Write Daily to Overcome Obstacles

Do you have a method to overcome obstacles in your life? You might not have thought about this before, but consider how much this could help you in your life. You probably have a number of obstacles that you’d like to overcome, but you’ve never thought about a process that might help resolve them.

Is this even possible, you might wonder? Yes, writing is a tool that can help you reflect on your obstacles one at a time and find solutions from within. In fact, this is one of the best ways to overcome obstacles.

Obstacles show up lots of ways in life. It could be a health problem or a big financial debt. It could be a relationship challenge. You might feel challenged because you lack confidence to move forward because a parent, teacher or other influential person in your life criticized you. You might fear rejection or you might be challenged with a self-imposted obstacle such as perfectionism. Regardless of what it is, stay with me. I’m here to assure you that you can overcome obstacles.

overcome obstacles

Your greatest gift is something that you already hold within. Did you realize that you already have access to the answers of how to resolve your own obstacles? Who would know better than you? It can be helpful to seek advice on how to overcome obstacles from others who pushed through similar obstacles. You can surely learn from their story and what advice they have to offer, but ultimately, you have to take into consideration how their suggestion might fit into your own life situation.

Your life is like a puzzle where all the pieces affect the others. It all fits neatly together to form a big picture. Just because someone else used a drastic measure to remove an obstacle from their life, such as divorce, doesn’t mean you need to go to this extreme to overcome obstacles you’re having with your spouse. Divorce, in fact, can open up new obstacles especially if children are involved. You need to take into consideration the whole picture. Who could possibly know better than you all the factors that you might want to consider?

It can be helpful to seek some advice from supportive friends and loved ones who know you and might be able to give some friendly advice, but be sure to remember that when you ask for advice, some people might want to hit you back later with an “I told you so” whipping. If you choose to ask for advice, be sure to carefully consider the source and whether or not they’re able to overcome obstacles in their lives.

In Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, there’s a section in the book about overcoming obstacles. The majority of the stories are from successful writers who faced obstacles with their health, or with teachers who discouraged them about their writing. Each of them tells their story of how they chose to work through the obstacle rather than let it stop them from being the writers they wanted to be. Even if you don’t want to be a full-time writer, consider how helpful it might be to use the power of writing to overcome your own obstacles.

Prolific writer, Chet Cunningham, tapping out one of his 300 books!

Chet Cunningham tells the story of how he failed the English entrance exam when he applied to college and he started college in a low level English class. He wanted to major in journalism and one of his professors called him aside to let him know that he didn’t think he’d be able to make it as a journalist.

Fortunately, Chet worked around this scholarly obstacle and submitted articles to the local newspaper which got published while he was still in college. Instead of being halted by the professor’s discouraging words, Chet decided he would work three times as hard as the other students and sure enough he published even more articles in the local papers. Eventually, the professor accepted him as a journalism major. Chet went on to write 300 books. Yes, that’s right. It’s not a typo. He wrote 300 books!

Consider one of the challenges you’re facing in your life now. It probably comes to mind often and troubles you, but then you find a way to calm down that voice and remind it to go away. What if, instead, you sat down to write about the challenge to see what comes of it? The solution might not come to you in a day, but if you continue to write to overcome obstacles day after day, you’ll be surprised at how you can really do some housecleaning in your life and in your mind. As you get more clear with your thinking and come up with strategies on how to overcome obstacles, you  have the opportunity to enjoy more fun and rewards in your life.overcome obstaclesYou might be thinking that you have bigger obstacles, ones that are too big to write your way through them. But you won’t know if you don’t try. You have to write to get to that inner voice and hear what it has to say. You will come up with answers.

But what if you’re facing a big personal challenge with a family member who is sick or recently passed away and you have unresolved issues? Sit down and write and you’ll find the lessons that were designed just for you. Whatever is happening in your life means that you’re the one who was meant to deal with it. It came your way for a reason. And it’s up to you to move through it or around it. As you set an example to others of how you overcome obstacles, you’ll gain respect from them and you’ll gain confidence to keep pushing through more obstacles in your life as well.

Just because you were rejected once doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try again. Just because someone said you were a failure doesn’t make them right unless you submit to their opinion. Just because you don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean you can’t write. You can write to overcome obstacles.

Just because you’re facing a health challenge doesn’t mean you can’t write. Stephen Hawking wrote more than a dozen books despite his physical challenges with motor neuron disease. And Ray Charles became one of the most famous songwriters of his time despite the fact that he was blind.

