Independence Day Fireworks

Seeing it through to the end

On the Welcome Call for our Writer’s Circle session that started yesterday, it was fun to notice how many members were talking about finishing. So many of us were at that point of having just finished a major draft or putting the finishing touches on one.

After having run the Circle now for going on two years, it’s deeply gratifying to see so many writers reaching that milestone.

It got me to thinking about the ingredients that go into the mix to make that happen.

It strikes me that there are both internal and external aspects to these success stories. What I see on the internal side is:

  • Vision — having an idea or a calling to see something come to fruition.
  • Passion — having a love or interest or fierce desire for a specific project or idea.
  • Decision — making the decision to tackle the project.
  • Courage — having the courage to dive in to the unknown.
  • Perseverance — having the wherewithal to stick with something.
  • Intuition — knowing when something is right for you, or not.

Hopefully we have all these skills. If we don’t, we can strengthen them within ourselves. (And there are good coaches and therapists who can help us do just that.)

So yes, completing any project requires a tremendous amount of drive, determination, and courage. But even the strongest of strong-hearted among us get tripped up by a laundry list of obstacles, like:

  • Doubt — what if I can’t do it?
  • Fears  — of success, failure, rejection, disapproval, shame
  • Resistance — the force that repels us from our dreams
  • Procrastination — our tendency to put off anything that moves us toward completion of our dreams
  • Perfectionism — the belief that perfection is attainable and that if we’re not hitting it, we’re failing.
  • Bad habits — putting vices before taking action on our dreams.
  • Poor self- management — struggles with discipline, decision-making, commitment, time choices.
  • Poor self-care — not taking care of our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.
  • Comparison with others — thinking other people are doing better than we are.
  • Obsessing about our chances of success — focusing on the big questions rather than doing our work.
  • Approval-seeking — looking outside ourselves for validation of our talent or ability.
  • Life challenges — stopping when life gets hard.

Many of these things can be solved with self-awareness and determination, and yet what I see time and again is that we can draw on resources outside ourselves to help us make it through the rough patches. Things like:

  • Support — there’s nothing quite like having other people believe in you, especially when you’ve temporarily forgotten your own skill and ability.
  • Daily accountability — having support to see it through, to keep showing up and do the daily work is deeply motivating.
  • Community — being a part of a community where you are with other people who truly “get” what you’re experiencing helps end the sense of isolation we can all experience at times.
  • Energy — the shared energy of working together, whether side by side or as a team, can move us into action when we’re otherwise flagging.
  • Inspiration — a shared spirit of energy and enthusiasm can reignite us when the going gets tough.

The question that strikes me is this: Do you have the support you need to weather the challenges of creating your dreams? If not, how can you create that for yourself? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Warmly,

 Jenna

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boy looking through binoculars

Why we don’t do the work

Last week I wrote a post called, “Stop buying stuff and do the work.” It resonated for more than a few people — and I had promised to write more about WHY we don’t do the work.

So why don’t we do the work?

First, an example.

For years (literally) I said I wanted to write, but I managed instead to fill my plate with training after training after training, and volunteer job after volunteer job. I studied with Coach For Life and Sonia Choquette, pursuing certifications with them. I started and ran organizations like the Sensitive Professionals Network, Six Sensory San Francisco, and a Coach For Life graduates forum, not to mention working as a youth leader with a youth group.

I read (and bought) countless books on coaching, intuitive development, angels, high sensitivity and so much more. Some of them I hardly even opened.

Then I spent more time, energy, and money on learning business skills and developing my message with several high business coaches, and completing hand analysis training.

And while I don’t regret what I was doing — after all, I have tremendously deepened my self-knowledge, grown as a person, learned a ton, and met wonderful people along the way, I was keeping myself so busy that I wasn’t pursuing my true dream of writing.

Throughout that time (and for years before it), I had a nagging feeling that I was “waiting for my life to start” and yet I wasn’t taking action to change anything. Instead I was filling my time doing all those other wonderful things.

And they were wonderful — but in hindsight, it was still resistance.

What’s that about?

It’s all too easy to think we are too busy, that we don’t have enough time. Or that we just need to get better organized. Or just get this one more thing done first.

And the thing is, we feel good that we are contributing great things to the world and our community and that we are learning so much.

And we are. We do.

ALL of these things are true.

We are not bad people after all, we have good intentions and we are interested in so many things.

But why does the one true dream always fall to the bottom of the pile? Why do we make choices that keep us from our dreams?

This is not a new answer

In my case — and I suspect it is true for many people if not most — it’s fear.

This is why we buy stuff we don’t need, keep ourselves too busy to think or connect inward to our deeper selves, procrastinate, spin in circles, get apathetic, and all those other things that add up to resistance.

Because it is scary.

