What’s stopping you from your creative dream and what to do instead

It’s a hobby of mine to ask people about the secret dreams they’ve given up on. As a childhood witness to adult disappointments, I learned there is no better guarantee of failure than to succumb to one of these 5 all-star reasons for letting your dreams go unfulfilled. It’s almost as if people with chronically unfulfilled dreams have substituted the reason for not doing it for the thing itself, so attached do they become to that reality, instead of putting their energy into creating the one they desire.

Bottom line: Success is never guaranteed. But you can guarantee failure by continuing to not take action on your dreams. How wrong would you like to be? Do you recognize any of these?

I don’t know how to do it.

Of course you don’t! The good news is, you don’t have to know everything in advance. (When was the last time that happened?) The myth is that the people who succeed have some kind of special knowledge or insider info. But the truth is, everybody starts somewhere, many people have false starts, and the ones who make it just keep going until they get it right. And THEN we learn about them, and it appears to be something that just popped into place, when actually they’ve traveled a long road to get to where they are. What to do: Brainstorm a list of steps you’ll need to take in order to begin. Study your list until it becomes clear which one is the actual starting point. Hint: It’s the one that doesn’t require any of the other steps to happen first. Then, do that step. If you have to,  break it down into a series of micro steps to create momentum. Micro steps count. Celebrate each one as if you’ve just crossed the finish line of a marathon.

I don’t have the resources to do it.

Broken record time: Of COURSE you don’t have the resources to do it! I’m reading a ridiculous story written in 1922 about three privileged boys who get into some kind of excitement. What could possibly hold my attention throughout this book I don’t know, because the first 3 chapters have been real yawners. You know why? The 3 boys in the book all have unlimited resources. Where is the challenge in that? I mean, who cares what happens to these guys? They’ll always be able to buy their way out of it or lean on connections. They have resources. You, not so much. But don’t worry, you will develop them. Honestly, you don’t know what you’ll need until you start the process. What a concept. What to do: See step one. Just get started. As you negotiate the steps, part of what you’ll master will be getting the resources you need. Another great myth is that people who accomplish things do so on their own. You will have to create partnerships, ask for help and excite people about your project. Start now. Your commitment needs to be solid when you reach your next hurdle.

Somebody else has done it before me and better than I could.

Well, okay, so you want to do what someone else has already done. Do you want to do it to be the inventor of it, or for the experience of doing it? Do you need it to be the best, or simply something you accomplished? Does someone else’s achievement negate yours? Is there room for only one? After you get clear on why you want to do this, and you’re sure it’s for the experience, not to be the best in the world, here’s what to do: Find the person who’s done it first and better and find out how they did it. They are a gold mine of information and resources. Instead of seeing a competitor, see an ally. After all, this is someone who shared your dream and made it happen. They might be eager to help you avoid some of the mistakes they made. And p.s., somebody else is going to come along after you and do it even better.

I’ll never make it.

Again, examine your motives. Is “making it” your motivator? As I wrote in a previous article, at least 50% of making it is out of our control. Once you’ve cleared that up, stop predicting failure and get into action. You absolutely will not make it if you fail to act. And now’s an excellent time to make sure you really want what you think you want. A good exercise to do in case you’re not sure is the “and then what?” exercise. Pretend you’ve achieved your dream. What would you do then? I want to be a famous author. After that, I’d travel around collecting stories from interesting people and writing them. Guess what? I don’t have to wait to become famous to do what I want to do! I can do that first, and maybe, just maybe, the fame will come. But I will have fulfilled the part that I definitely can do. And maybe that dream of fame was only a stand-in for what I really wanted: to take myself seriously and commit to doing what my heart is telling me I would love and enjoy.

Maybe your dream of fame is a stand-in for what you really want: to take yourself seriously &… Click To Tweet

It’s too late.

File this under “Summer’s half over!” and “I can’t believe in 6 weeks it’ll be Christmas!” It’s only too late if you say it is. But, you protest, “I’m old, slow, over the hill, out of the loop.” So…get into the loop. Whether you have a couple of decades of a couple of months left to your life, you can either decide to drop out or keep living until it’s over. “It’s too late” is one of those subtle confidence busters that keep us from taking action on our dreams. The way you can tell it’s a distraction is there’s nothing constructive you can do to make it go away. It merely springs back in another form, an inarguable, slippery, exhausting point of view that begs to be given into. Or ignored. What to do: Keep moving toward your dreams. If it really is too late to achieve the whole thing, is it time to give it up peacefully? If you don’t feel peaceful about letting it go, then it’s not time. Keep focused on what you can do today. Tomorrow is an unknown for all of us. I’d like to be able to say I’m struggling with different challenges than today’s when and if tomorrow rolls around.

Want to jump start your dream? Download my free ebook, Happily Creative: How to Become a Happy Creative in Just 30 Days! The first 10 pages give you tools for handling confidence busters, and the remainder is a 30-day guided experience in doing something everyday toward your creative dreams.

12 Things You Can Do To Get Started on Your First (or Next) Book (Painlessly)

Sometimes, for reasons unknown to us, we can’t. get. started. even if the project is something we REALLY, REALLY want to do. Often it’s overwhelm that gets us. We don’t know quite where to begin. Writing that first word, especially if it’s our first go with making a book, can be intimidating. The good news is there are tons of things you can do before you actually start writing your book.

And these are not frilly, fool-yourself-into-doing-something things. These are actually important to do. These first 11 are the least threatening of the many things it pays to do before getting started with the writing, or at least early in the process.

Stay tuned for part two, in which we start getting a little more technical, but no less preparatory and necessary to your badass love project’s success.

Here you go:

  1. Start by writing down everything you know about your book idea: what the topic, title, nonfiction, fiction? Just like you would if you were telling someone about it. “It’s a book about…” You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you write down. Also, you’ll be practicing a happy creative habit that’s hard to beat: Find a way to capture your great ideas so you don’t have to remember them! Free up some hard drive space and write down your book idea.

2. Start a list of possible titles, chapters, and other content. Again, just give  your imagination free rein. “There will be a poem between each chapter, and quotations that are mysterious, and references to music. There will be an entire universe….”

3. And on that note: Will it be illustrated? Have quotations? Questions for the reader to answer? Flesh it out in your mind and on paper.

4. Write or draw some character sketches. This is self-explanatory, but if you do need more guidance, imagine your characters not only in the roles they play in your work, but also in the rest of their “off-camera” lives. What’s in their sock drawer? Where do they keep their money? Bills facing the same way, or a crumbled mess in the front pocket of their greasy jeans? What do they smell like? Etc. Even if it’s a first person narrator in nonfiction, how do you want that person to come across?

5. While you’re dreaming and sketching, picture your ideal reader. Who are they and what do they care about? What else do they read? Brainstorm a list of who would be interested in your book.

6. Think about how your readers will find you. Where do they hang out? How do they find books? Supermarket check-out? Back pages of specialty mags? Internet? This all makes a difference later when you’ll be making publishing and marketing decisions. (Isn’t that beyond exciting? You will be making publishing and marketing decisions!)

7. A related question: how do you see people using your book?  By themselves, in groups, with their therapist or coach, on a cruise?

8. Try drawing or sketching your cover. What colors go with your book? What textures, what design features, what century and feel? Western? Army? Victorian? Friendly? Comforting?