My parents discouraged me from pursuing writing as a career, while my teachers encouraged me to pursue my talent and passion for writing. Fortunately, I had enough confidence to stick to my dream and went on to pursue the education I needed to become an English professor. Later I changed the direction of my career to marketing and then corporate education and quality control, but the hub of my career has always evolved around writing.

I acquired the habit of writing morning pages after reading The The Artist’s Way at Work by Mark Bryan and Julia Cameron. When I write every morning, I inevitably end up writing about some of the challenges I’ve been facing, some of the projects I’ve been procrastinating, and some of the overwhelm I sometimes feel in trying to figure out how I can accomplish all I want to do.

As I write through each of my obstacles one at a time day after day, I inevitably find a ways to overcome obstacles. Sometimes it means that I figure out a way to remove a person or situation from my life. Other times it might be that I finally decide to start tackling a project and it gets done faster than I expect. Other times I might be dealing with a challenge with a relationship, and inevitably as I write about it, I find the best way to overcome the obstacle at least for now.

How writing daily can help you stop procrastinating. 

As you write about challenges, there comes a point when you realize that there’s no point in complaining about them day after day. It’s quite empowering instead to brainstorm ways you might overcome obstacles. This plants seeds and solutions that will lead you forward. And finally, after you overcome obstacles, remember to note how you became a better person through the experience.




How Writing Daily Can Help You Stop Procrastinating

If you’ve ever felt blocked as a writer, you know that one of the best ways to stop procrastinating is to just sit down and start writing. By getting into the action of writing, you stop procrastinating and immediately start producing sentences. As many successful authors will tell you, it’s best to just start writing, even if the sentences aren’t yet coming out just the way you want them to. Make time to write every day and you will find that you’re able to stop procrastinating.

Today I finished up last year’s taxes. It’s May and yes, just in case you were concerned, I did file for an extension. I should have gotten the taxes out of the way sooner, but since I don’t like doing taxes, I allowed myself to procrastinate. But the good news is that it wasn’t as long as I procrastinated last year. Last year I didn’t turn in my taxes until August.

Journal every morning.

One of the biggest benefits of writing three morning pages, as suggested by Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way, is that by writing these pages every morning, it gives me an opportunity to think forward toward the day ahead. It’s natural to write about the things I’m excited to do that day as well as the things that are bothering me. I also write about the things I know I need to get done, but don’t want to do. And I write about things I don’t have enough time to get to today even though I think I’d like to. When I’m journaling in the morning, it all makes it to the pages.

Can morning pages help you ride a creative dragon? 

When writing for the third or fourth day in a row why I don’t want to do a thing, it’s like having a little internal coach that’s reminding me that I really need to get this thing done. Once I get in motion, it usually happens quicker than I expect, or I feel rewarded just knowing that it’s done. In the case of reminding myself over and over again that I needed to vacuum and mop the floors last week, I finally did it, and I got the satisfaction of a cleaner home.

Choose to do one task to break through procrastination.

All of these projects that stand in front of me are like little flies buzzing around my head reminding me that I’m not good enough, and that I should be getting more done each day. These projects are like challenges that dare to hold me back. By deciding to bust through them, they disappear just like those little enemies do on video games when I shoot at them. It’s feels great to know that they’re out of the way and I can proceed forward.

Speaking of shooting, sometimes when I finally get involved in something I’ve been procrastinating, I find out that it has already solved itself or that it’s much less time consuming than I originally expected, or that I only need to take one small step now and there’s a good reason to wait to complete the rest of it. So many good things come from just getting started, doing the tasks involved, and feeling the relief of knowing that I can move forward.

Take action now to make room for new opportunities.

In her book, A Broom of One’s Own, Nancy Peacock talks about her housecleaning business and some of her clients. She rants about her challenges of picking up after people. In chapter four, she describes an older couple, The Kruegers, who are on her “hit list.” They frequently ask her to move furniture and large plants. Mrs. Krueger is always pointing out the dirty spots in the house, or a place where she recently saw a spider in the curtains. She points out some dust that built up between the wall-to-wall carpeting and the baseboard, and a spot on a cabinet in the kitchen, always nit-picking about something.

Nancy needs the money and the housekeeping gives her the freedom to write on her own schedule. But does she really need these clients that she dreads to visit? She doesn’t like working for them, and as she records this on paper, she’s emphasizing the fact that she doesn’t want to go back. The very act of writing it makes it become more apparent to her conscious mind and automatically lays out an action item she should do. She becomes aware of something she’s procrastinating. Yes, she might have to find a new client and come up to speed with their needs, but wouldn’t it just be better to get it done sooner than later?

