Conscious Writing: Commitment

Nothing happens unless you first make a pledge to do it. A conscious commitment to your goals is a necessary step for positive change.

Notice the difference between goals and commitment. Without these promises, goals are merely words on paper or thoughts in your head.

For today, make or reaffirm your commitments to your writing. Here are some suggestions adapted from the book:

I commit to continuous learning in my creative practice.

I commit to expressing myself authentically.

I commit to taking responsibility for my practice and keeping my agreements with myself.

I commit to fully embracing and expressing my creativity and to helping others do the same.

Write Like You’re Running Out of Time

Because you are.

I came across two good motivational articles this week, both encouraging writers to do more of that thing that they seem to hate doing more than anything else: write.

Not me. I love writing. I wish I could write all day, every day. It’s not always easy, I don’t always know the right choice to make, and I don’t always get good results, but I never hate it. I never bitch about it, I never suggest that my creativity is anything less than a blessing and a gift.

Awhile back, I accidentally said something insightful to my therapist.

“I’m me when I write. I am most myself when I’m writing.”

Don’t know what that signifies, and I don’t care. I burped that out in the middle of a rant about something completely unrelated, and it caught us both short. Definitely a statement that demanded attention, which we gave it. I don’t like to examine it too closely, though. I have a tendency to over-think, so scrutinizing one of the few things in life that brings me unconditional joy seems unwise. Better to embrace and cherish it. I have no need to understand where it comes from.

But if you’re one of those writers who struggles with it – even when you love it – and you find yourself holding back or – worse! – dreading your writing time, a couple of recent articles had some good advice.

On his blog, Steven Pressfield shared advice that might help you get started when you feel stuck or unmotivated or even unworthy or unable.

When you sit down, place your fingers on your keyboard or pen, and say to yourself “And the bad version is … “ and then start to work. You can do that. You can write the crap version of whatever idea is in your head, and believe me – the crap version is better than no version. As someone wise once said: You can rewrite a bad draft. You can’t rewrite a blank page.

Another good article has advice for training yourself as a writer, so that you get stuck less and maybe write crap versions that are less crappy.

In a post on the BookBaby blog, C. Hope Clark says you don’t have to wait for your anointed writing time to write. While it’s great to have a dedicated time, you can use that time more efficiently if you train yourself to write all day. Clark suggests writing in snippets – jotting down ideas the moment you have them, in between emails or while you’re on hold before a conference call. Resist the urge to doom-scroll your social media when you’re bored, and write a few lines instead. When you reach your dedicated writing time, you’ll have filled in gaps or given yourself ideas for your next scene or story. You might even hit your daily word count before you start. Now, that’s motivating!

Clark also says that the more you write, the more you’ll write. You’ll want to write more and more often. You’ll reclaim time from other tasks or hobbies that might start to seem less important. And the work will come more easily. A lot of writers don’t like to hear this, but creativity is a spigot. The wider you open it and the longer you leave it run, the more you’ll get in return.

If you needed this advice today, I hope it helped.

BookBaby: Train Yourself to Be a Writer

Steven Pressfield: And the Bad Version Is…

Conscious Writing: Thank Yourself

Today’s exercise in A Year of Living Consciously also focuses on your physical body and expressing appreciation for who you are. This can be a tough one for many – myself included – who don’t fit into narrow parameters of beauty.

Let’s apply this exercise to our creative practice too, as cultural appreciation for creatives who aren’t famous, wealthy, or conventionally beautiful is equally lacking.

So, screw that.

Take a few moments to honor your creative self. Give your creativity some silent appreciation for all it’s done for you over the years. Thank it for helping you still your thoughts, calm your nerves, work through trials and trauma, make connections, and feel alive.

Ask your creative self what you can do today to show it that you love it.

 

Conscious Writing: Love Yourself First

Today’s exercise is to take five or ten minutes to yourself today and treat yourself well, whatever that means for you. Sit in meditation, take a hot shower, watch the sunset, or whatever feels good for you.

Take a break from chores, goals, and expectations, and let yourself simply be.

If you don’t take good care of yourself, who will?

Conscious Writing: Your Body is a Wonderland

A Conscious Living practice also works to put you in touch with your physical being as a method for being more in touch with your emotions. For most people, emotions manifest in our body, even when we aren’t aware of them consciously. You might feel your shoulders tense before you realize that you feel stressed. You might feel sick to your stomach before you acknowledge that something is making you feel nervous or afraid.

Hendricks recommends deep breath meditation as a way of connecting emotions to physical sensation. This can work in both directions. When you feel tense or have some physical unease, take slow, deep breaths and try to connect that physical feeling to your emotional state. In contrast, when you identify a moment of high emotional upset, use deep breathing to find how that emotion is manifesting in your body. Where do you physically “feel” this emotion?

What does that have to do with writing?

Staying in touch with your emotional state is a healthy practice that can only benefit your creative mindset. Stress is one of the greatest contributors to writer’s block, so maintaining your emotional equilibrium can help keep your creativity flowing.