9. How do you see yourself writing it, in what time frame, and by what method? Will you write a little every day, record and transcribe? Get it done this year? 5 years? Whenev?

10. Read up on how authors go about writing your kind of book. Whether it’s a workbook, mystery or historical fiction, each author uses specific methods and processes to create them. Will you have to map out the plot and scenes ahead of time? Will you work from an outline? Find out how some of your favorite writers do it.

11. Lastly, could there be other, related products as well? Should there be a video? Music? Mugs? Just dream and wonder. And wander.

Next time, we’ll get into some of nitty-gritty, but for today, try easing into these 11 not-too-taxing ways to get started on the darned thing.

And, last, what not to do: Sit and fret about it one more day.

Can’t quite get there on your own?

After you download my ebook, Happily Creative: How to Become a Happy Creative in Just 30 Days, focus on just the first 10 pages, and ignore the rest for now.  The first 10 pages are specific tools to help you overcome the three major mental and emotional obstacles that keep us from getting started.

I’d love to have you join my tribe of happy creatives.

Five things that stop you from creating and what to do about them

If there’s nothing else you get out of this article, I want you to remember this one oddly comforting and horribly true thing: Nobody cares. Now, onto the things that stop you from putting pen or brush to paper or canvas, or writing that song or resume–and what you can do about them.

Fear of Failure

I’m not sure what people mean by this, because there are so many ways to fail, it’s almost impossible to count them. I’m tempted to ask, but I think that would just make these people more fearful. That said, there are also countless ways to succeed.

The key is to define success for yourself. This is a necessary step in the creative process anyway, as soon as you set out to do something specific. It helps to have something in mind that you’re aiming for, and it could be something as simple as wanting to create a better one than the last one.

But artists generally focus on an aspect of the work and are much more specific than that. They also set personal challenges for themselves: “I want to get the shading right.” “I want to widen my vocabulary and description powers.” “I want to try poetry.” “I want to write a gospel song.”

See how this is not copping out and going easy on yourself, but actually creating a specificity it’s damned hard to be afraid of? The worst that can happen is you don’t get the shading right. Not the end of the world and public shaming.

What to do: Set a personal success target that has nothing to do with anyone else. What would constitute achievement, a new high mark, make you proud? If the answer is nothing, examine your mindset. If literally nothing is ever good enough, you are probably driving yourself crazy and upset everywhere in your life, not just with your creative projects and art.

Setting unrealistic expectations

Related to fear of failure and defining success, this has to do with imposing expectations and requirements you feel you must be held to in order for it to “count.” Example: first time writer wants to write a runaway bestseller. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting that, and it certainly is possible, having that be your sole motivator is intrinsically disempowering. Whether something becomes a hit or not is at least 50% out of your control (maybe more like 80%) and is a bonus to actually making something of good quality that you will be proud to put your name on.

Fantasizing about being rich and famous because of your work is one thing; using that fantasy as a standard of success is all or nothing thinking, and a set-up for disappointment.

What to do: Break your expectations and benchmarks into much smaller, doable steps. Want to write a bestseller? Sketch out story ideas. Make a reading list. Schedule in a time every day to write. Browse the Amazon bestseller list. Write your chapter headings. Write character sketches. Map out the plot. If these are too big, guess what? Make them even smaller. Clear the space, get the notebook or document file up, and mess around, for a specific period of time.

Fear of criticism

Repeat after me: Nobody cares. Criticism happened when you were in school and everybody had to pass judgement on everybody else, before we were all enlightened and realized that good/bad, right/wrong is old school, and there’s something for everyone, and process and product and purpose are three different things. So shut up. (I may have digressed a little.) What happens when we’re adults and we create something someone else doesn’t like is they ignore it and move on.

If you create something you don’t like, you move on. And if there’s anyone left in your life who’s criticizing you on a regular basis, besides the gremlin that’s criticizing you (and me) right now, distance yourself quickly.

And p.s., it’s really good to know if your biggest critic is you, because that’s so normal. But still ignore it and move on. See of Fear of Failure and Setting Unrealistic Expectations, above.

What to do: Create anyway.

Thinking you should know how to do everything from the outset

Now didn’t I just say you could have an idea of something you wanted to accomplish? And didn’t I say that you could use that as a measure of success instead of whether you went viral because of it? What I didn’t tell you is, you won’t automatically know how to do what you’re setting out to do. This is why it’s a benchmark and a goal. It’s going to force you to grow. Yay! This is not a reason not to start. Stopping yourself here is a form a perfectionism.

What to do: Stay present and as each problem is encountered, do your best to solve it. Research how others do it. Experiment. Realize that it may take you hundreds of tries before you master something. The journey of a thousand miles consists of with one tentative, innocent, misguided and wrong step after another. Wrong isn’t the end of the world. And once you’ve mastered whatever, you will feel as if you’ve actually been to the end of the world, and you’ll want to go back again, as soon as possible.

Thinking it should turn out as you pictured it

Making goals and configuring your idea of success are great ways to get yourself off the starting mark, but by the same token, being too rigid about the outcome can make you judge yourself a failure, a disincentive to continue or try again.

Creativity is a process of making something where there are no instructions–and nobody cares. (Did I mention that?) Give yourself permission to follow the process, be alive in the moment and surrender to the dictates of something wiser than–gasp!–your logical mind. Get to enjoy not knowing, flying by the seat of your pants and all those other things that got you into trouble in school. In the creative process, there are no bad grades, only people who don’t show up.

In the creative process, there are no bad grades, only people who don’t show up. Click To Tweet

What to do: If you want to get over yourself and start being happy already, download my book, Happily Creative: How To Become a Happy Creative in Just 30 Days! It’s a 30 Day Plan that includes dealing with perfectionism, fear of failure, lack of ideas, the time-space continuum and guides you through the revolutionary process of putting a stake in the ground of your life and saying “YES!” to creating everyday for the next 30 days. Now THAT’S badass.

Yes, I want to be a a happily creative badass!

Your Book: Get Started by Learning to Break Some Rules

Let’s forget for a moment the inevitable blank page. It’s the blank page that scares you, isn’t it, when you think about finally sitting down to tell something?

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Well let me scare you a little bit more.

What it really takes to get started filling blank page after blank page is wasting paper, using up pens, being selfish, amounting to nothing and wasting lots and lots of time. These are the sins you have to get used to committing every single day.

I use these words deliberately, because they are the right words, and because you have to become desensitized to the very things that have kept you in check, kept you from making mistakes, kept you from costing anybody anything, from wasting, from looking bad and from failing.

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Creativity is wasteful. And being willfully wasteful means being willing to make mistakes and to throw things out if they’re not right. Being true to a vision means starting over again and again. It means approximating. Failing. Giving up. Trying again.

To fill that blank page, to ruin its perfect blankness, you have to be willing to fail utterly, miserably and totally. Failure has to lose its sting and hold over you. Perfection has to lose its appeal. The blank page is perfect. Perfect doesn’t get you anywhere.

What gets you somewhere is courage. Perversity. Stubbornness. Frustration. Desperation.

Creativity means living in the reality that there’s a never-ending supply of words, concepts, colors, modes of expression, truths, stories, moments, time (and pens) with which to make your statement. It is an act of faith.

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What really stops you is that you don’t believe and trust that a never-ending supply will be routed to you, that the invisible pipe-layers of creativity will notice and make sure the plethora opens to you.

