Reading When Writing Ebbs


In the last few days I’ve been glad to see posts from other writers on the process of finding it hard to write and working it through. This happens for me too. It often happens after things are going well, when I’ve begun to feel like I am getting an idea of how writing might work for me.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote about Feeling What We’re Avoiding  and Jen Loudon asked Do You Have To Burn Out? Both posts comforted me as I negotiated the latest ebb in my writing flow.

One of the things I realized after reading them was that I was getting a bit pushy with myself about what I would post here. Today it feels like maybe it’s time for a stroll through the everyday rather than a forced march along the edge.

March 6th was Reading Aloud Day. I love reading aloud. My mother read Black Beauty and Heidi to me, and my grandmother read dozens of fairy tale books aloud before I was five, so my love started early. I once convinced classmates to take a day and read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men , the classic by James Agee and Walker Evans, aloud. We read to each other for about ten hours, handing off the book when our voices tired. It was an intense experience. Now I wonder if I would have been able to read the whole thing by myself. Later I read Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient aloud to myself for the beauty of the language. Now I often read passages from books aloud.

When I experience a writing ebb I read even more than usual. Mysteries have taken me out of the everyday and into a new set of puzzles since I first discovered Agatha Christie as a twelve year old. Today, I am a fan of Jacqueline Winspear’s mysteries about Maisie Dobbs.  Maisie is a fascinating character who begins as an English house maid, becomes a World War I nurse, and transitions to detective. The era is rich with themes that resonate with our own age of profound changes.

I am fascinated by the period from just before World War I thru World War II so I was delighted to find Charles Todd, a mother-son writing team, who have written a slew of good mysteries set in that era. I started with the Bess Crawford mysteries because Bess is a World War I nurse too. The first of the series is  A Duty to the Dead.

Another group of mysteries set in this period, this time in India during the last days of the British Raj, are by Barbara Cleverly. The Last Kashmiri Rose introduces Joe Sandilands, late of the Western Front, now in India. Cleverly also has a series that has an echo of Agatha Christie’s real life. In The Tomb of Zeus  she introduces Laetitia Talbot, a young English woman who wants to become an archaeologist. Set on Crete in 1928, the book gives us a view of the world between the wars from another part of the world .

It’s still raining in Vancouver; great weather for a mystery and a cup of tea.

Join the conversation: Do you ever read aloud? What are your read-aloud favourites? What are your mystery picks?


Executing the Plan: 5 Ideas to Move You Forward

Plastic BlockOkay. You have a goal. You have a plan. You begin to act on the plan and the things that distract you from it and the things that get in the way begin to show up. Here are some ideas that can help you move forward.

What distracts you?

I can easily get lost in the internet and email so I found I have to limit both the time I spend on it each day and when I look at email and follow-up blogs and websites. I just can’t go there until I’ve finished priority work for the day.

Other distractions include calls and visits, setting meetings at times that interfere with my best writing times, and failing to review and refine my daily work list.

Some distractions are common these days (email, internet, calls); yet each person has their own list of events or behaviour that derails momentum. If you can notice what gets you off track then you can understand how to correct the problem.

As soon as you realize you’ve been distracted, make a note. Keeping a list of distractions and reviewing it at the end of the day will provide some tips for better focus the next day.

What do you need from others?

I am pretty independent so I often forget to think about what I might need from someone else before I get started. Some of the things that I can forget to ask for before I start:

  • clarification of points I am not sure about
  • more information
  • permission to use material or to contact other sources
  • how contacts and connections may help
  • physical resources
  • time
  • boundaries

It helps me when I remember to ask before I start, both because I don’t lose focus by interrupting work to ask, and because it increases my sense of being supported.

How can you work with the obstacles or forces that resist accomplishment of your goal?

I identify forces that oppose the goal as part of planning. I’ve found it helpful to research these forces and develop some strategies to use when they appear.

Here are the ones I listed when writing about the goal of completing the first draft of a novel with some examples of steps I took to remove or reduce the impact of the obstacle:

  • Self-Doubt: I reread what I’d written so far. It was better than I remembered!
  • Lack of focus and not spending enough time in the world of the novel: I recommitted to daily work
  • Fear of the dark parts: I am taking Clarissa Pinkola Estes course Mother Night
  • Pushing instead of discovering: I am working with discovering when an element needs a bit more time or research before writing and learning how to let the material “actively” rest. This means that even if I am not writing I spend time attuned to that world each day; just watching, just listening.

