Vulnerability has become a buzzword. It’s been made popular by people like Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Doyle Melton. Some have called this interest in vulnerability the Vulnerability Revolution.
So what does this have to do with being a pro writer? Everything.
Vulnerability is the writer’s super power in two ways and always has been. Paul Gallico, author of Confessions of a Story Writer published in 1948, expressed it well in these lines:
“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don’t feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you’re wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories.”
To be a pro is to open up to all your feelings and be willing to put them on the page. The pro can’t afford to hide or shrink their essence. Look at the writers I mentioned above. Brené, Elizabeth, Glennon all offered up their personal stories in order to connect with us and show a way through. The connection they forged created their career.
Being vulnerable allows writers to create powerful work. It also allows writers to share it.
To share your stories and wisdom is to stand naked before your readers. You just poured yourself onto the page, warts and all. Not everyone will appreciate what you created. And it won’t be perfect. But there will be some whose lives you change. That can’t happen if you hide.
Pros may be afraid to release their writing to the world, but they move through the fear and do it anyway. To share yourself is an act of vulnerability. It just is. To become a pro means you accept this. Eventually you will look forward to it even as your heart beats too fast and your palms sweat. Pros choose to call it excitement, not fear.
So, take a deep breath and dive in. The world needs your stories. It needs more people to open up and connect. Make vulnerability your super power and fly.
If you’d like a safe place to practice being vulnerable, join me in The Writers Sangha, a free Facebook group. In it you can gain the coaching and accountability you need to get the writing done.
It’s not really much of a secret. You’ve probably heard it before. Today I ran into someone who didn’t know why her memoir read like a timeline without emotion. I told her it was because she wasn’t feeling the emotion as she wrote.
And that’s the secret. As writers we need to feel the emotion as we’re writing or the reader won’t feel it.
This is true across many art forms. We see it most clearly with acting. An actor that hasn’t entered the emotion they are trying to convey puts on a weak performance. A piece of art that is created from a strictly intellectual space may be interesting, but won’t make us feel. And it is feeling that attracts us and makes us want to continue experiencing the piece.
Emotions are powerful energy that move us and bring color to our lives. This pulse of energy within drives the work we do in the world. It enlivens us and therefore the work so the work can in turn enliven others.
Embrace what you feel. Conjure the emotion you need for a character in your novel or relive the time your heart was broken for a personal essay. Draw on the powerful energy of emotion to move your work and hence the reader. Art is about connection. We only connect when we are authentically ourselves. Good writers use both their writing ability and their emotions to craft a moving experience for the reader. Art lives in the space where the two meet.
Are you stuck? Do you need help discovering the next step needed to complete your writing project? Have a little procrastination problem? Join The Writers Sangha a free Facebook group where you can get the accountability and coaching you need to get the writing done.
I think of Nature as my guru. I even have a blog by that name. When I was young I would spend hours by myself in the woods. When driving in the van with my parents, I would watch the moon as it followed us. The Earth and sky felt like home.
Today I still feel this connection though I don’t spend as much time outdoors. Nature’s energy flows through me and guides me. I honor the ebb in flow in it and in myself.
Wax and Wane, Ebb and Flow
You probably notice times when your energy waxes and wanes like the moon and the seasons. There are times you may not feel like writing. It could be for any number of reasons, not enough sleep, overwhelmed by life, etc. No matter what’s going on in our lives, we can tap into the energy of nature to help us get the writing done.
Please note we also need to honor our energy and rest as needed. The point is to discern whether you truly need to rest or are avoiding the work.
Take Advantage of the Rise in Energy to Write
This month’s full moon peaks today at 2:35 p.m. PDT. Today and on into tomorrow is a good time to schedule some writing time. Take advantage of the increased energy to use your mind in a focused way. Some say this energy can wreak havoc on the unfocused mind. As writers we often have something to focus on, and with the extra energy we can move our projects forward with greater ease.
Full Moon Guidance
We can also use full moon energy to guide us. I sometimes sit at my altar on a full moon and ask a question. I find this powerful energy helps what is in my subconscious to rise to consciousness. I give my mind a focus, the question I’m asking, and wait for the answer to rise like the moon.