Filling the blank page means doing it anyway,  even if they forget you, even if no one listens, even if the plethora dried up and nobody told you. It is finding it within yourself to be more than you think you are, to be the supply if you have to.

Uncle Bob used to tell the story of his father sitting on the back step opening watermelons one by one and tossing them aside it they weren’t just right. You know what happened to that pile of watermelons Uncle Bob’s father threw aside? They rotted and became dirt. Which grew more watermelons, or tomatoes, or squash, or peppers. Or daisies, or grass. Which fed people and bees and birds and creatures, which by now have all died and become dirt and have fed others and on and on and on.

This is life. To create recklessly means to be part of the great, messy, sometimes rotting cycle of life. Underneath the pavement, where the dirt is. Underneath what’s underneath.

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Messy, reckless, heedless, wasteful, sloppy, selfish and useless. Whether they’re aware of it or not, this is the portal each creative person passes through on the way to producing the finished product you consume. You consume it whole, and it goes down easily. It’s perfect. You assume it was born that way.

But know that it wasn’t.

Quickly, or effortlessly, consciously or un-, or bit by bit, every person who’s ever created something has had to say it’s okay to break the inner rules of decorum in order to get something down, in order to begin.

Are you willing to be messy, reckless, heedless, wasteful, sloppy, selfish and useless? Are you willing to waste time and risk failing? Are you willing to do something courageous and difficult, lacking faith, evidence, experience? What matters is the impetus to create, to tell something. It doesn’t matter one iota whether you succeed on the first try or the millionth, or never succeed at all.

But today’s lesson is that you will never get to either one if you don’t allow yourself to begin.

Exercise: Get out a blank piece of paper and several pens. Unlined paper is best, but lined will do. If it’s lined, turn it 90 degrees so the lines go up and down. Now sully the paper. It doesn’t matter how. Words, lines, doodles, shapes, scratches, blobs. Mess up the whole thing. Make it awful. Make it utter trash. When you’re done ruining it, ball it up and throw it away.

Caution: You might fall in love with what you’ve produced. It’s entirely up to you what to do with it in that case. I have no advice for that. You’ve entered the most sacred and private, personal and quirky place of all. If this happens, take time to be with the experience. Because what you keep from that is no longer on the page. It’s inside you. Forever.

The two reasons I advocate writing every day are so it becomes easy to waste the paper, time, ink and effort, and to strengthen that holy bond between creative impulse and creative effort.

Stay tuned for lesson two.

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Photo credits: All except the pens are from unsplash.com, and if you click on the photo, the name of the photographer will be in your browser bar. Photo of pen graveyard: Phyllis Capanna.

Say “Yes!’ to telling your hero’s story and serving your clients in an even deeper way! You’ll receive my Healing Arts Entrpreneur gift package, digests from this blog, helpful free downloads for your business, and be the first to know about my new Must-Share-Your Message Healer’s Book Creation Program.

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How I Learned How to Learn: An Anecdotal Case Study of Right-Handed Juggling and Left-Handed Drumming

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I was sitting in a drum workshop yesterday, when it hit me how much I’ve learned about learning since taking up drumming. I’m more comfortable with the learning process now than at any time in the past. When considered from the point of view of having attended public schools in the 1960s in suburban New Jersey, this is something of a miracle.

For all the things my excellent public school education did teach me, the one thing it didn’t was how to learn – Unless the best way to learn is to sit at a desk quietly listening to what a teacher is saying up at the front of the classroom. It never was for me, but I’m an adaptable sort, and it took me until entering an occupational therapy program in college at age 30 to learn that I’m a kinesthetic learner. I learn by touching, by doing and by experiencing.

Let me back up even farther, though. I have to tell you first that I was born left-handed. The kind of leftie who doesn’t hook their wrist when writing, whose writing doesn’t slant backwards, who doesn’t have to hold the page almost horizontally in order to write on the lines. In other words, a natural leftie.

In this right-handed world, I’ve always been confused about left and right. The reason is I learned at an early age to translate in my mind the word “right” – as relates to hands – as “left.” I then translate every other “right” as a “left” and before I know it, I’m giving bad directions.

Another thing: I was smitten by the juggling bug back in the 80s, when I hooked up with a cute guy who juggled on the streets of Cambridge (Massachusetts) for a living. He hung out with the nicest geeks, all obsessed with how to toss something and catch it, multiply by 3 or 5 or 7, and repeat – without dropping them.

My road to learning how to juggle was long and uphill. I got really good at retrieving rolling objects. Soon, though, I learned to practice standing at the side of my bed, so dropped balls fell closer. Retrieval became much easier.

Since retrieval was easier, I didn’t worry so much about dropping. I started focusing on my tossing instead, aiming for a nice, easy, high arc from hand to hand. Wild differences between my right hand to left hand and my left hand to right hand tosses were ironed out. Soon, I could juggle three beanbags without dropping.

Then I moved on to juggling pins, then to juggling with a partner. When juggling with a partner, there are conventions to follow. One is to always start with a right hand toss. Thus, without realizing it, I became a right-handed juggler by first becoming a balanced juggler.

Fast forward 15 years, and drumming entered my life. I can’t explain what happened in words. Just picture someone pointing, mouth agape, kind of hopping around with a bemused expression on their face. That was me the first time I woke up to the magic of drumming. “I want to do that!” was all I could manage to say.

And then I discovered the frame drum. The frame drum community also has its share of geeks, also wonderful people who share an obsession. This one is about rhythms that make your spirit soar. As I sat in my workshop yesterday, I couldn’t think of any other group of people I felt more at home with. In fact, I wanted to hold them all close and never go home. It was that kind of week.

In the frame drum tradition we follow, each stroke has a name, and the beat is kept by stepping in place. Right. Left. Right. Left. The rhythms are often syncopated and often in odd-numbered time signatures. Playing in 7 / 8 or 2 / 3 is not unusual.

Since we have two feet (if not, everyone has two sides to their body), we are always stepping (or rocking) in 2. To learn a rhythm, then, a frame drummer steps in two, plays in 5 or 7 or 3, and speaks the rhythm, all at the same time.

This does a number on your brain, ultimately a good thing. But at first, it’s an uncomfortable, frustrating, absolutely unparalleled experience of disorientation. Every automatic circuit for doing things is temporarily unhooked and plugged in somewhere else. Thankfully, I made the decision in my first frame drum workshop to hold and play left-handed. Otherwise, I might be there still.

How I responded to the challenge of learning the frame drum was the same way I responded to the challenge of learning to juggle. I obsessed. I walked the long, uphill path until I could play that first rhythm. And, effortlessly, I switched “left” for “right” when I encountered it in the notation.

But, somehow, after that, when I would be in a drum workshop learning something new and found myself again on the uphill path, I would have two struggles: the one in which my body was learning a new skill, and the one in which my mind was telling me I should already be able to do this.

Where did this crazy idea come from?

I’m reminded of the error messages I sometimes get on my computer. Often they tell me what’s going wrong in a matter-of-fact way. “Your disk storage is almost full.”

At other times, an error message doesn’t make sense. “Error ACQ-956.” Eventually, I realize it’s more of a red flag: not meant to point the way to a fix, just saying, “Something’s wrong here, beware!”

“Restart!” someone will call from across a room or across time. And I do, and it’s fixed.

Those crazy thoughts and feelings that go through my mind when I’m learning something new are just the system saying, “Holy crap, we don’t know what just hit us, but disequilibrium has occurred! Go back to eating popcorn and watching Netflix!!”

