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. Read more

5 Priceless Benefits of Writing Daily (Even If You're Not a Writer)

Hi everybody, it’s Phyllis here with part three in the video series about developing a daily writing practice. In the first video, I talked about the 5 essentials for getting started with writing, and in the second, I talked about how to make it a daily thing. In this video I’m going to talk about why. Why you should have a daily writing practice, how it will help you, even if you’re not a writer. A daily writing practice is a terrific tool, used by a many successful people all over the world.

One of the things about a daily writing practice is it forces you to prioritize you, your work, your dreams and your goals. Starting first thing in the morning with a half an hour or an hour, whatever you can do, of writing, re-prioritizes and organizes everything else in your life, and it makes sure that you actually get the time in for this project. And that’s the point of prioritizing: you get the time in that you need to spend, and you put this ahead of other things that might feel more urgent or that are just habitual. And when you prioritize what matters in your life, everything else just kind of takes care of itself. And if it doesn’t take care of itself, then maybe it just falls away. And that is what prioritizing is. Read more

Do You Need a New Definition of Success? (If not forever, then for a while?)

Call us flitters, hummingbirds, butterflies, recovering failures, neurotics, highly sensitive, multiply talented under-achievers, people with low self esteem, poor self confidence, people who are not measuring up, people who feel they should be doing something else – Call us what you will, that long, straight, steep path to success is not ours.

Not only is our path circuitous, spirally and meandering, but our successes are different, too. Read more

Dowsing With My Butt (On Writing a Novel by the Seat of My Pants)

(2 minute read)

My mind is quietly being blown. I am about 11,500 words into the novel I am writing for National Novel Writing Month. I kind of fooled myself into doing this. I waited until the last minute, didn’t tell anyone, and didn’t think about the commitment I was making, pulling a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” on myself. I make decisions like that sometimes when I’m driving and can’t decide whether to make that stop or take that road. When I get to the intersection I just let the vehicle make the turn, or not. That’s how I did WriMo. Call it dowsing with your butt. If you find yourself sitting and writing, well, I guess you’re doing WriMo. Read more

Where Your Creative Life Begins

Thanks to every one of my faithful readers who responded to my recent survey. I learned that many struggle with finding time to create and trusting themselves enough to actually do it. I also learned that nobody likes the word struggle. Into my third week of not writing anything but my weekly blog post and my morning pages, I was asked by my partner, “Are you on strike from writing?”

Well, hmmm. Striking is a way of saying I won’t go back on the job until my working conditions improve. Which is funny, considering I am the boss. Okay, so what exactly is going on? Easy. Fear. Fear of having a gaping silent blackness where ideas should be. Also fear of tapping into a live vein of creative gold and having to make good on my commitment to see it through to completion. Read more

The Writer's Notebook: When the Problem Isn't the Problem

Well, some weeks you have it and some you don’t. The week before last, I hit the ground running after my writing class and wrote every day on a new project I’ve started. On the 7th day I kept my butt in the chair for the full hour. (It still counts even if the last 5 minutes are spent writing something like this: “Oh fuck oh fuck I can’t believe there’s a whole 5 minutes left of this torture!”)

Then last Tuesday in class, I decided to read an essay from this blog, instead of the piece I’d been working on. On Wednesday and Thursday, I let other things be more important than writing. After all, I’d done so much the week before. On Friday I decided I felt like typing up the last week’s writing. I’d taken enough of a break. Except, I couldn’t find the notebook that I had written everything in. Read more

Walking Your Talk as a Personal Growth Writer

Tell you right now, I did not follow my own advice from last week’s blog post. I did not make a date to re-fill the well. Instead, I struggled with what I think can be called depression: nasty thoughts, feeling unequal to life, and generally being off center. I don’t think it’s a shocker that someone might end up writing about the very stuff they struggle with. I have an enormous toolbox of therapeutic activities that I share with others, because I’ve used them on myself. But I don’t often admit to actively struggling now, today, because, well, for much the same reasons others don’t.

But I am taking up the topic of re-filling the well again this week, because mine is so very dry right now, and I have so far failed at setting aside time and space for my soul. Where I get stuck is the Very Important Task. The problem is they’re all important. Read more

Doing It Wrong

It was during a week as a temp at Harvard University that I first encountered Julia’s Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I was subbing for an assistant to two professors. One was on sabbatical, and one was on vacation. (It was a plum placement.) I proceeded to gobble up The Artist’s Way. That was in 1991, and that’s when I started doing the Morning Pages. Except for a few weeks somewhere around 2013 or so, I’ve done them every morning since. Read more