Assuming you’re writing fairly fast from your stream of consciousness, those things that come to mind from your flow of inner voice are the things that can propel you forward. Just by acknowledging what you want to do, you plant a seed that can now sprout and begin to manifest in your life. As you write about it, the sprout begins to grow.

When you’re proactive, you find that random opportunities come up and you realize that don’t have to go back to that job. You don’t have to live in that place. You don’t have to put up with that person, or whatever it is. As I read Nancy’s chapter about her frustration with the Kruegers, I’m wondering through each paragraph if she’s going to resolve this and escape from the Kruegers. I want to know if she’s able to write her way out of procrastination. Will she stop procrastinating and tell the Kruegers that she’s never coming back?

This morning when I was writing my morning pages, I was reflecting on the fact that my husband and I had a full day at home with nothing on our schedule, so it was a great day to finish up our taxes. We have a way of doing our taxes together. I do a lot of the categorization, while he creates spreadsheets, scans documents, and sends everything over to our accountant. It’s a good process. It’s one we sort of fell into after almost two decades of being together. Next year, yes next year, I will surely get my part done sooner!

Pay attention to why you’re procrastinating.

There’s great value in journaling about things you don’t want to do, but feel you need to. Simply by writing about it, you gain insight into specific reasons you feel stuck.


Do you really need to do this thing? Or is it something you can ignore, delegate or dismiss?


After knowing for the past weeks and months that I needed to do taxes, I finally wrote about it so much that I realized it would be much better to just get it done. Even when I wasn’t writing about it, it was cluttering up space in my subconscious, like a nagging voice that got louder and more annoying over time. Writing about it allows it to surface and be addressed with the attention it deserves. I thought about hiring a bookkeeper, but it’s really not necessary, at least for now.

Writing about your to do list is more effective than a to do list alone.

Journaling about what needs to get done is more effective than just putting an item on a to list that you forward from one day to the next. It’s easy to look at a big task and think, “oh, not now, maybe tomorrow.” But when you’re writing about something day after day, your mind starts to percolate all the little tasks within the bigger project. As it bubbles up through the words on your page, it’s starts to boil and you get fired up about getting it done and overwith.

Writing daily is a remedy to help you stop procrastinating. Lorraine Haataia

Writing the same thing over and over again every day is motivation in itself to stop procrastinating. How can I bear to be with myself if I put this off another day? By writing about what I feel I should be doing, it helps me to stop procrastinating. Even as I pause from writing, I have to ask myself, why am I pausing?

Stop procrastinating.

Keep writing!

Decide to get it done ASAP.

It’s much easier to just get projects done quickly, especially those that you don’t want to do. It’s such a relief to get them done and check them off. It opens up the days ahead allowing you to move forward knowing that the project is done and you’re free from it. As long as it’s still on your mind as something you need do, it will stand in front of you like another hurdle to jump. When you look out on the horizon, you’ll see this thing that stands in front of you. It’s so much easier to just get it done and stop procrastinating. By getting it done, you get a huge sense of relief.

Today when I finished up my part of the taxes, it felt like I took a huge step forward. The next step is that my husband sends everything over to our accountant who takes care of all the details. One of the things I figured out when I finally decided to dive into the project is that I was having trouble with one major vendor. I needed a detailed report to catch all the right expenses and I wasn’t able to get it from them last year. But this year, I dug a little deeper and discovered that I could create this custom report.

Last year I just didn’t take enough time to search and ask the right questions in order to get what I needed. It was very frustrating. Just by making the decision today to stop procrastinating and get it done, I feel a huge sense of relief that not only did it get done, but it gone done much faster than I expected because of that one report that made everything go so much faster this year than it did last year.

Write about why you need to stop procrastinating.

Declaring that you’ve come down with a case of writer’s block is just another way of reminding yourself that you need to stop procrastinating on your writing. If you didn’t have a desire to write, then you’d never have the opportunity to diagnose yourself with writer’s block.

In the 7 Secrets of the Prolific, author Hillary Rettig tells writers that they should never apply labels like “lazy” to themselves. She goes on to say that “laziness, lack of willpower, etc., are symptoms, and not causes, or underproductivity.”

As I record the words streaming from my inner voice, I sense that it has much to say and will carry on indefinitely. I just need to ask the right questions and this inner muse will give me a flood of sentences, paragraphs and chapters. In fact, I know with the help of this inner wisdom, I break through barriers that used to feel like impossibilities.

Write to tap into your Inner Wisdom

The best way to stop procrastinating is to start doing that thing that you feel like you need to do. When it’s done, you’ll be so happy that you were able to reposition this thing from your future into your past.

stop procrastinating

 




Write to Lure Your Creative Flow

Creative flow is not a secret place, but you do need to search for it in different places throughout your lifetime. Would you like to figure out how you can lure your creative flow so that you can write on demand? It is possible, but you won’t be able to get the answer from anyone but yourself. It requires that you try a variety of methods until you figure out what works best for you. And you might also find that different things work better at different times or places.