When, really, another part of me is perfectly content, knowing I’m engaged in something that will ultimately be a rewarding and expansive experience.

To sum up, here’s what I’ve learned about learning from juggling and drumming:

  1. Learning is a continual process of letting go of the conscious mind’s wish to figure things out and resultant freak-out at not being able to, trusting the body, learning to hold a relaxed but firm, yet fluid and rhythmic stance, all while breathing and smiling.
  2. Learning something new doesn’t have to be serious, even when you’re obsessed and determined and want badly to master it. Obsession can look like grim determination. Check in with your heart. If it’s happy, smile. Smiling makes the learning process go better.
  3. Mastery takes practice. Practice only helps if you learn from your mistakes as well as from what you did well. It’s like constantly stirring something into a wonderful batter. Regularly taste the batter and correct as needed.
  4. It’s more fruitful to focus on doing the best you can than on avoiding making mistakes. Do what you can to mitigate the consequences of your mistakes, and then feel free to make as many of them as necessary.
  5. It’s possible to strengthen your weak spots, illuminate your unconscious places, and balance your skills so that something like synchrony can take place.
  6. It’s also possible for perplexed agitation to be replaced by enlightened curiosity when confronted with something you don’t know how to do and are convinced will never be able to do (perhaps because of a genetic flaw that only you have.)
  7. You can do and enjoy things that don’t come naturally to you, if you want to, not because fame and fortune and social media posts, but because doing them liberates things in your brain that badly need liberating.
  8. When you’re in the learning process, it seems as you will always be a beginner. You will always be a beginner, but it will become less uncomfortable the more time you spend there.
  9. There are other people just as crazy as you learning this weird thing, too. Find them, play with them, befriend them and let them see you drop, slip, and fall out of rhythm. Then laugh with them. They are your kind of crazy. I promise.

How about you? Let us know in the comments: What are you learning about learning in the new ventures you’re embarking on? What’s your obsession? Who are your geeky friends on the path?

Until next time,

PhyllisSig

 

by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2016 Phyllis Capanna

How Self-Care and Business-Care are Inseparable for Spirit Solo-preneurs

1 in 5 Americans works from home. In 2015 that amounted to about 48 million people. If you are one of these hardy souls, you know that working from home has its challenges. And if you’re a sensitive, caring spirit-preneur type –  a healer, energy worker, integrative health practitioner, alternative medicine practitioner, naturopath, herbalist, Reiki practitioner, animal communicator, workshop leader, Qoya facilitator, massage therapist, body worker, etc. – you’re probably more likely to be sensitive to the needs of others, sacrificing your personal or business time to take care of someone else.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been guilty of throwing my needs overboard at the first invitation. Because isn’t that what life is constantly doing? Inviting us to choose where to place our attention and energy? Whether we know it or not, life is made of such choices. The problem is, I didn’t always know that’s what I was choosing. And then, inevitably I’d start feeling resentful or overwhelmed, and that’s when I’d realize that no one’s gonna take care of my business but me.

In my case, I have the added factor that my partner and I both run businesses, and one of them is seasonal. So when Spring hits, one of us kicks into high gear and the whole household moves to Vacationland.

When I first hooked up with my Seasonally Effective Partner, I was completely unhinged by picking up and moving in the springtime.  Not only does my partner hit the ground running to capitalize on the short window of time before guests arrive, but she starts sleeping at camp as soon as it’s warm enough to get the water going. This way, she can capitalize on every moment of daylight. It makes sense for her.

I’ve had several seasons to wrangle with this thing, and this year I’ve done better than any other year with keeping head and ass together during the big transition time, the start of camp season:

I kept to my own pace and timing. I didn’t move out to camp right away. I wanted to clean out some closets, get the guest room ready for some summer visitors, and do a few small painting and maintenance jobs during nice weather and before summer got into full swing. Also, I wanted to move back in to an orderly home in the Fall.

So I excused myself from having to move, helping with getting camps ready, closing up the winter house and opening the summer one, while keeping up with my business, reporting to my tiny hospital job, and preparing the meals and doing the grocery shopping.

My partner managed to feed herself and generally stay alive and well during what felt to me like breaking a law of nature. I had to check my tendency to make sure she realized I wasn’t there. But this beat by a long shot what in previous years was the tendency to make sure she understood what a sacrifice I was making. (Yech.)

I have also kept my regular work hours, and I’m doing that at our winter home. I’m using this opportunity to see how it would feel to have an office space of my own outside the house year-round, something I’ve toyed with this past year.

With the success of making different choices has come a deeper understanding of the unconscious choices I’ve made before. It’s been a huge and welcome lesson and a great step forward in my self care and the care of my business. In fact, the two are inseparable. Wow.

So here are the 9 self-care and business-care boundaries that are working for me and my solo spirit-preneur business of coaching solo spirit-preneurs. I’ve added an additional 4 specifically aimed at maintaining healthy boundaries during times of transition and change.

No matter your particular circumstances, you too will have to steer yourself and your business through times of change, including let’s hope, the transition to a more healthy, more thriving business. Here’s to that!

9 Self-Care/Business-Care Boundaries for Solo Spirit-Preneurs

1. Make and keep regular work hours. My habit is to work on my business in the morning, because that’s my good time of day. Some days I have a different schedule, because I work outside the home, too. Even if your business is just starting out, make and keep those work hours!

2. Have a separate space dedicated to your work. Sure, I work on a laptop, and I can type anywhere and often do, in the evenings, sit in the living room while my GF is on hers, and we socialize or watch a movie. I toyed with the idea of wearing a certain hat while working, but it seemed easier to just use the office, which is a reclaimed bedroom/catch-all room.

3. Leave your phone in the other room. Also close out the cat, the dog, the laundry, and the mailman. Train your friends that you’re not available during those times. If you must access your phone, use the Do Not Disturb function.

4. Schedule time off and keep to it. More on this in a previous post on managing the To-Do List. Add to this: take breaks during your work time. Drink water, pee, go outside and breathe air. I like to do laundry during work time, because it provides built-in stretch and pee breaks. Plus, I often have aha’s while hanging the laundry.

5. Notice your tendency to jump in and help others, and squelch it. When someone expresses a need, practice doing and saying nothing. Wait until someone else volunteers or the person figures it out for themselves. Ask yourself, “If I were out of the country, or had no car, what would this person do?” Often, we are the ones who appoint ourselves the go-to gal or guy. See how people get their needs met when you dismount from the white horse. Magic. If it can’t be avoided, schedule the helping task for outside your regular working hours. Also magic.

6. Just because someone else in the house changes something in their life, doesn’t mean you have to change everything in yours. Corollary: If the other person’s change is going to transgress your boundaries, speak up. “That won’t work: It’s during my work time. How about having the energy audit, birthday party, international balloon summit in the afternoon?”

7. Understand and respect your limitations. This has two corollaries: scale back your expectations of yourself and learn how to ask for help. Believe it or not, in years past I still saw it as my duty to feed my partner, even if she was out at camp working all day and I was in town working. I would figure out a dinner, head out to camp and cook for us. I think deep down I was afraid that if we didn’t eat together we’d grow apart. Another point of view blown. Yay. And for some reason, the words, “Will you…?” come unnaturally to my head and mouth. Practice uttering them, after asking yourself, what would it be great if somebody else took on so I can do my business?”

