed to strike a balance between discussing the work and doing the work with my clients. I walk them through quieting their inner critics, writing proposals, working through detailed project timelines, and designing their writing schedules. Homework will only get you somewhere if you actually do it. Having someone to do the work with you? That’s where you know you’ll get the benefit for sure.
  • You want help applying that expertise to your specific circumstances. So often, we sign up for classes and programs but get lost in the anonymity of groups. When you want help with application of content specific to you, having someone that can focus with you on a precise project can make all the difference when it comes to translating from esoteric idea-land into practical get-it-done land. Which is where I love to live — in that bridge between worlds.

Your turn

I always love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> Creative Productivity Next Steps. If you enjoyed my Creative Productivity TeleClass Series and you’re wondering about the next steps to put what you learned into practice, stay tuned for an announcement about a free information call with me coming soon. I’ll walk you through identifying your next steps and fill you in about details about how I can support you along the way through my 1:1 mentoring programs. Make sure you’re on my mailing list and watch your inbox for details coming soon.

~> Next Writer’s Circle Session. Register by February 21st for the next session of my Writer’s Circle (starts February 25th). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects: http://JustDoTheWriting.com. We’re running four groups of fantastic writers right now and it’s a ton of fun. Come join us!

 

What I'm Up To

~> Daily. Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries. Working now on Mini Movie Seven!

~> Reading The Rescue (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 3).* Watching Downton Abbey* (Season 3). Started up again on Michio Kaku’s The Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel.*

 

Thanks for reading.

 

* Affiliate link

 

 

 

Take action on what you know

As creatives, one of the skills we have to master is finding our way to the finish line, even when it feels like muddling our way through the dark.

Sometimes we know where we want to go, but we don’t know how to get there.

And when this happens, many people end up doing nothing. They don’t take action because they don’t have all the information yet, or they aren’t clear on the whole picture.

And yet from my perspective, this is one of the biggest mistakes we can make.

So often creative wait for inspiration, not realizing that if they put pen or paintbrush to page, pick up the guitar, or open their mouths to speak or sing, just trusting the act of creation is enough to get things going.

Because strange though it may seem, inching just one part of a project or idea forward can be enough to catalyze the entire system into action.

For instance, let’s say you have a beginning to a story, and you have an idea of the ending, but you aren’t quite sure how to get there yet — what happens in the middle? Well, you can start brainstorming structural ideas and plot devices. But what do you already know, and how you can nudge that forward?

Maybe you have a pretty good idea of your characters, so what if you spent some time fleshing them out? Or maybe you can visualize the ending clearly — what if you started writing there?

Yes, it’s true that some of that work might be for “nothing.” But really, truly, is any work ever lost? Isn’t it the process and the learning that comes through that work independently valuable, regardless of its lifespan?

In another example, let’s say you want to redecorate your living room, but you don’t know where to start. And yet you DO have your eye on a particular couch you just love. Rather than waiting to solve the entire design problem, what if you got the couch you love and build the rest of the redecoration project around it?

I suppose the risk is there that you’ll have purchased a couch you love but you can’t find a single thing that will look good with it, but I doubt it.

The paralysis of inaction can become painful procrastination in short order. What do you already know about where you are that you can take action on?

Do it.

Remember the quote from Goethe, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

Your turn

You know I always love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> Creative Productivity Next Steps. If you enjoyed my Creative Productivity TeleClass Series and you’re wondering about the next steps to put what you learned into practice, stay tuned for an announcement about a free information call with me coming soon. I’ll walk you through identifying your next steps and fill you in about details about how I can support you along the way through my 1:1 mentoring programs. Make sure you’re on my mailing list and watch your inbox for details coming soon.

~> Next Writer’s Circle Session. Register by February 21st for the next session of my Writer’s Circle (starts February 25th). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects: http://JustDoTheWriting.com. We’re running four groups of fantastic writers right now and it’s a ton of fun. Come join us!

 

What I'm Up To

~> Daily. Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries.* Working now on Mini Movie Seven!

