By Liz, doing everything under the sun to call in the muse!
You may have noticed that I can be a little bit “woo woo.” Luckily I have Jessie to commiserate with when everyone else thinks I’m a little too crazy! But my woo woo-ness has served me well over the years, and even more so lately as I take on more writing projects and at the same time, think through what I want my future as a writer to be.
So many of us creative people have, at one time or another, experienced blocks to our creativity. These blocks could range from not knowing where to go next with a current project to being unable to start writing or creating at all, possibly because of something you learned as a child about creativity being shameful or unrealistic to pursue as your life’s work. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls these blocks “creative injuries.”
I experienced those creative injuries myself along the way, including an ingrained belief that writing was not something I could do for a living. I spent years writing only peripherally, and when I did finally take jobs that centered on writing, I wasn’t paid well (you hear me, fellow journalists??). Eventually, through a lot of work – and applying Cameron’s practices – I found my way to the page and, well, here I am.
But I was still missing something. Even though I was successfully writing two series, I was still struggling – with process, with procrastination, with plots. With taking myself seriously enough to expect more for myself and my writing life.
Until I remembered that writing is my soul work. Which meant that everything I need to be successful – and peaceful – is within me, and I simply had to tune into it. Once I started applying my “soul practice” to my writing life, everything started to change. I stopped procrastinating, started turning out more words daily, “found” more time where there used to feel like none was available, got more inspiration. As a result, my two looming deadlines aren’t causing me stress. I’m approaching my writing time with joy, and I’m confident everything will get done. When I think back to where I was a year ago – stressed to the max, racing to meet a seemingly impossible deadline amidst a spate of personal crises, getting barely any sleep – it’s almost like I can’t even remember who that person was anymore.
So here’s my five-step process for how I did that:
- Ask. Ask that place inside you – whether you call it the universe, your muse, God, your soul, it doesn’t matter – for help. Set your intention for creativity and inspiration. It can be as simple as, I need guidance today. Help me find the right words and put them on the page. And be confident you’ll be heard!
- Meditate. I know, going completely still and breathing used to seem impossible for me too. Especially with crazy writer brain, where other people are always talking. But I’m telling you – it works. Five minutes a day can totally change your writing life. You can use a guided meditation, music, or nothing at all. You can walk in nature and try to still your thoughts. I started using guided meditations by Kris Carr and Gabby Bernstein, and one of the key things I learned from them is that thoughts are always going to interrupt you – you just need to bring your attention back to your breath and your intention. There’s also a fabulous app called Insight Timer that offers both guided meditations and music to meditate by, whatever your preference. But really, you need to remember to just breathe.
- Journal. This is my other non-negotiable practice. Journaling daily can help you get out of your own way. By releasing some of those thoughts that won’t leave you alone, you clear the space for your inspiration to show up. I still use Cameron’s practice – three pages a day, and it can be complete crap. Doesn’t matter. Just get the clutter out of your head.
- Use affirmations. Yes, the way you talk to yourself really does matter. If you’re always saying, I can’t do this, I can’t meet this deadline, I have no imagination, my characters have nothing to say, I have nothing to say, I’m going to have to go work at the grocery store because my contracts will be cancelled any minute…Well, you get the idea. It’s much better to plant positive seeds, even if they feel like complete and utter BS at the time. The more you say them, the more they’ll stick. I created this affirmation for myself:
Say your affirmation daily. Feel it.
- Have fun and be thankful. How lucky are we to be creative people? And we’re all creative. It doesn’t matter if you write or not. However you express your creativity, be grateful for it. And most of all, enjoy it. Often we as writers put too much pressure on our work. We need to get back to the joy. And really, what else is there?
Great post, Liz. I started meditating last year. I use Headspace. It has made a huge difference in my life and in my creativity — in fact, right now I’m just starting the creativity pack. Haven’t done morning pages in a while, perhaps I should revisit The Artist’s Way again. Thanks for the reminder.
Nail those deadlines!
Love that, Kait. Keep meditating!
Work is joy to me, but a big personal crisis a while ago made me realize that the mind can control the body, or at least they can share the space more effectively if you get in touch with both. Meditation and breathing have saved my beans more than once when things get hairy. I will check out those guided meditation recs. Thanks!
Absolutely Ramona – getting our minds under control is the biggest barrier to our creativity, I think.
Do no harm.
I can feel the joy, Liz! And so glad you are in a better place.
This is a wonderful post, thank you!
Thank you Maurissa!
Great post here, Liz — as usual. I’ve not read Julia Cameron (maybe should?) but the discussion here resonated with me about creative work seeming shameful or unrealistic, those creative injuries, whether inflicted by others or by yourself (I still put “work” first before my writing, seems like). Thanks for the recommendations—and good luck with your own work, deadlines ahead, inner demons, all of it!
Thanks so much, Art. The Artist’s Way is a big body of work but totally worth it, in my opinion. All of her stuff is great, though.
I love this! You kmow I’m stuggling with my path–love the five steps.
Thanks Julie. You’ll figure it out!
Such good advice, Liz, and I love your daily affirmation! I’m so glad you’re finding joy in what you do.
Great post! Yes, writing is joy!
Glad you are finding your joy. Hope it continues to help your writing. After all, I want those books to read.
And I want to keep giving you good ones!
I’m totally looking into the guided meditations you mentioned. Thanks for sharing. I think this translates to any job that is also your joy. The job can seem to outweigh the joy.
It absolutely does, Terri. Hope the meditations work for you!
Um, Liz, we are SO on the same page, no pun intended! It’s a joy to see someone sharing this kind of perspective. Maybe we should start a woo-woo writers’ group? I’m kind of serious!
I agree!! Love that! Let’s connect.
Liz, I love your comments. It doesn’t take being a writer to use those recommendations. They work for life in general. I’ve been doing most of things for years and they really do make a huge difference in self-esteem, quality of work, and general happiness. Thanks!
Thank you Ginny – and I think so too!
How I love this and how happy I am that you’re able to embrace your work with joy. I’m with you on the woo-woo writer’s club – after all, I’m the lady who breathes with her candle before she writes.
Yay, Woo-Woo Writers! 🙂
Awesome!! Let’s do it.
Hi Liz, I don’t think it’s woo-woo. It’s backed by science that meditation can clear the mind and restore balance to your life. I’ve been meditating for a few years now and can’t believe how much better I feel physically and emotionally. I need to get back to the morning pages, some days there were more than three pages that had to come out before I could get on with my writing. Great post!
I love this, Liz!
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