8. Double down on self care. Especially during transitions and when things are going really well. It’s essential to keep a self care routine. No matter what else is going on with me, I write my morning pages, I floss at night. I read my recovery literature, and I cook a meal from scratch. Many days, I also take a walk.

9. Halve your expectations. My usual method for getting things done is to schedule a blitz so that I get it over with. I’m an INFJ, and Js hate long transitions. When it’s over, it’s over (Think: saying your good-byes at a party or those last ten minutes of church).  My expectations of myself usually have to do with how long it will take me to accomplish something. For the Spring to Summer transition, I gave myself a couple of weeks. Just when I was starting to feel I’d never get everything done, I reconfigured the whole plan, and gave myself essentially most of the summer to accomplish those tasks, because, after all, I’d be going there nearly every day to work. Changing the time frame also impacted my self-care: I was able to maintain my sleep schedule, sane eating, and getting in some movement time. And getting my work done was no longer an emergency. I’d be back it again tomorrow.

I wonder how other stay-at-home workers, creatives and business people manage to run their business in the midst of a household. Even if you don’t have a seasonal business as we do, any change to the home front impacts your business: moving, remodeling, caring for a family member, neighborhood events like construction (even tree-felling!), weather changes.

What have I missed? What self-care and work-care boundaries are essential for you?

Until tomorrow-

PhyllisSig

 

by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2016 Phyllis Capanna

To-Do List Take Two: A Completely Different Way to Wrangle an Impossible Amount of Ambition, Pressure, Desire and Enthusiasm Within the Confines of the Three Dimensions of Time, Space and Physicality

I’ve been on a wild (internal) ride since the meeting of my guided mastermind group yesterday. To boil it all down to a nugget of truth, I’m in a time of vast transition in my business, as I work to bring my online presence and my offline work together to create one cohesive whole thing, my business.

I tell you this because my new focus for this blog will be helping people in business as solo spirit-preneurs navigate the many aspects of that work, which is the business I’m building offline, the work I love to do, and the thing that people call for advice about lots.

Now, the Universe is a funny place. That is, It has a sense of humor. My treatise on managing the to-do list was published yesterday, and I also handed out copies to my Mastermind-ers. We all agreed to create a specific target or goal each week and to use our accountability buddies to help keep us on track for the month. We also agreed to post to our private FB group daily, to keep in closer contact and keep our heads in the game, so to speak.

When I sat down to journal about the group and all  it stirred up for me, I found myself staring at an impressively gargantuan list of tasks parading down the page like a wild gang without a leader.

The leader part was supposed to be my job. But no matter which way I turned my head, the tasks refused to be anything other than a jumble. Then I realized – Eureka! – I’m in a time of huge transition, and, a little more slowly, why don’t I use my to-do list system?

So I did, and… I was still overwhelmed.

Because there’s another layer to the whole thing, especially when you’re basically making stuff up as you go along: Sometimes there’s no basis whatsoever on which to prioritize tasks. I mean, basically, change everything, in no particular order, because eventually everything has to change, and hope it matters to someone other than you, your partner (because, sanity) and your potential customers and clients.

And in the interest of nitty-gritty particulars and transparency, here is the to-do list I was wrangling:

  1. Write and submit a 1000-word article to _____ _____ magazine for consideration to become a regular contributor. (First, inquire about rights, exclusivity and circulation)
  2. Re-brand, re-name and refocus my blog and newsletter (and business).
  3. Start promoting 1st webinar (How to Write and Publish Your Calling-Card Book, for Spirit-Preneurs.)
  4. Create Webinar.
  5. Start marketing the Fall guided Mastermind group.
  6. Consider tweaking my book focus to be more in alignment with new business focus.
  7. Finish book.

This morning, I was still wrangling. Everything seems to hinge on creating this new business identity, which isn’t something that can happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean I have to wait for the perfect name before I start writing the articles and creating the products and services.

Then, mysteriously, I found myself writing the following:

“…but I need to attend to the Mastermind-ers every single day, to apply myself there and to write my reflections in the blog. That’s the method I’m gonna adopt, as a 30-day experiment: Masterminds, FB post, reflections, publish. Only way out is through. Okay, that actually feels much more doable. Doable! And exciting.”

And somehow, it all came into focus and started making sense. Don’t even ASK what that thought process was, because I can’t recreate it. I don’t think there was thought involved. I think it was instinct. All I can say is, it just feels right. Starting with what’s right in front of me, trusting that what I need will be provided, and knowing that with the skills I’ve honed so far, of listening for and recognizing the ring of truth when it’s there, one day at a time, I can and will create a business that’s whole, relevant and fun.

My advice if you’re in the overwhelmed-by-change boat: Recognize you’re in transition, check your tendency to obsess and over-think and over-plan, and try just focusing on what’s right in front of you today. And if there’s a really simple thing that can be done, just go ahead and do it.

So here’s my question for you: How do you manage transition in your work or life? What’s the crazy aspect of you during times of change? What’s your strength? Let us know in the comments!

Until tomorrow,

PhyllisSig

by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2016 Phyllis Capanna

 

 

Understanding the 4 Types of To-Do Tasks for Solo Biz Owners

Healers, Energy Workers and Creatives of all types who’ve decided to make their calling a business are also small business owners. Getting grounded in the particulars can do a world of good for the energy flow of your business.

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post represents a shift in the focus of the Joy Report toward articles that speak to the needs of people in business for themselves in the healing and creative professions. We hope you enjoy it.]

As small business owners, we carry stuff around in our heads in a seemingly never-ending tangle of tasks to be attended to. Having this constant sense of needing to do things to keep our business on track, to grow it, or to just keep up with our skills can leave us feeling drained and in constant fear of failure at the very thing we love the most. (Besides our cats, our coffee and our partners, of course!)

At some point, most of us at least get to putting the tangle down on paper in list form. Which is a nice start, but where to go from there? One key to prioritizing, contrary to how most of us tackle the list, is to understand the different types of activities represented by our long list of to-dos.

Stephen Covey, in his classic “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” created a values-based system, a grid that is useful in understanding why prioritizing can be so challenging: Some items just shout louder, while others silently take up mental and energetic space and never get done. Meanwhile, we find ourselves doing the not important, not urgent things because they help us feel accomplished (or help us zone out to deal with the stress of our list!)

7 Habits Grid

But what if we can’t identify what’s important, because it all feels about the same amount of urgent and necessary?

Another Approach

I’d like to propose a different approach, one that I use, that helps me understand what’s going on with the beast I call my to-do list. In other words, what role do these items actually play in my business? Answering the question ”Why are they there?” helps me to know what to do with them. Once I understand the different kinds of tasks that are all mish-mashed together in my head, I can begin to schedule and plan out my approach for getting them done.

Scheduling and planning your tasks is a much more effective, efficient and calming way to approach your endless list of sole proprietor to-dos. More about that in a second. First let’s look at the four types of tasks, so we can begin to clear the fog in a big way.

Okay, get out your to-do list. As we go along, categorize each task on your list. Some, of course, will fall into more than category. That’s okay!

The 4 Basic Types of To-Do Tasks for Solo Biz Owners

Task Type #1: Business Maintenance

These are the tasks we need to do to keep what’s happening happening. Attending to licensure, insurance, paying the monthly bills, cleaning our office, posting to social media and to our blog (which might also fall into Business Building, below), communicating with clients, scheduling, getting in needed supplies, maintaining equipment, processing payments, billing and bookkeeping.