How can you leverage the forces that support your achievement of the goal?

There’s usually much more attention paid to what could go wrong when planning and not so much emphasis on how to ensure that the things that help us are in place.

Here’s my list of things that support my achievement of the goal to finish my first draft and how I am working to leverage each one to increase my chances of success.

  • Life-long desire to write: reaffirm my writer identity by taking one action each day that presents me as a writer (in addition to writing)
  • Clarity of the dream that launched the story: attune to the energy of the dream
  • Daily writing: forty-five minutes of work on the novel each day
  • Appropriate breaks: stretch breaks, shift to different part of story, begin work after a break
  • Connection to other writers: at least two meetings with writer-friends each month
  • Attunement to my soul’s longing to see it finished: connect with longing before beginning work
  • Just enough reading about craft and practice: read either blog, book or article on craft each day
  • Right effort: paying attention, being present with the process, and writing

I’ve found that my understanding of how to use each support changes as I work with it.

Each of us has a unique list, and I’d love to hear more about how you leverage what supports you or any ideas about how I could use my supports more effectively.

How can you stay connected to the larger goal and your core desired feeling over time?

I’ve started to use my weekly journal as a place to review progress. This lets me focus on the details during the week and then draw back for a higher level view at least once a week. The combination of detailed work and a new perspective seems to be helping. The weekly review gives me a place to integrate the lessons I am learning along the way.

Join the discussion: What has helped you execute your plans and reach your goals?


Doorways to the Future: Planning for 2013 Goals


Each goal is wish that you have clarified and are committed to making real in this world. Each goal can be a doorway to the future. The next part of the work is finding or creating the doorway by creating your plan.

Once you have goals

Before you begin planning, review your list of goals to ensure each one is:

  • Stated in terms of what you want (not what you don’t want)
  • Stated in present tense
  • Stated to include what you will experience (see/hear/feel) when you achieve it.
  • Stated to include the evidence that you have achieved it

Most of the time my goal list, the one I print out and paste in the back of my agenda, and in my journal; the one I look at every day and each week when I do my journal entry for the week, is more of a point form reminder and doesn’t have the detail I need to create a plan. It’s like the title. The plan provides chapter headings, and weekly and daily actions provide the substance of the story.

Pick one goal to work with first

Choose the goal that relates to your focus for this year; the one that will have the most impact. Sometimes the focus is a role, sometimes a feeling, sometimes an area of your life such as livelihood or relationships. Here’s how I’ve built a plan for my  focus area, creativity, and my focus role, writer. Once you’ve done one goal, do the others in order of priority.

My Core Desired Feeling in the area of Creativity is Joyful. Underneath there are three goals:

  • Finish the first draft of the novel
  • Write 52 Blog posts
  • Play with paints, collage, fabric

After my review I restated them:

  • First draft of novel 80-100K words completed; excited to begin revisions
  • Post each week is beautiful, edgy(for me), useful(for readers), and is shared
  • Journal weekly using paint, collage, visual play in weekly summaries

The goal and resources

The next step is understanding how I can use my resources (time, money, network) to achieve the goal.

The productivity software I used to use came with my first laptop computer—a program based on Stephen Covey’s First Things First, an older book with a ton of good ideas in it. In both the software and the book, Covey used the analogy of filling a jar with sand and rocks. If you fill the jar with the sand first and then try to put in the rocks you won’t manage it, but if you put the rocks in first and then pour in the sand you can fit them all into the jar. He tells you to put your most important life commitments in first and then let the sand of all the other commitments fill up the space that’s left. It is great advice, and I’ve used it for years.

It works when I am self-disciplined enough to do it. Part of the challenge for me is determining what’s a big rock, what’s sand, and then there’s the dilemma of recognizing when I see someone else’s big rock (or sand) as mine.

Big Rocks

Big rocks are your most important tasks. How do you figure out what’s important? Another tool from First Things First has been a big help. Four Quadrant Thinking. Divide a square into four boxes, and label as follows:

  • Q1 Urgent & Important, top row left
  • Q2 Not Urgent & Important, top row right
  • Q3 Urgent, Not Important, bottom row left
  • Q4 Not Urgent, Not Important, bottom row right

Then take your list of things to do (action items from goal planning and other items from your list) and sort tasks into the appropriate box. Most of us start with a pile of things in Q1, not so much in Q2 and a bunch of stuff in Q3 and Q4. To be productive and less reactive, you want to carve out more time for Q2 items like planning, creating, editing, researching, learning, and key action steps for your goals. This is what moves you forward and begins to make more space. Your urgent and important list, often firefighting, begins to disappear as the the results of planning and more long-term thinking are felt.

