December 9: How Your Beliefs Shape Your Writing

How Do Your Beliefs Affect Your Writing?

Yesterday we delved into what it is we believe. This isn’t just about what we spiritually believe, though that can play a role, but what is that we believe about ourselves.

Story-telling is a method of
explain the world around us.

Story-telling is about showing and sharing our experiences in life and examining the human condition. Historically, it would be a means to explain the changing seasons, the migrating animals, the truly amazing and horrifying occurrences in the past. It was a way of depicting the world our ancestors lived in, and we do the same thing today.

As writers, we are story-tellers. Even if your medium is non-fiction, you are putting your own flavor and perspective into your writing, You shine through with the words you choose.

The downside of this is that we also tell ourselves stories. All the time. Every minute of every day. This isn’t just writers who do this, but every single one of us. When we look at how we perceive the person who cut us off in traffic, we’re telling a story. That story could either be that they just didn’t see us when they changed lanes, or that they’re personally attacking us, or that they’re just arrogant enough to believe that you should yield to them.

How we tell our stories in our lives shapes how we see the world. The drive for the stories we tell is anchored in our beliefs.

Journal Prompt

Today’s journal prompt looks at the beliefs you analyzed yesterday and consider how they affect your writing.

Pull out your list of beliefs, and ask yourself what they do regarding your writing. Do they inspire? Do they hinder? Do they influence the genre you write? What kind of endings on your stories do you have? Why?

Take the time to consider what you generally like to write, and how they correspond to your beliefs.

Once you have done that, spend some time asking yourself what you can do to alter the beliefs that are negatively influencing your writing practices or habits. Ask yourself what your writing or life might look like if you changed these beliefs. Spend some time journaling about this. Really challenge yourself to look into these questions and the correspondences. You’ll be surprised by what you find.

Tomorrow

Today is the last day that we focus on you, the writer. Tomorrow we begin to look more specifically at your 2020 goals. However, the last 9 prompts have been to help you get to know yourself so that you can make effective goals in 2020 that are in alignment with you.

By knowing yourself, you can know that sure, you want to sell 100,000 books next year, but because you know that you detest marketing, you’ll have to hire someone to do the marketing for you, or develop a marketing strategy that you can abide by. Knowing yourself means you can create plans that you are more likely to follow.

Knowing what brings you Joy can also mean using that as the inspiration to propel you toward achieving your goals.

Using a personal example, I adore working with writers. It lights me the f up. This is why I became a writing coach. For 2020, I of course am going to have goals for my business. But, I hate marketing, if you recall. But, by keeping in mind my love for working with writers, I can create a goal that involves working with writers and knowing that every step I take toward that goal will keep lighting me up. This might mean finding writing groups to just exchange stories with outside of being a coach, or beta reading. Both of these allow me to interact with writers and it can also be a way that I can network and market at the same time. Finding a path that lights me up is how I will succeed in my 2020 coaching-related goals.

To prepare for the next few journal prompts, look back at the journaling you have done so far. Look at how what you’ve learned about yourself can potentially work toward enhancing and empowering your 2020 goals, even if you don’t have them developed yet.

Designing your 2020 goals begins tomorrow.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 8 Journal Prompt: What Do You Believe?

What do you believe?

Asking yourself what you believe is a multi-faceted question. You might know what you believe in spiritually, but we all have beliefs that we don’t realize we carry with us.

This is an important thing to realize about yourself. This can be one of the things that is blocking you from getting what you really want. This can manifest in writers block, in bad relationships, in a career you hate, in anger or depressive issues, and so on.

Today’s journal prompt is going to ask you to get really deep into what it is that you believe about yourself. This might not come easily to you, as often the beliefs we have will be subconscious. However, if you look at a particular issue that you might be having, especially around writing, you can start asking yourself questions from there.

This is how it’s going to look:

The Journal Prompt

Pick a recurring issue in your life. Since I am a writing coach and I assume you are a writer, I’ll use a writing-related example.

I can’t ever finish a writing project.

Many writers suffer with this. They have an idea, start on it, but might never get further than the first chapter. Or they have an idea and they don’t start it at all. Or they have an idea and while they’re starting that idea, three more come rushing at the writer—and they’re so much shinier and more exciting that the writer gets distracted by them.

Does this sound familiar?

Perhaps you might find that you finish plenty of projects, but haven’t done anything with them. You won’t let anyone read them. Or you do let people read them, but you don’t respond well to their constructive criticism.