Writers do a lot of different things to get ready to write. Writing can be one of the highest forms of mental concentration, yet at the same time, it’s also as simple as tuning into your inner voice. But how can you hear that inner voice? Some writers need silence to lure their creative flow, while others listen to music.

Do you have a prewriting ritual?

Some writers do certain activities before writing. It helps them them get in the mood to write. They might eat, walk the dog, or take a shower. Whatever works best for you is what you should do. You really won’t know unless you try a variety of activities along with your writing. Some people wouldn’t think of sitting down to write unless they had a cup of hot coffee or tea on their desk.

Some people meditate before writing to clear their mind, while others use triggers such as reading to get words flowing. You could, for example take the first line of a poem written by someone else, write a poem based on that line and then go back and change the first line. There are many ways you can experiment to get yourself started. For example, have you ever tried doodling an outline before you started writing?

What about research?

Whether you’re writing song lyrics, a novel, a poem, or a blog post, your process might be the same. But for some writers, especially if something requires a lot of research, it’s essential to do the research in advance and track that time and activity separate from the actual writing process.

It’s vital to think about your topic and get your research done before you dive into the actual writing process. If there’s anything that will stop you from writing, it’s the uncertainty of what you want to write. The more you write about the things you love, the easier it is to get those thoughts down on paper or into your computer.

One great way to slow down your writing is to try to write while you’re doing research, or try to write while you’re editing. Both will stunt your creativity. Your creativity is more likely to flow when you’re letting the words flow from your mind to the paper. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing longhand or typing into a computer. It works either way.

Do you need to tidy up your writing space?

Some writers can write in the middle of chaotic offices stacked with books and papers, with a big ashtray full of cigar butts. Other writers need a tidy office so that they don’t have any visual distraction. Some writers like to face their desk toward a wall, while others prefer to look out a window. There is no right or wrong answer here. You just have to experiment to see what sparks your creative flow most.

If you have a messy office and it bothers you, consider closing your eyes while you write. This works if you’re using a keyboard, assuming you can type without looking at it. Or if you’re writing longhand, you might just keep your eyes on the page and try to avoid looking around. In fact if your normal workspace isn’t working that well for you, consider trying new places to write until you find environments that are more conducive to luring your creative flow. If you spend a lot of time writing at home, it’s worth taking the time to make sure that you love your workspace. Surround yourself with whatever it takes to spark your creative flow. If you do your best writing during your morning commute on the train, then there’s no need to make waves at home.

What about writer’s block?

If you feel stuck, try reading a book to get words flowing through your mind. Choose a book you love or one that sparks your creative flow in some way. By experimenting with different methods, you can certainly find routines that trigger your brain and body to lure your creative flow.

Some people say that they can’t write because they have writer’s block and they use it as an excuse to procrastinate. Keep in mind that your creative flow is always available to you. Imagine if you’re suddenly faced with a problem and you have to make a quick decision. You’re going to put your mind in action and do what you need to do. If you have that same sense of urgency about your writing, you’ll be surprised at how much you can do to captivate your creative flow. You have to have a sense of urgency about sharing your message.

When is the best time to write?

If someone asked if you were a morning or evening person, you’d be able to respond quickly with whichever one applies most to you. The majority of professional writers who are writing full time use daytime to write. But there are certainly lots of jokes and chapters and songs that have been written in the late hours of the evening.

You can write any time. In fact, some writers say they keep a journal by their bedside because sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, or a remnant of a dream. Or maybe they wake up first thing in the morning when the alarm goes off ready to jot down foggy notes about an interrupted dream.

It’s all fodder to fuel your creativity. Some people who write early in the morning or late in the evening say that it works great for them because they’re still in a bit of a relaxed trance state where it’s easier to connect with their subconscious thoughts. And some people purposely induce a more relaxed state by reaching for a glass of wine or some other form of alcohol.

For more ideas on creative flow, check out this discussion where Joe Rogan interviews Steve Kotler, the Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project:

When is the best time to stop writing?

For longer pieces such as books, some writers strategically choose a stopping point such as at the end of a scene, so they can start the next day on the next scene, while others might want to stop in the middle of a scene, setting themselves up for the urge to get back to finishing the scene the next time they sit down to write. Their mind stays occupied with the scene until they get back to the page.

What’s the best way to avoid distractions?