Daily Practice

The other gem that’s stayed with me and helped me work in a way that’s congruent with my values and feelings, is recognizing that:

What you do every day is your life. What you do every day, whether or not you are aware of it, whether or not you intend it, becomes your life.

Staying aware of what you do every day, even just logging it and seeing where the time goes, can be sobering. Logging has been helpful for my writing. Last year I kept track of what I wrote each day, and though my intention was to write some on the novel everyday, there were too many days when I only wrote Morning Pages (thank goodness for Morning Pages).

The first chapter in Priscilla Long’s book The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life  is called Daily Writing. It begins like this:

Writing every day is the key to becoming a writer. It is the only secret, the only trick. Don’t despise the fifteen-minute write. Don’t despise writing in your journal. Don’t despise writing down your complaints for fifteen minutes before going to work. Any writing counts.

Taking heart from this advice, I am honouring my Morning Pages, the other writing I have done, and recommitting to writing more than Morning Pages every day.

The the discipline of daily practice is good for those with writing goals and for meditators, musicians, fitness enthusiasts, and a host of others whose goals benefit from daily work.

Creating the plan: begin with the end in mind

Another Covey quote

Begin with the end in mind,

has become an operating principle. It’s habit 2 from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The first step in creating the plan is creating a more specific and concrete vision of what it will be like when the goal is achieved.

  • How will I feel?
  • How will I celebrate?
  • What will I see, hear or notice?

Goal: First draft of novel 80-100K words completed; excited to begin revisions

As soon as I include how I want to feel I realize that I need to pace myself and build energy toward the end of the process so I’ll be eager to begin revising. This tells me more about how to approach writing the first draft differently. I think I’ve been allowing myself to revise too much along the way. Time to just get it down!

  • When I’ve completed those 80-100K words I feel like I just finished a delicious appetizer and am hungry for the main course of revision.
  • I am going to celebrate with a dinner out and a five-day holiday on work on the novel (to create some space before I begin revising).
  • I see a double-spaced hard copy ready for a first read through beginning to end, and a fresh pad of lined paper ready to take notes. I have a red pen and a yellow highlighter handy and a pad of 3 x 3 sticky notes.I notice how real the novel feels and how much actual space it takes.

I’ve got a big smile on my face just writing this description, so I’ll be ready to dance and shout when it’s really there.

Creating the plan: consider the context

The goal lives in a context of

  • feelings
  • values
  • forces that support achievement
  • forces that oppose achievement
  • the current status of the goal, and
  • other commitments.

If you understand the context you’ll have a better chance of making a plan that will help you achieve your goal.

  • Feelings: I want to feel joy at having brought it to completion and energized by the story being ready for work.
  • Values: I want to complete the first draft having learned more about writing, and I want to have created something of beauty and meaning, something that speaks to my community, something that explores the importance of kindness, and something that demonstrates the importance of presence.
  • Forces that oppose or hinder the goal: self-doubt, lack of focus, not being in the world of the novel enough to stay attuned to it, fear of the dark parts, pushing instead of discovering.
  • Forces that support the goal: life-long desire to write, clarity of the dream that launched the story, daily writing, appropriate breaks, connection to other writers, attunement to my soul’s longing to see it finished, just enough reading about craft and practice, right effort.
  • Current status: 35,000 words of first draft done, approximately 65K to go, 5500 words per month, 1300 week per week.

Breaking it down makes it feels much more manageable. Hey, I might even get it done early. I’ve been working about forty-five minutes a day on the draft so far this year and the time seems to be about right, so I’ll continue. When I tried to go for an hour I gave up early, and when I tried for several hours a day, I didn’t do it at all. I am looking for  my sweet spot, the one that lets me sustain the work.

  • Other commitments on your calendar: For most of us, there will always be other claims on our time and resources.

Before you can make a realistic plan for new goals you need to review current commitments. You will probably have to find things to say no to before you can say yes to the time and resources needed for your new goal.

I start by figuring out how much time I’ve already committed elsewhere: work, family, courses, vacations, and then count the days that are left. For example, in January,for me  7 days were gone right away, along with two evenings, and 20 other hours. I have roughly 166 waking hours to play with in January over 24 days. To allow for unforeseen events, I’ll give myself an hour per day for Sera. I now have 142 hours left. Even though these calculations are fiddly, for me, it’s really helped me understand the urgency behind using that hour each day. It helps me cherish the time.