Task Type #2: Business Building

These are the tasks that relate to getting customers and increasing our business income: advertising, crafting offers, bonuses and incentives, publicity, giving talks, and generally strategizing about how to bring in more clients, how to reach the right clients, and how to communicate about what you do in the right places.

Task Type #3: Business Development

Let’s face it, some of us are tweaking our products and services almost all the time. Related to our business identity, these tasks are about branding, telling our story, establishing a presence in our community, even discovering what, where and who our community is. In this category would fall those tasks that pertain to defining, refining and expanding the scope of your business: researching what others in similar fields are doing, developing or creating a class or workshop to see if there’s interest, experimenting with a new product, learning about whether a new service or skill set would fit into what you’re doing, working on your professional bio, researching local organizations that might be a nice complement to what you do, or might help you with your business, creating a name for your business or a title for what you do, or pricing out an addition to your office space to see if it’s feasible.

Task Type #4: Skill-building

These are the activities that develop and hone the skills you need to perform your business or service or offer your product. Those skills are either directly related to your service (learning a new technique), your product (learning how to make or package something), or are directly related to daily business activities, such as operating your computer, camera or video equipment, learning how to keep financial records, etc.

Scheduling and Planning: Take Control of Your Time

Remember earlier I said scheduling and planning tasks is efficient, effective and calming? Here’s where you can Ninja your task list. Look at your typical week and actually write into your schedule regular times for business maintenance, business building, business development and skill-building. The trick is to schedule these times frequently so that you don’t get backlogged with tasks in any one sitting.

How you create your schedule will depend on many factors, such as other commitments, whether you’re doing your business full time or part time, and when the best time of day is to conduct business for your particular business, as well as when you are at your best. Also, you may be fairly lean with maintenance tasks during a lull in business, and this would be an ideal time to schedule more heavily toward one of the other three types of tasks.

An Example: An Everyday Task

One item that shows up on my list often is something like “Email so-and-so about such-and-such.” I might be tempted to lump this into a general category of Emails To Be Sent. Oh joy. I think I’ll get to that right after I pull out my toenails or go bungee jumping. Such is my love for composing and sending 10 emails at a time.

Here’s where it matters whom I’m emailing and why. It might be a client I’m following up with (business maintenance), or someone who’s inquired about my services (business building), or someone who holds a monthly meeting I’d like to attend for networking (business building, business development).

Whichever type of task it is, that’s where the follow-up to the client goes in my schedule. It might be the only email I send during my business maintenance time. Whew. Or, I might actually have 10 emails to send for business maintenance. If I have time bulked out for that every single day, do I have to do them all in one day? Probably not.

Another example: A High Value Task

The more categories a particular task fits into, the more doing that task can potentially do for your business. So, even though it may be labor-intensive, your business stands to gain in multiple ways from doing it. That’s a different kind of efficiency, not to be found in assembly-line types of businesses, but one a small, creatively-based business owner can readily appreciate.

Creating a website is a good example. It’s been on your to-do list forever, right? You’re not sure if you need one, and you definitely don’t know how to create one. If we can break it down into some component parts and analyze what type of tasks they are, we can approach this with a little more clarity and ease. One thing that stops a lot of people from getting a website is they’re not sure it’s going to be worth the trouble and the steep learning curve to actually have the website. What will it do for my business, they ask.

First, there’s the tech (Skill Building) aspect of checking out the many free sites to use for your website and choosing one and learning how to use it. (Hint: You can create an account, mess around with their templates and then decide not to use that site.) If you take 30 minutes for this, you haven’t invested that much time, and it’s enough to know whether you can deal with continuing pursuing the website idea right now. Thirty minutes to save hours is a good investment. If you decide to pursue it, you now have a better idea of how much time to schedule in for this task. (About twice as much as you think you’ll need.)

Then there’s the marketing (Business Building) task of writing the actual content of your site so it accurately represents your business. Working on this also includes deciding which services and products to advertise or focus on and which ones may not be as important to publicize (Business Development). For this website, you’ll need pictures, contact information, and you’ll need to decide whether to publish fees, and perhaps gather some testimonials. (Business Maintenance). By the way, all the content you create for your site can be used again and again on business cards, posters and flyers when you’re advertising specific programs or services at other times and places.

You may find out that you already have all that content scattered around in different places. Collecting it and transferring it to your website gets it all in one place (Business Maintenance).

Another great example of a high value task is getting an office space in which to practice your craft or offer your service. Think about how many decisions you have to make about this, how they relate to your business, and the value to your business of thinking these things through, defining them for yourself, and then actually having the office space.

One Last Thing

Now that you have your to-do list divided into these four categories, or labeled appropriately, you can apply the 7 Habits Grid, or simply prioritize according to whatever makes the most sense for your business.

If, for example, I have a list of maintenance tasks, some of which involve deadlines (such as paying bills), I would obviously to those first.

Tailored To Your Business’ Needs

You now have blocks of time for each of these types of tasks scheduled into your week and a prioritized list within each category. Now you can dedicate 30 minutes one day to investigating free web hosting sites, for example. Once you’ve done that, you’ve accomplished part of your very complex task of creating a website. The trick is, when the time’s up, the time’s up. That’s all you can do today. Also, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other things. Turn off the phone, shut down your email, and close the door.

You decide how often you need to schedule in business maintenance, development, skill building and business building. Ideally, you should have skill building at least weekly. Maintenance is easier if done daily. Business building and development generally take longer and are a little more complex, so schedule in chunks of time devoted just to them.

You can experiment with dedicating certain days for certain activities: Wednesday is business development day. Or create a target, such as, each day do one business building task. This helps build momentum, especially if these tasks are your least favorite. Saturdays could be skills day, where you get to play, create, explore and expand your craft. Be sure and schedule in time for the things about your business that you love. Also, think about what skills you’ll need when your business reaches the next level and start to plan for how you will develop them.

Most Neglected To-Do: Scheduled Time Off

One last point about to-dos and scheduling: Schedule in days or times off from work. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have times when you’re off the hook for accomplishing things. For example, I have an outside job in my original profession that I do two mornings a week. Those afternoons I have off from business tasks. I may end up doing business-related things, but it’s not a requirement. This has reduced my stress 100% on days when I already have to get up at the crack of dawn to go do something unrelated to my business.

Making time to read, take a walk, throw a frisbee, or take in some local culture can do more for your business than the leanest list of tasks ever.

Did I miss anything? Want to pitch a question to our esteemed panel of experts? (That’s you and me.) Comment below and let us know your favorite way of turning to-dos into ta-das or the snarliest snarls in your creative solo biz!

Notes: The idea for this post came from a mentor of mine, Brendon Burchard, creator of Experts Academy and other wonderful tools for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial Angst: Some Things to Consider When Self-Doubt Threatens Your Cool

 

I jotted down some thoughts after the a recent meeting of my guided mastermind group. Many of what follows could well be advice given to anyone just starting out in anything. But mostly it’s for creators, business-makers, solo-preneurs and spirit workers, who tend to work alone, on a vision unique to them, with a dedication that is driven by love, constantly attended by self-doubt and uncertainty.

Some of this stuff, you just can’t Google.