Pursuing your truest, deepest dream is the most frightening thing imaginable — you might not even consciously recognize that you are afraid.

It’s your own hero’s journey

Pursuing your true dream — your art, writing, business, or passion — requires massive amounts of courage. It’s your own personal hero’s journey. Every single day you have to be willing to face down your personal demons, fight the resistance, and forge ahead.

It’s no wonder we want to avoid it, right? And we are so clever that we don’t even know that’s what we’re doing.

Time to clear the decks and answer the call to adventure. It’s waiting for you.

Your turn

I love to hear what you think. Post your note on my blog. Can’t wait to hear from you.

And if your dream is writing — registration closes tomorrow for the next session of my Writer’s Circle. Join us.

Warmly,

Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> August 2nd. Register by August 2 for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle (starts August 6th). For serious writers and for writers who want to get serious about their writing. http://JustDoTheWriting.com

~> September 6th. Last day to register for the next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group happening on October 4th. These groups always sell out (only 4 spots) so if you want to discover your life purpose through the remarkably accurate tool of hand analysis, sign up here now: http://LifePurposeBreakthrough.com

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth and participating in ScreenwritingU’s Pro Rewrite class after finishing the ProSeries.* (They’re offering their free rewrite* class this month on August 4, which is great — though make sure you have plenty of water — it’s a looooong class.)

~> September 18 to 22nd. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU* event to meet with producers and agents then staying on for the InkTip Pitch Summit. (This is getting way too close!)

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Finished Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix! We’ve started reading the next one: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. I loved (500) Days of Summer, and finally saw The Day the Earth Stood Still (liked it) and Crazy, Stupid, Love (fabulous).

 

* Affiliate link
writing2

Why do we write?

We write because we have stories to tell.

We write to entertain.

To explore.

To connect.

To teach.

We write because if we don’t, we can’t sleep.

We write to be paid.

We write for the joy of it.

We write because we said we would.

We write to document, explain, journal, create.

We write because we love it.

We write to expunge the terrible questions that captivate us.

To travel the neural pathways and find out where they go.

To see what happens.

Joss Whedon has said, “You either have to be writing or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all.”

Why do you write?

Tell us in the comments.

 If you’re serious about writing, but find yourself blocked or procrastinating, join my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle to learn the skills you need to create a solid pattern of consistent writing and to get the support and accountability you need to show up every day.

Find out more and register here: http://JustDoTheWriting.com. Next session starts March 19th.

People's mandala - 12 hands

How to make writing a whole lot easier

To celebrate the start of the next session of my Writer’s Circle this coming Monday, I’m sharing a free series on “How to Find the Courage to Tell the Stories You Are Longing To Tell.”

Today’s fourth and final post completes the series with thoughts on “How to Make Writing A Whole Lot Easier.”

  • To read the first post in the series, “Why It Requires Courage to Write”, click here.
  • The second post, How to Spot the Stealthy Smokescreens that Stop You From Writing, is here.
  • Yesterday’s post, “How to Find Your True Stories”, is here.

How to make writing a whole lot easier

It can sound like the easiest thing in the world to write. But when it comes to sitting down and facing the blank page, writing can be downright terrifying. Perhaps surprisingly to some, it takes a lot of courage to overcome all the fear, self-doubt, stories, and resistance to making it happen.


What I’ve seen is that when you take action to do the following things for yourself, writing becomes much much harder NOT to do. And that makes it SO much easier.

  1. Find peer support.

    Connect with other writers. Be part of a community. Live and breathe writing and talk about it with other people who are actively engaged in writing and are firmly committed to their writing, come hell or high water.

    Personally, I’m part of several writing communities, including my online Writer’s Circle, my screenwriting class, and the online Scriptchat community. I make it a priority to hang out with writers who are writing regularly — and not just talking about it.

  2. Create social accountability.

    Give yourself public deadlines and set public goals to use the tool of social accountability. When other people know you are promising and intending to do finish your writing project by a certain date and you know they are watching, it’s a LOT harder not to do it.

  3. Create solid writing habits.

    Make yourself a writing schedule, use a timer to write in sprints, start early in the morning or write late at night — what matters is that you write and that you write regularly. And by the way, regularly means as close to daily as you can muster (my preference is 6 to 7 days per week).

    Writing regularly, and sticking to it, surprisingly makes writing much, much easier. Back in the days when I used to write my newsletter on a monthly basis, it felt like scraping my fingernails over a dry chalkboard just to get myself going. But now that I’m blogging on a weekly basis and screenwriting on a daily basis, I find that I’m always running article ideas and story lines through my mind, which makes it oh-so-much easier to jump into when the writing clock chimes at 6 a.m. (actually it’s 5:45 a.m. these days, but who’s counting?).