Once you have your common recurring setback or block, play the Why game with yourself, like you did for Day 2.

Ask yourself why until you get yourself to the belief behind your issue.

It might look something like this:

I can’t finish a writing project.
Why?
Because I get stuck and don’t know where to go.
Why?
Because I haven’t put the time into researching and plotting.
Why?
Because I was too excited to start this and didn’t want to lose momentum.
Why?
Because I struggle to hold on to inspiration.

And we arrive at the belief: Inspiration is fleeting. This, then, is a mindset problem, and can be resolved.

We’ll talk about what to do with the beliefs in tomorrow’s Journal Prompt, but for now, make a list of as many beliefs that you might have, and interrogate them. See what you come up with.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 7 Journal Prompt: What is Revolting?

What in life revolts you?

This exercise can be fun, or it can be dark. I’ll let you decide where you want to put it.

While getting to know yourself and your writing, you’ll come across practices that might pertain to your goal that just make you feel gross. For example, many writers detest the idea of marketing (I’m one of them!). There’s good ways of marketing which don’t feel slimy, and then there’s disgusting methods of marketing that make my skin crawl. Everyone’s different, so I won’t list anything here.

Why You Should Know This

So far we’ve looked at what inspires you, what scares you, and what brings you joy. All of these have been aimed at personal development as well as potential prompts or things to consider while you’re developing your character.

Today’s journal prompt is purely for inspiration.

Often when we develop a character, we might think about what the character likes and dislikes, but going so far as knowing what revolts them is the opportunity to give that character just a little bit more depth.

Furthermore, in knowing what revolts you, you gain some insight as to what might revolt a reader. Depending on the genre you’re writing in, this has the potential to create a more gripping effect in your writing.

For example, a client of mine who wrote a beautiful short piece for a competition (and was successful!) had a character lift a lock of hair to his noseless face, where a nose used to be, and sniff it. That image made my skin crawl and I loved it. I was invested in the story completely with that detail.

However, there is definitely a fine line here.

While it can be affective in creating a capturing piece, it can also have the opposite effect. If it’s too revolting, it might make your reader close the book and be done with it.

Chuck Palahniuk certainly walks this line, and for many readers, crosses it. His short stories can be absolutely horrific to read, though are of outstanding quality. I won’t go too into it, but let’s just say that Fight Club is easily the tamest thing he’s ever written.

The Journal Prompt

Your prompt is to look at what revolts you. Make a list of things that just creep you out, that you can’t stand the idea of, or that will make you close a book instantly and never look back.

Once you’ve made your list, ask  yourself what about it gives you this reaction. Some will be obvious, while some will really make you think. Try to avoid answers like “It’s just too much,” or “It just creeps me out,” or anything that fails to give an actual reason for why it revolts you.

Ask yourself why and interrogate this list as much as you can within comfort. If you feel up for it, push past your comfort level, though I do acknowledge there are somethings on the list that might be triggering. If you feel that it’s going to be problematic to your mental or emotional health, please don’t push yourself.

After you’ve completed this list and asked each item “why?” a few times, spend sometime freewriting about what you discovered. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about writing? What can you use from this exercise to your advantage in your writing?

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.

Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Decebmer 6: Where Is Your Joy?

What in Life Brings You Joy?

Yesterday’s journaling exercise was intense. It meant delving into that which makes us uncomfortable. We looked at what we are afraid of that might block us from our paths to success.

Today we are going a different route. Today we are looking what in life brings you joy.

Joy

Joy is going to be the thing we chase when things get dark. When we feel like giving up, joy is going to be what motivates us to keep going.

Non-Fiction Recommendation:
I highly recommend
Danielle LaPorte’s books
and her podcast,
With Love

Yes, there is plenty of non-joy-based motivation, such as love. Alice Hoffman, author of Practical Magic, writes regularly of love so intense that it hurts (I highly recommend reading her work), and the things we do for that love. But that love is its own form of joy. Knowing the person you love is doing well, seeing your family thrive, seeing your dog run through the mud having a grand old time are all forms of joy.

Danielle LaPorte in her books The Fire-Starter Sessions and The Desire Map writes about the importance of chasing what feels good. I have made it a regular practice of mine, and I encourage all my writing clients to do the same. This is why I encourage them to celebrate their achievements, however small, and create a list of what feels good to them.