Find a way to work around distractions. Writers who have kids at home tend to write early in the morning before the kids wake up or later in the evening after the kids are in bed. And some writers choose to get a babysitter so that they can stay focused on their writing. Distractions break your creative flow, cause frustration, and potentially even put stress on your relationships. It’s best to let your loved ones know that you’re going to make time to write separate from the quality time you want to spend with them.

Some writers choose to write outside their home, in coffee shops or libraries. Either will do. You just need to explore what works best for you.

What about food?

Some writers like to start writing after a meal, while others say that they feel too sluggish after eating. There might be certain foods you like while you’re writing, such as little chocolate treats. For the most part, writers tend to write after eating rather than trying to eat and write at the same time. Eating can, in fact, serve as a big distraction. You need to eat enough so that you have the mental fuel to write, but not so much that it makes you sluggish.

What’s the benefit of creative flow?

The creative connection is much more likely to happen when you feel the freedom to let the words flow. Creativity expands when you’re in your flow. In order for creativity to appear, writers need to find a way to make words flow, just as artists need to find a way to make images flow, and architects have to find a way to make lines flow as they develop blueprints. Your inner wisdom offers a new perspective.

Write to tap into your inner wisdom.

Creative flow is the place where new connections are made. It’s where you have a chance to express your distinct self as a separate, yet connected human being. The very nature of being human is to be a human doing something. You can do what you’ve always done and you can follow what others are doing, but when you go into a state of creative flow to spark new ideas, and new ways, it’s an irresistible attraction for those who are searching for what you have to offer.

How does movement affect your creative flow?

If you feel stuck, consider going on a walk. The act of walking stimulates the mind with images and activities that spark ideas and allow your creativity to flow. The very act of walking is a means of taking your body through space and time to absorb the flow of life around you. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular ways that writers use to attract their creative flow.

Some writers do more practical tasks when they feel stuck. If you need a break from your writing, consider doing housekeeping chores that involve movement, such as vacuuming, mopping, sweeping or even scrubbing the shower. Not only will you be rewarded with a clean house, you’ll be able to keep processing your ideas while you take short breaks. This can be especially effective if having a clean home matters to you.

If you’re interested in more terrific tips on tapping into your creative flow, read Susan K. Perry’s book Writing In Flow.




Write to Clarify Your Message

Before you engage in a conversation, do you take time to clarify your message? Do you think about what you want to say in advance? This is easy when you’re texting or sending an email. You can write, edit and send. But when you’re speaking, it helps to plan ahead.

Clarify your message with friends.

Taking the time to clarify your message is an ongoing process. As your life changes, you have different messages to send. If you have children and someone asks if you want to do some fun activities with kids and you say yes, you’re saying yes to something that’s fun as defined by you. You may not know what fun means to the person who’s asking. And the same is true if you’re the one doing the inviting.

If you’re asking a couple to join you for dinner, it’s helpful for everyone involved to know specifically what you’re asking. Is it an indoor potluck or an outdoor barbeque? Will you be making all the food? It’s helpful to confirm whether or not there are any special dietary needs. If you enjoy playing board games and you’re expecting everyone to play along, it’s helpful to mention it in advance to avoid disappointment. Did you remember to mention you have pets?

Clarity helps others makes decisions, and it’s equally beneficial to you as well. What if your friend left frustrated because she sneezed all night, her eyes teared up, and she went home with an allergic reaction because you have several cats, but she didn’t know. Remember to mention you have cats.

Clarify your message at work.

Another level of clarifying your message happens at work. Whether you work for another company or your own, it’s important to be clear about what you do best and what services you offer. This is especially relevant for company leaders, marketing departments, and people who work in sales. It’s important that messages are clear. Colleagues and customers are much happier when they know they’re basing their decisions on transparent truth. Clarity is a soothing oil that helps to keep relationships running smoothly.

William Zinsser On Writing Well clarify your message

William Zinsser, a writer’s writer who taught that clutter was the enemy.

Lawyers, big companies, government and the IRS are known for messy messages. They say “at this present time” instead of now. They say things like “explosive expressions of dissatisfaction” instead of protest. William Zinsser advises in his book On Writing Well, that it’s critical to remove all redundant and unnecessary words. What shows up as clutter on the page is an insult to the reader who is genuinely interested in your message. Keep your message succinct. Respect your time and his.

Gobbledygook is so rampant in government that an organization sprung up in the 1990s to help remedy the problem. The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees form different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing.

PLAIN Plain Language Action Information Network clarify your message

The entire legal industry exists because of the tangled messages and complicated interpretations of the law. You can only hope that you’re doing the right thing and not breaking a law. We know the basic laws, but if we ever happen to get involved a legal battle, experts would advice us to seek the counsel of an attorney who has learned to read the complex laws and navigate through perplexing paragraphs.