I need to do enough time calculations to create commitment and a realistic perspective without getting so caught up in the time the issue that I lose sight of the writing. I know that an hour for the book is a Quadrant 2 activity and clearing email is usually Quadrant 3, so at the very least I can learn to do the hour on the book before I tackle email.

Committing to time and keeping an eye on the word count works best for me. I also know I need to build in activity that will nourish the writing, and space for connecting with other writers so I don’t go too far down my own rabbit hole.

Steps for creating a plan:

  1. Review goal statements
  2. Plan your most important goal first; the one that will make the most difference
  3. Review the resources (time, money, network) you will need to achieve the goal
  4. Understand how big rocks, daily practice and a four quadrant approach can be used with this goal
  5. Begin with the end in mind
  6. Consider the context

May you have fun creating your plan; may the process bring you new insights and help you achieve your goals for 2013.

Join the discussion: What kind of planning process works for you?


12 Tips for Creating in 2013

For me, 2012 was a year of finding out how to stay focused and what to focus on as a self-employed writer/consultant. Here are my top tips from this year’s journey.

1. Everything counts; it helps not to freak out.

It’s true. You decide what’s important. You lay out the plan. You find the money and make the money. It can be paralyzing and make you flirt with the idea of applying for any sort of job. When anxiety and overwhelm threaten to take you off track it helps to have a list of small projects that you can do while you get your breathing back to normal. Build your contact list. Work on ideas from your story/article notebook. Find a mentor; decide what you have to offer and what you hope for from the relationship. Develop a list of places/people you can be of service to at no charge. Once you are back to a less paranoid version of yourself focus on the one thing you can do right away to help your business/help your writing.

2. Small steps realize the vision.

What’s the one thing you want to get done next year? What do you need to do each quarter to make this dream come true? What do you need to do now to meet your first quarter milestone? Planning small steps and blocking them into your diary each week can take you where you want to go. Write for 15 minutes every day? For an hour? For three?

3. Learn to say yes to what feeds your soul.

What’s the 20% of what you do that makes it all worth it? Build that into every day and every week. Whether it is a specific activity or interacting with clients or other writers, make sure it happens. It will keep you going through those less than perfect moments.

4. What you do every day counts most; pick the right stuff.

It took an astonishingly long time for me to realize that my life was what I did every day. Even though I might treasure memories of a special trip or high point, it’s really what happens every day that counts. When I finally got it, I felt empowered. By changing what I did each day I could change my life. And I did. So don’t wait. Today is the day. Do what you love now.

5. Value your contribution.

Showing up is most of the gig. Showing up with all of you makes the difference between sleep walking your way through the day and living it. Start by valuing the fact that you are here and ready to work and that you bring your whole incredible self to the party.

6. Learn to say no.

At the beginning of the journey there may be the sense that nobody is going to want you to do anything for them and you may want to fall on the first offer with cries of gratitude even if it has nothing to do with your vision, or maybe you don’t have your vision yet, so everything looks good as long as someone will pay you for it. As you go on you realize there is really no reason to do what someone else could do better and with more joy. Say no.

7. Work with those you want to support; it’s a shared fate

When you take on a client, customer or project it’s a shared fate. If all goes well and your client is happy, it’s a win for both of you. If your client isn’t happy, or you’re not happy, it is a loss for both of you. It’s got to work for both of you.

8. Have fun!

Sometimes it’s bound to be intense. Learn to have fun while you work. Know who makes you smile and what makes you feel like dancing. Never waste a chance to celebrate what’s going on. Find one thing a day to celebrate, even if some days it means you celebrate it being over.

9. Let your soul shine through.

What about what you do satisfies your deep longing? What’s meaningful? Where does your satisfaction come from? Share this. It turns colleagues into friends and clients into fans. It’s what makes life  and your work juicy.

10. Embrace your strengths.

Step one, get to know your strengths. There are lots of ways to go about this, but an easy one that just takes noticing comes from Danielle LaPorte. Notice what people thank you for. In fact, write down what people thank you for (we have a way of forgetting really fast).

11. Find sources of nourishment.

When you are the whole show you need a lot of creative fuel to keep you inspired and putting it out there. Identify the people, activities, blogs, books, films, music, workshops, associations and classes that feed you and keep reminding you of your vision and your strengths.

