Your top “7’s” writing posts from 2014 (your favorite one is no surprise!)

Apparently I think in sevens a lot, at least when it comes to writing about writing. 

As I was reviewing the most-read posts of 2014, apparently sevens were appealing to you, too. 

These “7’s” posts were among the most popular last year, counting down to your favorite (and there’s no surprise to me there about why that one was the favorite — it’s something we all deal with!)

So, in reverse order, our lucky sevens:

7 steps to recovering from creative burnout

reclinerWhen you get burned out, it’s hard to do anything, let alone be creative. In this article, I outline seven steps you can take to go from creative burnout to creative recovery, so you can bring back the joy you feel when you create. This is an important skill to master because sometimes — even when we’re doing our very best to keep the creative well filled and do our writing at a sustainable pace — resistance, deadlines, life, and fate conspire to the point where we’re scrambling to finish a project under a big time crunch, binge-write, and exhaust ourselves as a result (sometimes doing so for days, weeks, even months on end). And once we’ve hit that bottom of the creative barrel, writing anything sounds entirely miserable. Read this article to find out how to bring yourself back into creative balance.

7 ways to recommit to your writing

writing wordle 3Sometimes as writers we get into a good writing practice but still manage to become complacent about actually FINISHING projects and moving on to the next one, rather just making small amounts of progress or endlessly rewriting and editing. When that happens, it’s time to recommit, and raise the bar of our own expectations. In this article, I discuss seven ways to stop phoning it in and require more of yourself as a writer. Read this article to find out how to to recommit to your own writing

7 ways to overcome fear and uncertainty about writing 

Overcome fear and uncertaintyIn this terrific guest post, Writer’s Circle coach and produced screenwriter Sarah Newman talks about how to stay in action and keep moving forward with our writing even when fear and uncertainty rear their ugly heads. She shares a list of seven great ways to get unstuck and keep writing that I’m sure you will find both handy and inspiring. Read her article and discover how to get into action with your writing.

My 7 part series, “Make 2015 your year to write”

reflectionOur most recent “7’s” post was my seven-part series, called “Make 2015 Your Year to Write”. If you missed it, it’s not too late to work with the writing prompts in the series that will help you design and create goals and resolutions for your writing year (2015 or otherwise!) so that they are well-aligned with what you want in the big picture. That way you can make sure you’re working grounded in the reality of where you are right now as a writer and where you want to end up. 

7 tips for staying motivated by self-created deadlines

ticking clocksThis article ties in neatly with the article on recommitting, because self-created deadlines can be a powerfully motivating when it comes to hunkering down and doing the work. In this piece I talk about seven strategies you can use to make your inner deadlines actually mean something. Hint: It often involves turning those “inner” deadlines into outer ones. Read more about mastering your self-created deadlines here. (And see if you can guess which one is my favorite!) 

And your favorite “7” post: 7 ways to beat procrastination 

If the goal is too big, make it smallerThis article was your favorite “7” post, and it’s one of mine too. And it’s no surprise. Procrastination is one of the biggest things we struggle with as writers. In the piece I talk about the most common reasons for procrastination and seven ways to beat it, including some things you may not have thought of, like setting super small micro goals, telling others about what you’re doing to create accountability for yourself, and knowing when to STOP writing. Check it out here and bust your own procrastination habit while you’re at it

Enjoy, writers!

I hope your 2015 is off to a great start.

Happy writing.

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7 Ways to Overcome Fear and Uncertainty About Writing

Sarah NewmanNote from Jenna: This guest post is from one of our excellent Writer’s Circle coaches and screenwriter, Sarah Newman. I’ve been thrilled to have Sarah as a coach over the last year and a half, and her group participants absolutely adore her (as do I). She brings a compassionate, listening spirit to her coaching and she is an excellent role model with her strong writing work ethic. In her own writing, Sarah primarily works on TV pilots and features.

Today Sarah has written about several clever ways she and her group members have discovered to get themselves unstuck, past any fear or uncertainty, and stay in action with their writing.

Take a look and see what might work for you!