What to write about, how to fix a plot, where to publish are all good questions to ask. See what comes up. If you don’t get an answer, wait a few days. It can sometimes take a while. And if your answer doesn’t come, there are people who can help you. All you need to do is ask.
Letting Go During the Full Moon
When the moon is full, it is at peak energy and is about to slide into waning energy. This makes the full moon a good time to let go of anything that no longer serves us.
What never serves a writer are the excuses/reasons we come up with to not do the writing. In a previous post entitled “The Only Obstacle is Our Mindset” I discuss how we are the reason we’re not writing. There is nothing outside us stopping us from getting the writing done. Take a moment to read it and then do the ritual below to help you let go of your excuses.
Excuses Be Gone Full Moon Ritual
Before you begin, have your current work in progress nearby and ready to work on. You’re going to begin writing immediately after this short ritual.
You will also need:
In the days following the ritual, you may still find excuses popping up. That’s normal. You’ve stirred your subconscious to bring your behavior into your awareness. Remember, we don’t change our habits overnight. The ritual is performed with strong conviction to plant the seeds of change. You can always perform it again. You may want to if you’ve come up with some new excuses. Just know that by doing the ritual you’ve set in motion your awareness of what you do when you avoid writing. This awareness will help you transform.
Celebration & Inspiration
We can use the energy of the full moon to help us get the writing done and let go of what no longer serves us. But the full moon is also a time to celebrate the fullness of life and the fruition of any intentions set at the new moon.
Late last night I noticed the glow of the moon in the backyard. I opened the blinds to let the moonlight in. I let this white light into me so I could connect with Her beauty. The moon can and has been muse to many. Allow the beauty of this celestial being to inspire you to write and enjoy success on your terms doing what you love. It’s time to bring your unique voice into the world.
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It’s no easy feat to start a coaching business while simultaneously writing to publish. Just one alone would keep you plenty busy. But I have this need to write and help others. So here I am, and most days I feel as though I haven’t done enough.
I could stop doing both and concentrate on one. But every time I do that, I find myself missing the other. I don’t feel complete doing only one.
The problem isn’t really about having too much to do; it’s that I never feel as though I’m doing enough.
Just becoming aware of the issue can help us solve it. The solution is right in front of us now. Sometimes we don’t see it because we’re too close. Talking or journaling about it brings enough distance so we can see clearly.
Solving the Problem
I know my issue is that I never feel as though I’m doing enough. This has come up in other areas so I can see it’s a pattern. Since I feel as though I’m not doing enough, I must have thoughts that cause me to feel this way. Let’s look at them.
One of those thoughts is: I’m not getting ahead so I must not be doing enough. I need to ask if that’s true. I find it’s not. It’s important to ask why the thought isn’t true. Mine isn’t because the reason I’m not getting ahead isn’t that I’m not doing enough. It’s that I’m not doing the right things.
Another thought is: I could never do enough because there is too much to do. When I look closely at the thought, I see it’s flawed. It’s only true if I think I have to finish things in one session. I can do something about the situation by choosing to think differently about it.
So now I know what thoughts are causing me to feel as though I’m not doing enough. I also discovered what was wrong with those thoughts. It’s time to replace them. But first a quick breakdown of this thought/feeling check process.
We replace the thoughts that are causing us to feel in ways we don’t want to feel with thoughts that help us feel better. First, I have to decide how I want to feel. When it comes to my work, I want to feel accomplished, as though I did something meaningful and it will move me forward. What thoughts will help me feel this way?
Before I come up with new thoughts, I need to figure out which tasks move me forward. Remember, I discovered I’m not always doing the most pertinent things. Once I know what will move me forward, I need to break those tasks into small chunks.
The new thoughts: Two or three vital tasks per day are enough. The work I did was important and more will be done tomorrow. Enough is enough because I say it is.
I know I will believe this more and more as I see the results that stem from the new feelings I triggered with my new thoughts.
Other Causes of the Not-Doing-Enough Feeling
Some other thoughts and beliefs that bring on feelings of not doing enough are:
The time thing is related to what I talked about above. We need to look at what we’re trying to accomplish. Energy is also related to this. The last one has us tied to an external. When we base what we do on outside standards, we begin to lose what works for us.