Clarify your message for family.

As you clarify your message for others, it essentially helps you clarify what you want. You might state that you want to go on a vacation, but where? It’s much easier if you mention to your spouse that you’d like to go to a nudist resort in Costa Rica for your birthday. This states a specific type of place and a time. It’s clear.

Let’s say your husband asks if you’d like to head north. You reply that you don’t want to go anyplace cold and ramble on with more of what you don’t want. They’re all wasted words. There’s rarely a reason to state what you don’t want. In fact, doing so is counterproductive.

Before you mention what you do not want, know that what you’re about to say can be eliminated both in writing and in speech. There’s no point in mentioning what you don’t want because this could go on endlessly ad nauseum. Where will this end, your listener or reader will wonder?

The only thing that’s important to mention is what you do want. And this takes thought. We seem to have gut feelings about what we want, but in many cases, we have been conditioned to ignore our inner wisdom.

Write to tap into your inner wisdom. 

As you clarify your message, you also clarify your wants. As you clarify and communicate what you’d like to see manifest in your life, you’re much more likely to enjoy the world around you.

A lack of clarity in your message is a reflection of befuddled thoughts. If you’re not sure of what you want, just say so. “I don’t know.” Take time to sort out your thoughts and convey your message later.

In fact, when you’re describing any aspect of your life, whether it’s what you want to do on a weekend or how you want to redecorate a room in your home, the more you can clarify your message, the more likely you are to get what you want. By learning to clarify your message, you will be able to tidy up not only your thinking, but also the world around you.

If you’re interested in pursuing clarity as a part of your writing career, get inspired by Alan Siegel’s TED talk where he demonstrates what he’s doing to help simplify jargon.

 

Exercise:

Think of something going on in your life that feels chaotic or unclear. Sit down and write about it. You’ll have to go through the fog to get to clarity, but when you do, it’s worth it. Often, you’ll find simple solutions to your problems simply by taking the time to get clarity on what you want. When it comes to defining what you want, you’ll be the first to know.




Write to tap into your inner wisdom.

Do you feel like you have all the inner wisdom you need, if only you could figure out how to tap into it? It’s quite common to have an instant gut feeling about things that confront us in life. The gut feeling is the immediate reaction we have when we’re faced with a decision. Someone asks:

  • Would you like to join us?
  • Can you loan me some money?
  • Do you have time for coffee?
  • Can you help me with this project?
  • Got a minute?

The problem, however, is that you’ve been conditioned to adapt to social graces, cultural norms, family traditions, workplace standards and so on, for many years. Over time you become numb to your gut feeling that springs from inner wisdom.

It’s easy to become what you think others want you to become instead of expressing the genuine version of you. If someone were to ask you who you are, what would you say?

I am one who . . .

Seena Frost, the Founder of SoulCollage®, developed a process whereby participants collage together images that represent a particular energy or meaning for them. Each card is symbolic of an inner voice or a part of your life: a person you know, a pet, a place, a major life event, a cultural standard, and other powers that make up the experience of being you.

SoulCollage® offers a powerful method to help you tap into your life experiences in a new way. By recognizing and naming various parts of your greater self, you begin to tap into your inner wisdom. As you gaze at a collaged card that you created, you begin by saying out loud or writing in your journal, “I am one who . . . ” and from here you learn to listen to your inner voice that is always with you.

To learn more about this powerful method, read SoulCollage Evolving: An Intuitive Collage Process for Self-Discovery and Community by Seena B. Frost.

How to recognize the voices in your head . . .

You think “out loud” in your mind all day long. Think about that for a moment. What you write, or say out loud, is simply a censored version of what you think. You edit what you say depending on who you’re talking to. This is normal.

By tuning in to the various thoughts in your mind and reflecting on their source, you gain awareness of what’s driving your decisions. The more you actively pay attention to your thoughts, the easier it becomes to identify their source. As you do this you can learn to recognize their presence and what triggers them to pop up.

Do you recognize a “you should” voice that tells you what you should be doing. You might notice a childlike voice that blurts out to tease people. Or you might recognize the voice of someone who had a big influence on you such as a parent who made you feel like you were never good enough, or a teacher who encouraged you to pursue your dream of becoming a musician. Perhaps you experienced a tragedy that changed the course of your life and activated a loud voice that triggers fear.

Learn to listen without judgment.