~> Reading The Rescue (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 3).* Watching Downton Abbey* (Season 3). Wanting to get back to Michio Kaku’s The Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel.*

 

Thanks for reading.

 

* Affiliate link

 

 

 

Why we don’t do the work

Last week I wrote a post called, “Stop buying stuff and do the work.” It resonated for more than a few people — and I had promised to write more about WHY we don’t do the work.

So why don’t we do the work?

First, an example.

For years (literally) I said I wanted to write, but I managed instead to fill my plate with training after training after training, and volunteer job after volunteer job. I studied with Coach For Life and Sonia Choquette, pursuing certifications with them. I started and ran organizations like the Sensitive Professionals Network, Six Sensory San Francisco, and a Coach For Life graduates forum, not to mention working as a youth leader with a youth group.

I read (and bought) countless books on coaching, intuitive development, angels, high sensitivity and so much more. Some of them I hardly even opened.

Then I spent more time, energy, and money on learning business skills and developing my message with several high business coaches, and completing hand analysis training.

And while I don’t regret what I was doing — after all, I have tremendously deepened my self-knowledge, grown as a person, learned a ton, and met wonderful people along the way, I was keeping myself so busy that I wasn’t pursuing my true dream of writing.

Throughout that time (and for years before it), I had a nagging feeling that I was “waiting for my life to start” and yet I wasn’t taking action to change anything. Instead I was filling my time doing all those other wonderful things.

And they were wonderful — but in hindsight, it was still resistance.

What’s that about?

It’s all too easy to think we are too busy, that we don’t have enough time. Or that we just need to get better organized. Or just get this one more thing done first.

And the thing is, we feel good that we are contributing great things to the world and our community and that we are learning so much.

And we are. We do.

ALL of these things are true.

We are not bad people after all, we have good intentions and we are interested in so many things.

But why does the one true dream always fall to the bottom of the pile? Why do we make choices that keep us from our dreams?

This is not a new answer

In my case — and I suspect it is true for many people if not most — it’s fear.

This is why we buy stuff we don’t need, keep ourselves too busy to think or connect inward to our deeper selves, procrastinate, spin in circles, get apathetic, and all those other things that add up to resistance.

Because it is scary.

Pursuing your truest, deepest dream is the most frightening thing imaginable — you might not even consciously recognize that you are afraid.

It’s your own hero’s journey

Pursuing your true dream — your art, writing, business, or passion — requires massive amounts of courage. It’s your own personal hero’s journey. Every single day you have to be willing to face down your personal demons, fight the resistance, and forge ahead.

It’s no wonder we want to avoid it, right? And we are so clever that we don’t even know that’s what we’re doing.

Time to clear the decks and answer the call to adventure. It’s waiting for you.

Your turn

I love to hear what you think. Post your note on my blog. Can’t wait to hear from you.

And if your dream is writing — registration closes tomorrow for the next session of my Writer’s Circle. Join us.

Warmly,

Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> August 2nd. Register by August 2 for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle (starts August 6th). For serious writers and for writers who want to get serious about their writing. http://JustDoTheWriting.com

~> September 6th. Last day to register for the next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group happening on October 4th. These groups always sell out (only 4 spots) so if you want to discover your life purpose through the remarkably accurate tool of hand analysis, sign up here now: http://LifePurposeBreakthrough.com

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth and participating in ScreenwritingU’s Pro Rewrite class after finishing the ProSeries.* (They’re offering their free rewrite* class this month on August 4, which is great — though make sure you have plenty of water — it’s a looooong class.)

~> September 18 to 22nd. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU* event to meet with producers and agents then staying on for the InkTip Pitch Summit. (This is getting way too close!)

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Finished Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix! We’ve started reading the next one: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. I loved (500) Days of Summer, and finally saw The Day the Earth Stood Still (liked it) and Crazy, Stupid, Love (fabulous).

 

* Affiliate link

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:

Challenges

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.

~~~~~