Sometimes the not-doing-enough feeling is tied to our self-worth. We don’t feel as though we are good enough and so everything we do will never be enough in all kinds of ways. It’s important to be kind to ourselves and begin to understand we are here and that means we are enough and all we do is enough. It can take time to heal this. Just know it can be healed. It begins within and with letting the work of the day be enough.
Focus your effort, decide what’s enough to move you forward and know what works for you doesn’t have to fit some outside standard. Experiment and see how many hours are needed to accomplish what you want to accomplish. If you can work three hours a day and make progress, great! Don’t let others tell you what you should do. Only you know what you need to do and if you’re doing it. That’s the key. Know what needs to be done in your particular situation and make sure you work on it a little every day. And remember, enough truly is enough.
If you’d like to experience this kind of coaching to help you get the writing done, I invite you to join The Writers Sangha, a free Facebook support group for writers like you who want success on your terms doing what you love.
You’ve opened that file on your computer dozens of times over the years. It’s filled with ideas and even possible chapters for a book that you’ve changed the name of more than a few times.
You have a message, but when you begin writing, it becomes muddled. You have a desire to express yourself and share you unique experience and wisdom, but you’re just not sure where to begin or even how to turn it into a book.
You’re not alone. A number of years ago one survey found that 81 percent of Americans felt they had a book in them. But most of them never wrote it. It may be they felt as you do. Daunted and confused. They may have even tried, as you have, which led to more confusion and doubt.
The thing is, writing a book is daunting. We begin with an idea and sometimes that idea isn’t big enough for a book. Sometimes it’s too big. To write a book is to dive into chaos. We have to swim around in the ideas and bits of writing for a while until the core idea emerges. Then we have to try it out.
Is it too big or too small?
It’s important to ask if the core idea is too small or too big. If it seems just right, you can build an outline around it.
An example of too big is writing your whole life story. A better idea is to choose just one aspect of your life or a particular event. Or let’s say you want to write a book about writing a book. That’s too big. Pick a genre so you can get focused. It will be easier to write.
Too small is something that can be explained or shared in 5,000 words or less. If you’re not sure, break down your idea and see if you can explain some of the sections in just a few paragraphs. You may have a great idea for an article, essay or a short series of them instead of a book.
It’s time to create your outline.
An outline will help you get clearer and allow you to see where you need to flush out the idea more or cut back. During this process, as you get clear on the message or what you want to teach, you’ll discover what you need to research so you can find support for your idea. Or if it’s more personal, you can gather the stories you want to use as examples.
With an outline in hand, you can begin writing one section at a time. This is not the time to worry about how each chapter will flow together. That’s a later part of the process. Just get the sections written. Each part of the process brings more clarity. Sometimes you’ll find you have to back track. If you do, take a breath and take your time. It’s a process.
What resistance can look like.
Be aware that if you keep changing your mind about the message, the form, the order, etc., you’re probably experiencing resistance, which in normal. Choose something and stick with it. Some adjustments are a part of the process, but wholesale, constant changes are most likely resistance.
Resistance also shows up as procrastination and simply talking about it rather than working on it. Check your fears. They don’t have to stop you. If perfectionism is an issue (it is with me), you will have to do some work to convince yourself that nothing is perfect about the book writing process. Of course, that’s true about life in general. You need to allow yourself to be messy. Order will arise out of the chaos. I promise. But first, you have to live in the muddle of it.
To finish is to build confidence, knowledge and skills.
The important thing is to finish. It will make all the difference in how you feel about yourself. You will gain confidence in your abilities. The sense of completion will give you the motivation you need to keep going. There is still much work to be done, but you’ll have an early version of your book. It will probably look different when you’ve taken it through all its drafts. But if you don’t finish, you won’t be able to take the next step and you won’t have had the experience which will make you a better writer.
This topic is really too big for a blog post, but at least you can get started. All it takes is the willingness to take one step at a time consistently and to persist until it is done.
If you’d like more help, contact me to set up a time for a consultation. To learn more about what I do, check out my Coaching for Writers page.
It’s time to make a commitment and finish that book. You deserve it! The world is waiting for you.