7 ways to overcome fear and uncertainty about writing

by Sarah Newman

One of my favorite aspects of working as a coach with the Writer’s Circle is how my group participants and I learn so much from each other by sharing our writing processes and challenges in our online progress logs on the Writer’s Circle site. 

Through this work together, we’ve learned a great deal from each other about how to get going with our writing in spite of any  fear, doubt, or uncertainty we’re facing.

Here are seven of my top methods to keep the writing moving that we’ve embraced in my group:

1. Work outside the document

One of our favorite ways to overcome fear or uncertainty with a section of writing is by working on it “outside” of the main document.

When I use this technique, it might look like opening a new blank document (sometimes I label mine “scrap” to really take the pressure off) or putting pen to paper. I find this gives me a greater sense of freedom to try something out and to write more boldly.

When working on rewrites, I’ll sometimes take a scene I’ve written and paste it into a new blank document to experiment with combining it with another scene or to make changes and cuts. It feels less set in stone and safer, knowing the original version is there if I want to revert back to it.

One of my group participants put her own twist on this by doing what has come to be known in our group as a “literal cut and paste”, where she’ll print and cut out sections of her chapter and move them around to assess the flow and to determine where cuts or additions can be made.

2. Have a conversation with yourself on the page

Some of my participants and I find ourselves ruminating on our projects in our morning pages or keeping a project journal to record thoughts and reflections. Having a safe place to explore our writing can lead to important insights and breakthroughs.

We journal in response to questions about content, like:

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen to my protagonist at this point?
  • What would be the most interesting location for this scene?

Or we dialogue with ourselves about issues coming up for us around the writing itself, by answering questions like:

  • Why am I shying away from digging deeper here?
  • What initially drew me to this project?
  • What do I need in order to keep going?

It’s about having a conversation with yourself and writing out all possible answers, no matter how silly some may seem. We find that this process helps us get past our inner critic’s judgments and back into the flow of writing.

3. Remind yourself that no writing is wasted

We have a “no writing is wasted” motto in my group.

Whether we end up changing the material or cutting it completely, it still has value in moving us forward . . . even if it feels like it moved us backwards or sideways!

Trying something, anything, is often better than trying nothing at all and can get us going again with our writing. Mistakes are valuable. Those “wrong” turns often lead us to the “right” path.

4. Sit with the mystery

It may be uncomfortable at first as the cursor blinks tauntingly, but the process of writing itself often generates connections and ideas that will help us find our way. We don’t have to have all the answers up front.

I love when my group participants report that by sticking with it and giving themselves permission to just write, they were able to have a breakthrough.

Reframe your self-doubt and uncertainty as a call to adventure with possibilities to explore.

5. Walk it out

And then again, sometimes it can be helpful to know when to get up and take a break.

Going for a walk is a common practice in my group. My participants often report finding inspiration out in nature.

For myself, I find many ideas are born and problems solved while I wander the streets of New York City. Not to mention the added bonus of overhearing potential tidbits of dialogue. :)

6. Make friends with a timer

Solo writing sprints are part of many of our writing routines, in addition to the daily scheduled group sprints through the Writer’s Circle. With the help of our trusty timers we fight the good fight against procrastination and resistance. On days when it’s difficult to start, perhaps we’re distracted or perhaps we’re facing a particularly challenging piece of the writing, we’re able to coax ourselves to get going by setting that timer for a small, doable amount of time.

I find I’ve become trained so well now that once I hit that start button, I’m off and writing, and I often find myself resetting it for more time.

7. Trust the process

Recently I noted how it helps to trust the process even when I can’t necessarily see it at work. This is true for my group participants as well. If we continue to show up and chip away, the writing naturally unfolds. As much as we sometimes want to get more done and hurry up to finish, patience with ourselves and trusting the process helps us remain consistent and see things through to completion, even when fear or doubt wants to lead us astray.

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Sarah Newman ia produced screenwriter who writes original one-hour drama pilots, screenplays, and short film scripts. She studied dramatic writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has worked various internships and jobs in the entertainment industry. When she’s not writing, reading, or watching story in all its glorious forms, you can find her on walking adventures around New York City and on Twitter at  @SarahAlexis4.

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Thanks for reading!

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Warmly,

Jenna