Once you gain awareness of the different personalities of the different voices, you’ll have a tendency to want to judge some as good and others as bad. The truth is that they all play a part in who you are. They have coached you to become who you are all your life right up to this very moment. In essence, they’re your best friends that you’ve chosen to keep around.

Even those that seem annoying are truly trying to do their best to protect you and your ego. They help you justify all the choices you make all day long. They help you come up with clever excuses.

They remind you of your fears. They hold you back in comfort when you’re faced with a new and exciting opportunity. They nudge you forward with logic, even when your gut feeling is telling you to back out.

Being attentive to your thoughts is a step toward accessing your inner wisdom.

As you gain a deeper understanding of these various voices, you can counteract with other voices. This process takes time. Keep in mind that you’ve spent years accumulating all sorts of thought processes from countless people, and you’ve played a major role in directing and interpreting all these experiences.

It would be exhausting and nearly impossible to go through every day noting all your thoughts. But through the SoulCollage® process, you can quickly gain insight into your inner wisdom by recognizing the value that your inner voices have to offer. As you learn to tone down the chatter of many voices, you begin to hear the one true Voice. This one Voice you hear speaks for all. This all-knowing Voice will always choose what’s best for all. This all-knowing Voice shares your will. This all-knowing Voice is your source of inner wisdom.

I’ve experimented with lots of journaling methods, but I’ve found SoulCollage® to be one of the most powerful means of tapping into my inner wisdom.

Should you do SoulCollage®? Check out this video to see if you think it might be something for you:

SoulCollage inner wisdom




Can Morning Pages Help You Ride a Creative Dragon?

Morning pages are known by many as a way to break through blocks. Highly creative people are gifted with talents that take them in many directions. To the outside observer, their work might appear chaotic like a hurricane or earthquake. All people are creative, but few figure out how to tap into their creative superpower, channel the energy and send it out on a mission.

I’ve known about The Artist’s Way for many years and, being in the writing community, I’ve heard a number of success stories. The Artist’s Way isn’t just another book. It’s a guide that leads you through a twelve-week journey of self discovery. It requires that you write morning pages and take artist’s dates with your creative child. What’s that all about?

Most self-help books spoon out tips, stories and advice without serious calls to action. But The Artist’s Way requires action. It makes sense, though. How else would you ever figure out how to ride a dragon?

julia cameron the artist's way morning pages

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, says that creativity is like a dragon that we need to ride. It’s full of energy and has lots of power. Our challenge is to figure out a way to stay on that dragon.

I am one who has known this dragon for a long time. I have observed the dragon from the sidelines. I constantly feed it ideas. I’ve devoted my life to the training and education of the dragon. He breathes in and asks for more. He runs about looking for new things to consume. He asks for things to do, but I haven’t yet figured out how to fully harness his energy.


Many of us find that we have squandered our own creative energies by investing disproportionately in the lives, hopes, dreams, and plans of others.

Julia Cameron


Silly me. Creativity isn’t something we own. It isn’t something that can be boxed up and packaged to go. Creativity is shared and it’s spacious. If you try to own it, it slips through your fingers. Creativity happens through relationships among people and things, between a hand, a pen and a paper.

Creativity is a vacuum, a fire and a force. It can drive you and help you transcend to new heights. It’s our a first love that can be matched by no other. It’s our reason for being. We are all here to create. We are all creators.

I thought I could to tame the dragon, but he screamed back with winds of chaos and agitation. It’s insane to tame a life force that’s designed to be free.


“Anyone who faithfully writes morning pages will be led to a connection with a source of wisdom within.”

Julia Cameron


This morning when I finished reading Week One of The Artist’s Way, I went off into research mode trying to figure out if I should follow Julia’s advice to write out the morning pages longhand. I haven’t written longhand on notebook pages for many years! I was hoping to come across some scientific research that would allow me to justify typing my morning pages into Evernote. That’s what Edwin Soriano does, so why can’t I?

I came across a number of testimonials from people who also resisted writing their morning pages by hand, but later found that they were glad that they did. Plus Julia’s voice kept whispering to me that I’d have extra benefits by doing it longhand. So finally I did, late this morning, write my first morning pages longhand. I decided to commit to doing this for the twelve weeks. Who am I to question Julia’s wisdom? She’s been riding the dragon for decades!

After I finished writing my morning pages, I snapped photos of them and put them into a brand new Evernote notebook.

Lots of people who start writing morning pages tout that they never stop. For many, it turns into a longtime habit. At the end of the twelve weeks I can reevaluate and see what I’d like to do from then on. As a writer who has been searching for a means to become more prolific, I expect to be one of those people who adopt morning pages as a new habit.

Do you feel a creative dragon within that’s enticing you to come along for the ride?