  4. Have a willing spirit of adventure.

    Enjoy the ride — have a willing spirit of adventure. Writing is an up and down journey. I LOVE it, AND, there are days when I feel like being run over by a truck might be a little bit easier. Thank goodness I have my writing communities to cheer me up on those days. Ride the highs and surf the lows, knowing you’ll make it to the other side.

  5. Be deeply honest with yourself.

    You want to write, right? Be honest with yourself about that and what it will cost you if you don’t write. Also be honest with yourself about how scared you are to do it and about how you are creating obstacles to your writing. Only then can you face and overcome them.

  6. Make a commitment to write.

    Decide, right now, that you are going to write, no matter what. Then do it.

    Make a “Life Decision” about this, as Dr. Phil calls it, to follow your dream of writing. Once you’ve made that decision, there’s no turning back. Stop dipping your foot in the pond of your dream and start making it a reality. There’s no way to do it but one step at a time, even if it’s two steps forward and one step back for a while.

  7. Have the courage to write regularly.

    Having the courage to write means doing it without fail, even in the face of fear, self-doubt, and those savage attacks by your inner critic telling you that you won’t succeed.

    One day when I came home from dropping off my son at school, I realized that I was terrified to work on the next scene in my script, and I felt like I was frogmarching myself to the guillotine as I approached my computer. I said to myself, “I see you, fear, and you cannot stop me. I can at least write out the scene heading. I can at least chose the characters for the scene. I can at least brainstorm what I’d like to see happen.”

And with a little coaxing and a lot of courage, I was off and writing.

This concludes our series on How to Find the Courage to Tell the Stories You Are Longing To Tell.” If you enjoyed the series, I’d love to hear from you in the comments on my blog. Thanks for reading!

About the Writer’s Circle

I inspire writers to find the courage to share the stories they are secretly longing to tell but are afraid won’t be heard or welcomed. If you’d like company on your writer’s journey, I want to invite you to join the next session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle, which starts this coming Monday, February 20th. In the Writer’s Circle, you’ll find all the peer support and accountability you need to have the courage to write regularly.

Registration closes TODAY, February 16th.

Find out more and register here: http://JustDoTheWriting.com.

“I’m now working on a manuscript that has haunted me for 5 years…and there’s nary a chain rattle anymore.”

“This Writer’s Circle is such a wonderful experience, and it’s changed the way I look at writing…in a GOOD way! I’m now working on a manuscript that has haunted me for 5 years…and there’s nary a chain rattle anymore. I’m finally putting myself and my writing on the priority list. I’m also excited and inspired by the sense of community with other writers that was wholly lacking from the rest of my life. If you’re looking for help with your writing, join the Writer’s Circle now!”

~ Terri Fedonczak, Certified Martha Beck Life Coach, www.alifeinbalance.com

fear

Why it requires courage to write

To celebrate the start of the next session of my Writer’s Circle this coming Monday, February 20th, I’m sharing a free series on “How to Find the Courage to Share the Stories You Are Longing To Tell.”

Today’s post starts the series with thoughts on “Why It Requires Courage to Write.”

Why it requires courage to write

Special thanks to John Klymshyn for this image

I’ve dreamed of writing for years, since I was a child. And I have. Over the last 9 years I’ve written hundreds of articles, blog posts, and newsletters through my coaching business. Before that, I wrote city plans. Before that, my graduate thesis.

But I’ve always dreamed of writing a proper something — a larger writing project with a definitive end, like a book or a screenplay.

Somehow, I never seemed to find the time to write until recently — just in the last year or so. And now I’m writing on a daily basis, soon to finish my first feature length screenplay.

What I didn’t understand, until now, was that my lack of writing WAS NOT tied to all the things I believed about what it would take for me to write, like that I needed more time, better ideas, sudden divine inspiration, the proper writing space, a better computer, or any of the other things I was telling myself.

Instead, I discovered that what was going on at a deeper level was that I was afraid. I was afraid to write.

And this is what I’ve seen with many people who say they want to write but aren’t doing it.

Just like me, they are afraid.

Common fears

If you have fear coming up around writing, you might be experiencing some of these common concerns I hear from writers:

  • You’re afraid the writing you’re longing to share isn’t serious, artistic, engaging, funny, clever, dramatic, or fill-in-the-blank enough.
  • You’re afraid that you’ll embarrass yourself if you put your words out there for other people to see.
  • You’re afraid that you won’t be able to do a good enough job telling your stories — you won’t be able to do them justice and you’ll let your ideas down.
  • You’re afraid you won’t be able to come with good ideas.
  • You’re afraid that other people will be hurt if you write things they don’t like. You’re afraid they will see themselves in your stories and be offended.
  • You’re afraid you don’t know how to write well enough, but you don’t give yourself the chance to learn how because you believe that writing requires innate talent and that if you had it, you’d already be writing.
  • You might even be afraid that your best work is already behind you.