You can also apply this directly to your fiction. The better you understand how your mind and body interact, the easier it will be to portray this on the page. Showing how someone reacts to emotional stimuli is much more effective than telling the reader how they feel.

 

Conscious Writing: Rebirth

Today’s exercise in A Year of Living Consciously suggests that we take time to contemplate and celebrate our birth. This exercise recognizes that many of us have trauma dating back to birth or even pre-birth, whether that was physical illness or the fact of being an unwanted child.

Let’s twist this around to make it more relevant to our writing practice.

Think of the moment when you first engaged with the idea of writing as a creative outlet. Maybe you wanted to write, even as a child. Maybe you first thought of writing so that you could share what you learned from a life-changing event.

Remember these moments before someone told you that you couldn’t. Remember the rush of possibility, the joy of creative potential.

Celebrate the fact that you want to create through writing. There is no one to say no. There are no downsides or ambivalence.

You have the right to write creatively and you were right to choose it. You have the right to be here.

 

PS – If you think I don’t need to hear all the things I’m writing…phew!

Conscious Writing: Imposter Syndrome Fights Back

A big commitment, especially any promise involving emotional change or self-improvement, is almost always followed by a big pushback.

Sometimes, this challenge can be external – Hendricks calls this the universe’s way of making sure you mean it – but our inner demons and insecurities also have a habit of tripping us up. It makes sense when you think about it. We develop habits and defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from harm. Dismantling them can trigger anxiety and internal conflict, because we believe something bad is going to happen.

How does this apply to writing?  

When we make a choice to write authentically or tackle a meaningful subject – or even commit to expressing your creativity at all, in any manner – many of us hear a voice telling us we can’t. We shouldn’t write that story. We’re not smart or insightful enough to tackle that social issue. We don’t have anything to say. We shouldn’t be enjoying ourselves to much.

If you’re having those thoughts, take a moment today to sit with and contemplate them.

You’ll read a lot of advice on how to shut down those thoughts, such as giving them the voice of a person you dislike. For today though, don’t shut them out. Listen to what they say and what you feel – fear, anger, sadness, shame, or some other emotion.

These thoughts are part of you, the parts that want and need acceptance and encouragement. You don’t have to resolve them today. Simply acknowledge your defense mechanisms and thank them for trying to protect you, even if it’s not necessary.

My thoughts?

Who am I to preach about any of this stuff? What do I know about emotional growth or writing the authenticity and meaning? Why am I talking about writing at all? 

Fair questions. These thoughts want to prevent me from looking foolish or becoming a hypocrite. I can appreciate that. I’m thankful for the parts of me that want to protect me from myself, but this is a learning practice, and it’s ok if I don’t get it right every day. I acknowledge that I am not an expert at any of this, and that’s ok too.

Conscious Writing: Roots

Conscious Living doesn’t require that we ignore the past. In fact, it encourages us to embrace it, accept it, and honor it, even the parts we don’t like or that we want to change. No matter how we feel about events or people from earlier in our lives, they are part of what makes us who we are. Ideally, we can learn to recognize our past without letting it control our present.

For a writing practice today, consider what elements of your past are integral to who you are today, even if the memories aren’t the greatest. While you embrace your full experience – positive and negative – think of one word that you often use to describer yourself.

I am ­­­­­­­­__________.

Embrace this idea about yourself and take a moment to celebrate it. Consider how this word supports your creative practice or appears in your writing as a theme, motif, or obstacle.

I suspect you’ll discover that this word is an important part of your writerly voice. This strong concept of yourself comes through in the kind of stories you choose to write, the themes you explore, and how you craft your sentences and scenes. Voice is difficult to define and develop, but at heart, voice is who you are.

I write, because I am ________.

 

 

Conundrum

Sometimes I forget that I’m reading websites from the UK and headlines about the BBC get real confusing.

Conscious Writing: What’s Your Potential?

If you’re following along on my Conscious Writing journey, you may feel called towards more meaningful writing or at least a more meaningful relationship with your creative practice.

And certainly, this is a journey. I am practicing this approach day by day. This blog isn’t intended as a lecture, but as a way to remain accountable to the process. I haven’t previously completed the exercises in A Year of Living Consciously and I’m not reading ahead. I’m bringing my attention to each lesson on the day it comes and am practicing reflection and self-honesty.

This isn’t easy. You have to trust the part of you that’s searching for something deeper in your creative expression and listen to what you find.

Hendricks suggests we make the following declaration: I am here today because my commitment to living my potential is greater than my commitment to the familiar.

There are many ways we can reframe that to focus on our writing. Our commitment to living up to our writing potential might mean continuous learning, experimentation, or merely showing up every day because we decided this is important. Leaving the familiar might mean writing with a new or stronger or more authentic voice or writing stories we were afraid to tell. It might mean trying new forms of writing, such as poems or plays, or new ways of telling a story, even though we’re not very good at them.

During the day, repeat this phrase a few times: I am here today because my commitment to reaching my creative potential is greater than my commitment to the familiar.

When you say this phrase, take a few deep breaths before and after so that it sinks into your body and your thoughts. Take a special moment at the start of your writing time today to share this declaration and reflect on what it means for you.