750 Words: A blogging tool to help you write faster

The purpose of 750 Words is to provide accountability for people who want to write at least 750 words a day. It’s an awesome site created by Buster and Kellianne.

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia CameronIt’s a digital tool for keeping “morning pages,” a technique recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Her recommendation is to start every day with “stream of consciousness writing.” She recommends writing three pages of longhand, or the equivalent of about 750 words.

750 Words is a community of writers where (digital) writing is the main goal. It’s not about socializing or promoting your blog or books. It’s all about writing and tracking your progress over time.

I’ve known about it for several years, but didn’t get serious about it until recently. I’m so glad I finally did. My writing speed has improved dramatically.

Why use 750 words as a blogging tool?

When you write here, no one is watching. You enter the space, write without any judgment, and watch your progress build over time.

It’s a tool that can free you up to write faster. If you’re having trouble meeting your blogging goals, this is the solution you’ve been seeking.

Start with a clean slate every day

Each day when you log in to 750 Words, you begin with a blank page. You don’t have to click here or there to get to your blank page. It’s the first thing you see. It’s so simple that even the technically challenged can manage it.

You get a quick overview of your stats for the current month. If you start writing, but don’t reach the 750 goal, you get a slash mark for the day. If you exceed 750 words, you get an X in the box for that day.

You see today’s date and you’re ready to get started. Here’s a sample from a writer at ProfHacker:

750 Words ProfHacker writing sample writer's bootcamp

This screenshot from 2010 shows that there were 263 patrons at the time. Today the site has more than 3300 members.

Connect with your readers

Blogging is about producing interesting content that other people find entertaining or otherwise useful. Because there’s no “publish” button in 750 Words, you feel free to say what’s on your mind in an honest and courageous fashion.  The faster you write, the more authentic you’ll be.

This is a great tool to knock out a blog post draft in 10-15 minutes. By staying liquid and real with your writing, you’ll attract more readers. If you over-edit, you can come across too stiff or sterile.

750 Words mindset writing introvert positive uncertain thinking future

One of the benefits of having a blog is that you can go back and make edits at any time. There’s no need to spend too much time making sure every sentence is perfect. You can always go back and make changes tomorrow.

Generate content you can use later

As you’re writing from your stream of consciousness, you’ll come up with interesting memories, cool quotes, and good ideas. These are useful sentences and paragraphs you can add to your growing database of content.

This is a great way to get your thoughts in writing and generate a bunch of blog post ideas day after day. I usually write more than 750 words. As soon as I complete my daily entry, I copy/paste my text from 750 Words to Evernote so I can easily search for keywords later.

Daily practice helps you write faster

It provides you with statistics telling you how fast (words per minute) and how much (total number of words) you write on any given day. You compete with yourself to become a more productive writer. Here are some sample stats from Marian Schembari. On this day she wrote 78 words per minute and completed her 750 words in 10 minutes. Are you tracking your writing speed?

750Words Marian Schembari words per minute distractions

Get in the habit of writing every day

If you want to be a successful writer, the daily boxes and occasional badges motivate you to establish the daily habit of writing. Here’s what it looks like when you write every day of the month.

Kristen Grainer writing streak 750words badges

Notice that it took Kristen 12 minutes to write 750 words on this day. Since all the boxes are complete with an X, it means that she wrote every day in June. Check out Kristen Grainer‘s beautiful blog at Shutter & Spice.

Get some insight into how you’re feeling

In addition to providing statistics on your writing habits, you also get colorful pie charts on some of your overall feelings based on what you wrote. The faster you write, the better. This gives you insight into what topics you may or may not want to handle today.

750 words Feeling Pie Charts concerned about

Get a good idea of what’s on your mind

After you’ve completed your words, you get a visual picture of what topics were on your mind. On this day, I had an intention to write about my education. Based on my word cloud, I can see that I stuck to my topic.

 

frequently used words word cloud doctor lorraine haataia 750 words

 

If you don’t write with a specific intention, you can do some free writing and find out later what was most on your mind that day. It’s a fun discovery tool either way.

Connect with other bloggers

Although 750 Words isn’t designed for networking, you can see user names of other members and, in some cases, connect with them through social media. You can also keep an eye on 750 Words Facebook page for updates and ideas.

Should you use 750 Words?

Write Fast Bryan Hufford bookThis is an awesome tool I highly recommend. Regardless of how busy you are with other activities in your life, this tool can help you get more focused on your writing.

If you want to be a consistent and successful blogger, 750 Words can help you establish three essential habits necessary for being a productive blogger:

  • write daily
  • write fast
  • edit later