What you need to understand is that these fears are ONLY fears. Nothing more, nothing less. They MAY come true, we may fall on our faces and have to pick ourselves up again, just like my son did on his way to school this morning.

You also need to understand that these fears are your ENEMIES. They are the enemies to your dream of writing, and courage is your antidote.

Your turn

What does this illuminate for you? Share your responses in the comments.

And stay tuned for the next post in this series coming your way tomorrow, “How to Spot the Stealthy Smokescreens that Stop You From Writing.” Watch for it on the blog or subscribe here.

About the Writer’s Circle

I inspire writers to find the courage to share the stories they are secretly longing to tell but are afraid won’t be heard or welcomed. If you’d like company on your writer’s journey, I want to invite you to join the next session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle, which starts this coming Monday, February 20th. In the Writer’s Circle, you’ll find the peer support and accountability you need to find the courage you need to see your writing through. Registration closes THIS THURSDAY, February 16th.

Find out more and register here: http://JustDoTheWriting.com.

“I would have really struggled to do this without this writer’s group.”

I loved the community, and how quickly it came together. It made such a difference to have that support and it was so good to take the isolation of writing away. I love that my writing has quickly started to establish into my daily routine. I would have really struggled to do this without this group. I’m more creative, more productive, and starting to identify as a writer… it’s so exciting! If you’re considering this course, GO FOR IT!!!
~ Rebekah Shepherd, Yoga teacher, Writer, www.soulnicheyoga.com

It Takes An Act of Courage to Be Seen

This weekend I was in the thick of two major things that put me in a vulnerable place: Hosting a party and being creative under pressure.

On Saturday, I was trying to make a cake and a party for my son that he would love and one of my friends said, “This is kind of an over-the-top birthday for a three year old, isn’t it?” and I said, “Is it?” because I thought I was doing a great job of having it be low key and fun and cool AND make him an amazing cake he would love.

Then on Sunday, while writing my entry for the third challenge of the Short Screenplay Challenge 2010, I felt like I was trying to corral all these ideas into behaving themselves and into doing what they were supposed to be doing and they were all over the place and at the same time I was trying to meet a deadline AND be creative under pressure AND keep my head at the same time. (Jeez.)

Plus, layered on top of that, I’m in the midst of getting a hold of the slippery direction I’m heading in with my work. It’s changing, evolving, I’m doing it as I go along, but people (Read: naysayers) keep implying that I’m not doing it enough or fast enough or that I’m trying too hard to get it right before I proceed. 

All these things add to the quality of self-consciousness and second-guessing coming up that makes me feel like my slip is really showing. (I hate that.)

But right in the thick of all of this, I had the pleasure of watching Brené Brown’s brilliant TED talk on vulnerability. (If you haven’t seen it, go watch it right now, you’ll be glad you did.)

Since then, I’ve been immersed in thinking over the ways in which I hold myself back from truly connecting, being wildly, deeply creative and joyful, and just plain-old enjoying my life more and how it takes an act of courage to be seen.

Truly seen by yourself, your spouse, your children, your family, your audience.

The thing is, I want to have a LOT more fun. I’ve hacked my life in key ways over the last several years. I know how to trust my intuition, how to work with my sensitive nature rather than against it, how to Get Stuff Done and do it well and effectively, how to make a great living doing work I truly enjoy, how to run a business, and how to work from home and raise a small child (still working on that one).

And there is so much more for me to work on. (I’m an Enneagram Four; there’s ALWAYS more.)

But at the end of the day, what is the point if I’m not enjoying it?

Brené Brown tells us that being vulnerable is the key to making REAL connections, feeling more creative, and having more joy in our lives.

How can we be more real, more vulnerable, and more seen?

I’m trying.

How about you?



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If this sparked anything for you, please share it in the comments section below. I always love to hear from you.



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What’s Jenna Up To?

~> January 21st & 22nd, 2011. Voice Your Vision Mastermind Retreat. In-Person Workshop in Berkeley, California. Clarify your unique vision to implement your Life Purpose in a specific, step-by-step plan. TWO SPOTS remaining. This small group retreat is perfect for you if you know your purpose but you’re wondering, “What’s next?” Details: www.VoiceYourVisionWithJenna.com

~> January 27th & 28th, 2011. Powerful Strategies to Slay Your Inner Critic Demons So You Can Leap Into the Creative Spotlight.” Appearing as a guest expert at Baeth Davis’s “Claim Your Spotlight” program in Los Angeles, California.

~> NEW DATE: February 10 22, 2011. Virtual Workshop: Claim Your Calling: 5 Steps To Get You Back On Track With What You Were Put Here To Do. Details. Early registration ends January 13th January 27th.