To my inspiring tribe, I offer this:

Consider that if you can’t see your own strengths it’s because they’re so you that they’re invisible to you. You can’t see your own face either. That doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Consider that it’s a milestone to be celebrated when a teacher or guru says or produces something that you disagree with. You’re growing beyond them into your own person. Pretty soon you’ll have to name what you do.

Consider that when you’re doing things you’ve never done before you’ll feel uncertain. Don’t confuse this with failure. You’re a creator. You’re doing things you’ve never done before probably most of the time. If your default is to feel less-than when in new territory, you’re probably suffering needlessly.

Consider that you might be feeling unequal to your challenges because you’re tired and overworked. When in doubt, floss and lie down. I haven’t done the research, but I know how powerful it is to not do those things, so I’m figuring the same is true in reverse. This is an entrepreneurial thought. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll toss it tomorrow without looking back. But I have to follow my gut on this one. If you’re like me, you’ll understand.

Consider that when you fail to meet a self-imposed deadline and you’re beating yourself up about it, you’ve slowly and imperceptibly made the transition from having someone else decide your priorities to making your own. Congratulations! You’ve energetically completed your graduation from grammar school and employment. Having failed to meet that deadline means you either set your sites too high or didn’t say no to enough other things to reach your target. Which means you have more self-management skills to learn. But that’s okay. You know how to learn. You do it all the time.

Consider that when you follow hunches and to-do’s that nag at you and they don’t pan out, you might have needed to pass through them, a lot of them,  to get to something brilliant.

Consider that many business milestones may feel at first like failures. What they really mean is that you’re honing that invaluable, irreplaceable asset, your gut instincts:

  • Turning away a client because you know they’re not right for your business, and your business isn’t right for them.
  • Re-doing your entire website because you realize something key is missing or needs to be removed, or because you’ve had an a-ha about what it is you really do.
  • Refusing to barter, because you don’t want what the other party is offering, even though they might be a good connection to paying business.
  • Agreeing to barter with a customer who could really benefit from what you do, whom you really want to work with, and although you keep checking in with yourself expecting to feel as if you’ve sold yourself short, you continue to feel really good about it.

Consider, just consider, that you do have something to say. That doesn’t mean new ideas that have never been thought or expressed. It means telling what the world looks like to you and why it delights, fascinates and horrifies you. Some of these points of view will stay with you forever, and some will disappear one day and never be thought of again. It’s okay to express them anyway. You never know when your expression will help someone else to wake up to their own life.

Consider one last thing: That ugly word, “marketing” means that the only difference between you and your potential clients is that you know what you do better than they do. When you see a need out there in one of your communities, figure out a way to let them know about what you do and how you can help.  Does that feel doable?

This way of life is not for the faint of heart. It’s a life of constant learning, myth-busting, skills development and relationship whispering. Somewhere between all that are rays of light, wings and halos. Yep, you guessed it, that part comes when you’re sleeping.

_________________________

Okay, that’s it for me this week. Let me know in the comments what I missed, what you’re wrestling with, and what’s helping.

Interested in joining my next guided mastermind group? It starts in October, 2016. Click here for more details, or feel free to contact me with any questions. This is a local group that meets monthly in Sidney, Maine, USA.

Till next time,

PhyllisSig

by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport

All content is the sole property of Phyllis Capanna. If you are reading this content on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA.  © 2016 Phyllis Capanna

How To Develop a Daily Writing Practice

Hi, it’s Phyllis with the next video in the series on How to Develop a Daily Writing Practice. The third in the series is 5 Priceless Benefits of Daily writing. This is aimed at my mastermind group, but if you’re not in it, enjoy!

So, a daily writing practice is pretty simple: You just have to do it everyday! The first video was about 5 Essentials for Getting Started, and this video is about how to make it a daily thing.

My big secret to success for pretty much any new habit, is to start it first thing in the morning. That way, nothing else gets in the way. What I do is, I make a big, strong cup of coffee, and I go back upstairs, to this room and I sit in this chair, and I write. I write three pages, and that’s what works for me. Sometimes I write more than three pages if I’m really on a roll when I get to the bottom of the third page, but the minimum is three pages.

When I worked full time, I trained myself to get up a half an hour early, so that I’d have time to do this, because I really wanted to incorporate this into my day. Also, starting first thing in the morning is a great of telling yourself that you’re prioritizing this time for you, prioritizing yourself, prioritizing your time with yourself that will help ground you and help ground your project idea. And I cover that in the next video, “Why to develop a daily writing practice (5 benefits to developing a daily writing practice.)

If you miss in the morning, if you just don’t have time, if you have one of those mornings, you can write after work or write at night time, or – here’s an alternative – bring a notebook and a pen with you, and find five minute chunks throughout the day. so you might be able to grab 5 minutes in the morning while you’re waiting for your coffee or your toast, but that might not be a possibility. But consider doing that instead of checking your email, if it isn’t absolutely necessary to do so. Or grab some time at lunch time: Go to your car, the rest room, a park. Find five minutes and use your phone as a timer, and sit down and write.

And then write again in the evening. You might only get 10 or 15 minutes in this way, but definitely write before you go to bed. Try to go for 15 minutes or a half an hour, whatever it is that you’re shooting for, but try to do it before bed. Here’s why: You’re going to end up downloading and dumping your whole day onto the page, and that’s great, because when you get up tomorrow morning, you’re not going to have that backlog. You will have gone through that once. It will come out again, if it’s still rolling around in your head, but at least you get a chance to start fresh in the morning.

Just keep trying to write first thing in the morning. Do as much as you can without throwing your life into turmoil, and then do a little more at another time during the day, lunchtime or before bed. Actually, this is a slightly different topic, but I have found that writing before bed is a great way to get a good night’s sleep. What I do with that is, I ask myself, “What’s likely to worry me? What’s likely to keep me up? Or what’s likely to wake me up with worry or anxiety?” and I write that down. And that’s a great way of handling overdrive mind and worrisome situations that could keep you awake.

Here are some other tips and pointers: It’s very important to not worry about what you’re writing. I wrote for years and years and years, I’m not exaggerating, decades without worrying about what I was writing. It was simply the act of taking that time for myself and dumping that stuff on the page. It was the best way that I could demonstrate my commitment to taking this time for myself and to discovering who I was. And it just so happened that who I was was a writer. But the same would be true if you were a scientist, an  illustrator, a mother, a chef, whatever you are. This is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to that, and to find out what that is. But do not worry about what you’re writing. It’s not about producing finished product.

Some common experiences to have – These are – Many things can happen, including dumping your entire cup of coffee on the floor, which happens to me periodically, and that’s because I’m sound asleep. And what I do is, I go back and make another strong cup of coffee, because I really, really love that first cup of coffee! Every one after that just doesn’t measure up, so I don’t bother with it, but that first cup – I never have gotten tired of it, so I just keep doing it.  And it’s really the same with the writing in the morning. I actually never get tired of it, it’s not a chore, it’s not something – People say, oh you’re so disciplined – I actually enjoy it. I really love doing it. At first it was really rough and ragged to get up a half hour early to allow that time, but it actually showed me that there’s lots of time outside of the work day to do what you want to do, if you prioritize it.

The trick is prioritizing it. One of things that can happen is that suddenly everything in the world becomes more interesting than writing. Suddenly it seems absolutely essential that you…fill in the blank: polish the silver, mow the lawn, get in touch with your long lost cousin who happens to be turning 60 today. There’s almost nothing like making a commitment for having everything else suddenly come crowding in. Use that as an opportunity to look at that commitment. And make the commitment.