12. Eat, Workout, Sleep

Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night works wonders. Forty minutes or more of daily exercise ditto. Eating for both health and pleasure provides balance. They are basics, and neglecting them can cause big problems, if not now, soon.

Join the discussion: What do you do to stay on track and keep creating?

The Dream Connection

Do you remember your dreams? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Earlier this year I was going through a period when I knew that I had dreamt yet had no specific memories when I woke up.

I wanted to recall my dreams again so I signed up for a dreamwork group with Trevor Simpson. The last session in the series of four was last week. Sessions were both interesting and helpful. Before they started I only recalled three or four dreams a month, but over the three months of the group I recalled over 50 dreams, and was able to explore a number of them in depth.

Remembering and exploring my dreams helped me clarify ideas, and provided new perspective on decisions. It also helped me remember that the parts of ourselves we don’t have conscious access to can be amazing, creative and funny.

Your dreams are gifts that you may not know how to open.

In the past I kept a dream journal for several years, using Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal Method, and the genesis of my novel-in-progress came from a vivid dream I had during a nap one afternoon in 1974, so dreams have been a powerful source of creativity and self-development for me already.

Carl Jung’s work on dreams has also shaped my personal work. Dream Moods has a good overview of Jung’s theories about dreams. Active Imagination is Carl Jung’s tool for expanding dream work and creative work. This article by Lawrence Staples of the Jung Society of Washington, D. C., gives a good explanation and an example of the connection between dreams, active imagination, and creative work.

The list of articles on the International Association for the Study of Dreams website shows the extent of worldwide interest in dreams and some of the research currently being done. The list includes articles on a broad list of topics from the usefulness of problem-solving dreams to dreams of the blind.

Want to know more? Wikipedia has a good overview of Dreams.

Here’s the first description I wrote of the dream that is the seed for my novel:

A young girl wakes from an afternoon nap in the dormitory above the great hall of a dancing school. She is wearing a dancer’s top and practice skirt wrinkled from sleeping. She jumps up and begins to move immediately in response to a call from the hall below. She moves from the dormitory to the balcony above the hall and is dazzled by the light flooding the hall rotunda as the sun sets. The light gives everything warmth: the floor tiles, the fountain, the lush foliage in pots round the interior of the hall, and the small group of dancers waiting to perform the traditional grace dance before the meal.

The girl is suddenly filled with joyousness, with a tingling awareness of life, feeling, and the need to communicate the inexplicable. She runs down the stairs to the rotunda space where a fountain is at the centre of the circle the dancers are forming for the evening thanks dance. She doesn’t wait for the dance leader, simply steps into the circle and gives the signal for all to join hands.

 As the dancers join hands, she feels the circle form and the joy she feels begin to move through everyone in the circle. She has a vision of thanks for the day, gratitude that acknowledges each moment that brought the evening’s meal to them: earth, plowed, then planted, moistened by rain, warmed by sun, fronds of wheat waving gracefully, harvested and ground by the mill, brought in sacks loaded on a patient donkey to the school kitchens where it was mixed, baked, and set by the side of the fountain waiting to be blessed.

The energy she felt and her connection with the dancers let the scenes she saw be seen by others, covered the dancers bodies with a vision of the journey from seed to bread, but she didn’t have either the strength or skill to maintain the vision. She was suddenly returned to the hall, and and sound of water from fountain, as dancers broke from the circle.

She falls, crying, to the tile floor. The other students whisper, waiting to see what would happen to her. She broke the first rule for a student, that a student never leads a dance; only dance masters may lead.

 She overhears two kitchen servants called to the hall by the disturbance, “Ah, she’ll have to leave. She’s forgotten she creates the dance. The illusion took her and she broke down.”

The dance master approaches her, lifts her gently to her feet, and tells her to pack her clothes and prepare to leave immediately. She must wait by the gate for further instructions.

I am still working on unfolding the story and continue to be astonished by the amount of information packed into the dream, and the freshness of it so many years later. The novel is now 30,000 words and still growing.

Join the discussion: Have dreams ever played a part in your writing? Have you tried using active imagination?


Three Tools to Explore Resistance

I missed posting last week. Have you ever experienced a time when everything that was simple seems complicated? When finishing regular tasks takes three times as long? When every thought seems to veer off the straight path and into some other very fuzzy train of thought? That was my week last week. Despite many hours at my desk nothing worth writing about emerged and all my draft posts seemed totally unworthy. I was deep in a huge feeling of resistance.