What Feels Good

I used to have a journal that I got while visiting Vancouver. It was red, had different colored pages. And had a little red mushroom with white spots, and a ladybug hugging the mushroom (because it thought the mushroom was another ladybug, and it wasn’t actually hugging per se…). I called this my Book of Things that Makes Me Happy. In it I wrote every little thing that made me smile. It might be song lyrics (I’m pretty certain Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” and “The Significance of a Pickle” were in there), words that you enjoy, a cartoon, a thought, an amusing conversation—whatever.

The purpose of the book was that every time I was feeling down, I could flip through it and smile again.

I think everyone should create their very own Book of Things that Makes Them Feel Good, and I certainly encourage you to do so.

But for now, this exercise is simply to write out at least 10 things that bring you joy.

But don’t stop there. If they keep coming, keep writing them out. They can be family related, work related, nature related, writing related—if it puts a genuine smile on your face then write it down.

Once you have your list, spend some time with it. Look it over. Ask yourself what on this list you can add to your daily or weekly life. How can you bring these joyful experiences into your goals? How can you bring them into your writing?

Remembering to bring joy into what you are working on or what you are doing can be the difference between a horrible day and a wonderful day. It can be the difference between quitting a writing piece and carrying it through to the end.

Be sure to make yourself a List of Things that Make You Happy, and remember to look at it from time to time. It could be what gets you through to the finish line.

Sometimes in life, we become so focused on the finish line
that we fail to find joy in the journey

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 5 Journal Prompt: What Are Your Fears?

What in Life Scares You?

In part of knowing yourself as a writer and as a person, knowing what scares you is a great way of understanding what might act as a block in your life. Of course there are survival fears, such as earthquakes, lightning, being mugged, scorpions, etc. But a lot of times we have fears that have to do with social status, with our families, with our work. These things aren’t survival fears, but culturally constructed fears. In our evolved world where we have less to be morally afraid of, these non-life-threatening fears are just as valid.

Don’t take councel from your Fear

James Faust

Knowing what it is in life that scares you can do two things:

  1. It can inspire your writing, creating writing prompts
  2. It can help you develop more multi-facetted characters
  3. Most importantly, they can serve to block your writing and your path to success.

Fears as Blocks

Especially for writers who are just starting out, there is a lot of fear. Our fears can make or break us. They can work as something to motivate us into action, or they can stop us dead in our tracks by keeping us from starting on our goals, finishing our goals, or even from releasing our goals into the world.

Fear of Commitment Lies Behind the Fear of Writing

Hilary Mantel

Journal Prompt

Spend some time making a list of what scares you. This can be general phobias you have (heights, flying (that’s mine), spiders, trains, fires, etc.) but also the fears that keep you up at night.

Are you afraid of what people will think if they find out you write romance? Are you afraid of what people will think if you tell them that you write at all? Are you afraid to start writing because you think it will take away from your family? Are you afraid to start writing because it might affect your job? Are you afraid of self-publishing because of the costs?

Write down every fear that you can think of and then rank it from worst to not so bad, 1 being the worst.

Spend some time with this list. Spend time journaling and asking yourself what each of these fears is doing to block your path. Are they preventing you from writing? Are they preventing you from finishing your projects? Are they enough to make you give up the idea of writing at all?

For many of the fears you come up with, you’ll find that they either aren’t as big of a deal as you think they are, or they’re an excuse. However, there are of course some that run deep, and you need to spend time working through these fears as well.

Untracable Image credit – Pinned from POPSUGAR, though the post has since been taken down

Unless we are faced with mortal danger, fear does little to serve us in this world. Fear triggers our fight or flight response, and when we’re in a work meeting and afraid, we can do neither, and thus we have to sit with the fear, doing nothing. This can make us sick.

The purpose of today’s journal prompt is to see what fears that aren’t serving you, and to help you begin to consider a plan to dissolve or sidestep that which you are afraid of.

Fear is a prompt not a block.
Writers as me all the time how they can overcome their worst fears. my prescription is always the same: Figure out what you’re most afraid of and write about that. Don’t stop until you’ve put it all on the page. When you use your fear as a prompt it loses its power to block

Bryan Hutchinson, Writer’s Doubt

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.

Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 3 Journal Prompt: What Do you Write?

Dec 3: What do you write?