Every commitment comes with the upside, which is the benefit of the commitment, and that’s what we talk about. The downside is what you are choosing to let go, at least for that moment. You’re actually choosing to let the email go, to not catch up on Facebook, to let the dishes sit in the sink, to call your cousin later and risk actually forgetting. You’re going to miss out on something, or you’re going to feel like you’re missing out on something, and you’re actually choosing to do this anyway.

So just be realistic that when you’re choosing something, you’re not choosing something else. And just acknowledge that, and see what that is. And I would say, if you’re really interested in making a commitment, the best way to strengthen that resolve and to strengthen your will, is to exercise it, to do it anyway. And do what you think is possible, not what you think will be impossible. So if you think five minutes will be difficult but possible, do five minutes. If you think 15 minutes is your thing, is the best you can go for, go for that. You might have to work up to it. You will have to work up to it. Just give yourself the gift to know from experience whether this is the right commitment for you to make, whether you really want this daily writing practice by doing it, rather than deciding in advance that it’s not the right thing. Because if you do that, you may decide it’s not the right thing for you, but you’ll be sure. You’ll have certainty. You won’t be wondering, am I just avoiding that? Was I just afraid of what I might find? Just face it, and do it. And then if you don’t like it, you can stop doing it.

Another likely thing to happen is that big, strong feelings will come up. And this is a lot of times why people don’t want to write. They’re afraid that big, strong feelings are going to come up, and they are. And the thing to do is to write them down, to write right through them and not let them throw you off. Yes, you can grab a tissue, but just keep crying and keep writing. You only need one hand to write with. You don’t need any hands to cry with. Just allow yourself to have your feelings and write them down honestly, and then you can look at them. And this again is what I’ll cover in the next video about why you should write regularly, but I’ll just tell you now, and I’m sure you can imagine, that when you write it down you get a chance to look at it, and it starts to change. It goes out of here and it down onto the paper, and it starts to change for you. And you have some agency over what happens with those feelings and that situation.

Don’t forget that the word emotion has the word “motion” in it. They’re meant to move, and a lot times I just write right through feelings, and then they’re gone. Then I’m free from them. And when I read it back later, I get that I was upset, but the emotion has lost its charge.

So just write anyway. There are no wrong feelings. There are no wrong words. This is about allowing yourself to be.

Another common thing to have happen is out-of-no-where brainstorms and inspirations. And the thing to do, of course, is to write them down. And what I do is, I write stuff like that down, and I underline it, and I put a little star in the margin, so I can find it later.  And then at some point during the day or the following day, I go back and I look for those stars and underlines, and I see if there’s an action that I need to take. But just write those things down. Write them all down.

Some of my blog posts come right out in my morning writing. The whole thing is right there. Ideas for the name of a book, the idea for a project, the idea for this mastermind group, it all came through my writing. This is my avenue. I’ve created a field, an energetic field. By sitting down every day and doing it, I’ve created a pathway. I’ve created a pathway for communicating with my self, with my higher power, with whatever it is that’s directing all of this, and so: Write it down. It’s a gift.

Another likely thing to happen is big, dry, empty, silent spaces where it seems like you have nothing to say. And the thing to do there is to write that down, and describe what it feels like to be in that place: “It feels like I have nothing to say.” And how does it feel to feel that way? How does it feel to have nothing to say? “It reminds me of the time I….” “I wish I felt….” Just keep writing. Write through that experience. Repeat: “I have nothing to say. I’m empty. I’m tired. I’m blank, I’m blank, I just want to go back to sleep.” Just let yourself keep expressing from that place, wherever you are.

It’s very important – and this is another pointer for succeeding at this – It’s very important to be a safe person to write for. It’s inevitable that your judging mind is going to come in and say, “Whoa, girl, that’s off limits!’ Or, “You sure you want to write that down?” Or, “Whoa, you really feel that way? That’s kind of – something – isn’t it?” Some judgment about it. Guilt. I really shouldn’t feel that way. Well, guess what. Write that down. Write it down: “I’m a jerk for feeling this way.” “Part of me feels like I should just give up.” “Part of me feels like the biggest imposter on Earth.” “I am such an asshole.” Just write it down. Write it down and write right through it. Don’t let it throw you off. It’s just thoughts. It’s not the truth. There’s many truths. It’s not the only truth. Just write it down.

Something else about strong feelings: Here’s a link to a prior blog post I did on this subject. I’d like to read something from that post here:

“When I started free writing, I thought I would never come to the end of self deprecation.” (That is true. I went on and on and on with self deprecation.) “I had tapped a lifetime of pent up feelings that had never been acknowledged or named. I had never had the means to know them. I had to allow them to come out. It was like pulling a shard of glass out of my finger. And then, it was over. I was conversational with myself. I started to discover a voice in there, a sensibility, preferences, a world view, a particular and unique person, neither perfect now defective, but human. I discovered my humanity by writing down everything that was inside me. Those reams of negativity, while I wouldn’t go back and read them today, are precious to me. They represent the painful birthing of a person. They record the process of becoming real to myself.”

Another common thing to happen is, expect your life to change. In the process of becoming real to yourself, of listening to yourself, of expressing yourself, you will realize that you need to do some things. You may need to change some things. You may simple carry yourself differently. You may respond to situations differently out of this newfound connection with the real you. So, you don’t have to tell other people that you can’t stand X, Y and Z, but now you know it, and it’s not a secret from you anymore, so the next time X, Y and Z comes up, you know what to do. You know how to distance yourself, you know that it’s not good for you, and you steer clear.

If you feel you’re in a rut, and this can happen after years or weeks or months or whatever it is for you, of writing, give yourself a new challenge. Learn how to write poetry. Explore a particular topic that is a little bit edgy for you, like addiction or sexuality, or death, or relationships, love, intimacy, something that’s a little bit harder to deal with. Give yourself a writing challenge. Write autobiographically, make up characters, write fiction. Read more widely and imitate what you’re reading.  Put yourself in an uncomfortable place with your writing, now that you have navigated that first uncomfortable hurdle of developing a daily writing practice, of sitting down and facing yourself every day and facing your life and facing your reality every day, you might be more comfortable with that process. So now you can put yourself in a little bit more uncomfortable place with your writing.

Right now I’m taking a writing class for the first time since college. I don’t like it at all. Honestly, I don’t like being a class, I don’t like having assignments. And it’s putting me face to face with some insecurities that it’s high time I dealt with. And I’m challenging myself to write fiction as part of my daily routine, which is really uncomfortable. And it puts me right back in that beginner place, which is uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to be a beginner. It really is, so start by acknowledging that. And happy discovering to you!

I hope this helps. And I hope that if you have any questions, maybe you’ve tried daily writing before and it hasn’t worked out for you. I hope that you’ll put that in the comments. Ask your questions in the comments. Answer me this: What would it take for you to be twice as satisfied as you are right now with your writing? What would it take? What have you encountered? What are your obstacles? We can have an ongoing discussion about this. I’d love to know what’s on your mind about this, and if you decide to do a daily writing practice, let me know how it’s going. What are you hoping for, what are you getting out of it?

Okay, that’s this video. Stayed tuned for the next one, 5 Priceless Benefits of a Daily Writing Practice. Okay, get writing : Get your fast pen, your notebook, get your timer, find your place, make your commitment and start today!

Creativity Divinely Directed