The first thing that began to create some movement was Trevor Simpson’s SoulClarity Newsletter where he shared an auto-responder message:

Resistance Autoreply: From the desk of ….. “Thank you for your e-mail. I will be in resistance until Monday February 23, but will return your message once I am back from the state of denial.”

Trevor’s correspondent was feeling some resistance too. Funny how comforting it was, finding out that someone shared my state.

Then there were some helpful posts from folks I follow. Lissa Rankin wrote about being more “eggy”, more receptive and less inclined to push your way through on her blog and Marie Forleo interviewed Steven Pressfield about his new book, Turning Pro. Steven wrote the The War of Art and Do the Work about resistance, and had been helpful in the past. The interview sowed some useful seeds.

And then I worked with these guidance tools. Before using the tools I reflected on the question I wanted to ask for guidance in getting through my resistance and came to “What do I need to do to redeem my shadow and clear the way forward for my creative and spiritual work?”

The Tools

1. Susan Seddon Boulet and Michael Babcock’s Goddesses Knowledge Cards

I first used these cards in Atum O’Kane’s Spiritual Guidance course. The art by Boulet is inspiring and the text by Babcock straightforward. Locally they are available from Banyen Books. I received the card for Hathor, an Egyptian Goddess. The card notes, in part, Hathor reminds us that we too must acknowledge all parts of ourselves, that what we call destructive is sometimes necessary to allow creativity and compassion to flourish.

2. The I Ching

It had been years since I consulted the oracle, but I thought it would be interesting to discover how I felt about it now. I received hexagram 31 Influence changing to hexagram 13 Fellowship with Men. The direction that perseverance furthers, encouraging approach by being willing to receive, and waiting until being impelled to action by real influence seemed remarkably apt, particularly with the direction from the second hexagram about both the power of peaceful union with others and the injunction to remember that joining with others is an ideal and the actuality may involve more down to earth considerations bringing people together. Clarity of intention is critical.

3. Consulting a book as an oracle

The practice of using a book as an oracle or guide is one I have found useful before. Sometimes I’ve used the library, walking around until I felt called to a book. This time Roger Housden’s Ten Poems to Set You Free was the one that presented itself. The book fell open to David Whyte’s poem, Self-Portrait. The poem asks a series of questions. One,

“I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing”,

seems to be the exact question for my issue this time. Housden’s essay on his experience of the poem was helpful too.

Readers in the United States — I wish you a happy, delicious, heartful holiday.

Join the conversation: What tools have you found helpful when working with your resistance to work or moving forward?


4 Steps to Renew Creative Flow


Facing the blank page can induce total amnesia and render even a normally chatty person devastatingly silent. When this continues for awhile we can begin to think we have writer’s block. Nothing to say, nowhere to go, nada, nada, nada . . .

1. Questions can help you unplug the flow

Writing the answers to questions that increase your self-knowledge is particularly helpful.

  • What do you appreciate about your mother and father and why?
  • What do you wish you’d known before your first kiss and how would it have changed things?
  • What advice would you most like to give your younger self and why this advice?
  • Who is your favorite superhero and which characteristics do you admire the most?
  • Where is your favorite place on earth or elsewhere in the universe and why is it your favorite?

2. Read your answers aloud. Then reread silently and pick-out the words that have the most meaning for you.

3. Review what you’ve circled or highlighted and write a paragraph about what you’ve discovered about yourself.

4. Review your answers plus your self-knowledge statement and mine them for elements that connect to your creative work.

No writing in progress? Pick the element that resonates for you most strongly and simply start working with it.

Resources to get your writing flowing again:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes

On Writer’s Block: A New Approach to Creativity by Victoria Nelson

Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction by Thaisa Frank & Dorothy Wall

Story Starters: How to Jump-Start Your Imagination, Get Your Creative Juices Flowing, and Start Writing Your Story or Novel by Lou Willett Stanek, Ph.D.

The one that worked for me

Over the years I’ve collected a shelf full of books on writing. In the end the thing that got me writing every day was Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Those pages led to a small note book were I began collecting story and article ideas. Once the routine of Morning Pages was established, I began to add doing just ten minutes a day on a story prompt, drafting one post for the blog, or adding even 500 words on my current novel.

Everyone is different. I discovered that I need variety to keep writing, and I love essays, stories, novels, and poetry. Once I had enough raw writing, revision became a part of my daily routine too. In the end the advice always seems to be the same.

  • Write.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Writing is revising.
  • Just spill it on the page to start.
  • Get it out. Get it down.
  • You can clean it up later.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you feel blocked?