I know that writers fall into many different placements. Some are bloggers and have every intention of remaining a blogger. Some writers are academic writers, who chase the thrill of the research and findings. Some writers are literary, some are poetic, and some only know that they want to write, but haven’t started on a project yet.

It doesn’t matter where you fall in this spectrum: you are a writer, and you can answer today’s questions.

The Single-Genre Writer

There are many writers who know exactly what they like to write. They like to write horror or romance or fantasy. They indulge in cozy mystery, paranormal action/adventure, westerns, or thrillers.

For those of you who have a specific genre you like to write, ask  yourself why you like to write it. Is it because it’s the genre you like to read? Why? What do you get out of reading this genre? Is it because you enjoy working within the parameters of the genre? Why? What would happen if you broke those parameters?

The Multi-Genre Writer

Some writers write across the board, choosing more than one genre to write in. Maybe you like to write science fiction, horror and romance. Maybe you’re an erotica writer who also has a flair for comical mobster stories.

For those of you who have more than one genre, ask yourself what is the common thread between the genres? What would it look like if you combined all the genres into one story? Do you like keeping them all separate?

And finally, ask yourself why you write in so many directions. There is no wrong answer here, and there is no judgement for the answer. This is purely for you, for your own understanding of yourself and your writing methods.

The Budding Writer

Some of us are aspiring. We know we want to write, that we enjoy actually physically running a writing utensil along paper and seeing the ink flow on the page, or we love the sound of the keyboard. We love the idea of creating stories, or constructing a meaningful book, or we simply know we have something to teach.

But we haven’t necessarily begun to write. That’s alright. We don’t have to have started writing to know what we want to write.

If you don’t know what you write yet, ask yourself what you want to write. And as always, ask yourself Why. Ask yourself at least three times. Truly know yourself.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package. This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 2 Journal Prompt: Why Do You Write?

Why Do You Write?

Knowing why you write is an important aspect of being a writer. When you know why you write, then you know the motivation behind getting you out of bed in the morning and wanting to put pen to paper.

However, not all of us know why it is that we want to write. This is why it comes after the question of who we are. The more we understand our motives, the more we’re able to harness our drive and make it work to our advantage.

Are you writing because it’s a form of creative expression? Because you just have a great idea for a story you want to read but haven’t come across? Are you writing because you just need to, but you don’t know why?

Really explore your Why.

For some people, they feel that writing is a way of earning money. If that’s you, ask yourself if that’s enough? Sure we go to our day jobs every day whether we like it or not to earn money, but writing is a whole different beast. It’s not just writing to make a few dollars, but it’s investing with the goal of making money. You’re investing your time, your focus, your energy, and then on top of it you’re investing yourself in marketing, editors, cover design, travel costs, software, etc. It can be draining if that is the only reason you’re writing.

Whatever you come up with, challenge it. Ask yourself Why, at least three times with your answer.

Why Do I Write?
I write because I need to get my ideas down
Why?
I need to get my ideas down because they’re important to me.
Why?
My ideas are important to me because they are an extension of me.
Why is that important?
Because I have a story that I believe will help other people, or, at the very least, will be a contribution to the understanding of what makes a person a person. Thus extending empathy and compassion.

Whatever your reason, challenge it. Really get to the root of why it is you write. You might find that there is something deep in you waiting to come out, and that will only propel you forward toward your writing goals.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package. This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 1 Journal Prompt: Who Are You?

Knowing who you are is a huge thing. This will determine how you write, what you like to write about, where you stand on issues that might come up with your writing, and eventually, how you wan to market yourself.

Getting to know your deeps desires, your core wants, your needs, and what makes you tick is essential to building yourself as an artist.

That beings said, it’s alright not to know. You don’t have to know who you are in order to create. Being an artist, no matter what kind of artist, is how you explore yourself, challenge and express your emotions and ideas.

So while you’re answering this question, you might start by looking at yourself from the outside. Ask yourself these questions:

  • This is how I look to the stranger on the street
  • This is how I look to my neighbor
  • This is how my family/friends see me
  • This is how my boss sees me

Then look at each of these answers and challenge them. Are they right? Are they wrong? What are they missing?

Don’t allow your personal feelings and thoughts about yourself get in the way of answering these questions. Be real with yourself. This is an exercise to look beyond any wounds we have, and try and see what it is that we represent.

When you get clear with yourself on who you are, or at least have a page of “I Don’t Know”, the ask yourself how you feel about the answers you came up with. Is there anything on the page you want to change?

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.

Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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