What’s YOUR Story?

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Try This, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

It’s Never Too Late

janav Creativity, Productivity, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Intentions for the New Year

janav Creativity, Productivity, Try This, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Gift Ideas for Writers and Creatives

janav Creativity, Friday Favorites, Resources, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Creativity, Gratitude, and Abundance

janav Creativity, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Friday Favorites: Interviews That Inspire

janav Creativity, Friday Favorites, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

The Long Game of Overnight Success

janav Creativity, Productivity, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Mental Mastery: The Art of Dealing With No

janav Creativity, Productivity, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Do You Spend Your Time Mindfully?

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m not talking about the ones you’re writing. I’m talking about the ones you’re thinking, the ones that have become such a part of your life and belief system that you no longer even think to question them. They are “what is.” End of story, as it were. They’re not a problem in and of themselves, but if they are holding us back from doing our best and most fulfilling creative work in the present, it’s time to take a good hard look at them to see if we can move beyond them.

We all have them. Usually they are based on events that happened to us, or things people said to us, so long ago we may not even remember exactly who or when or what. But we internalized a belief because of it, and that belief hardened into a story that we tell ourselves again and again. Sometimes it’s not one event, but a series of experiences that harden into steadfast beliefs, that then become stories.

The thing is, many of these stories are based on fears. Writers who have yet to be published for example, may have the sneaking suspicion that “If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it never will. Maybe it’s not meant to. Maybe I should be doing something else…” (Yeah, this example is from my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.)

Notice what that does to your energy. It’s like an anti-energy torpedo, sinking any desire to do anything toward your goals. Why try, if it’s not going to happen anyway? Oh, sure, you might put in some hours here or there, but it won’t be purposeful action, with energy and intention behind it. It’ll be half-assed in some way, because you’re second-guessing the chance of success to begin with. It’s like tying a horse’s back legs together, saying, “He probably won’t win the race,” and then trying to make him run it anyway.

Another: “It’s hard, and only a few achieve success, and only a long slog of hard work will make it happen - maybe.” Discouragement sets in. You can hardly comprehend there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone see it. This is where you need to turn it around and say “I get to…” instead of “I have to…” I get to write today. I get to research the next round of agents. This is where you instill the belief that baby steps, taken each day, will add up to something big. Then that becomes your story: “I am someone who works steadily and consistently toward my goals.”

A bigger story may stem from an event or person in your past that sowed the seeds of doubt in yourself. Someone your admired wasn’t impressed with your work, or said maybe you didn’t have what it takes. (Again, one of mine!) And as I was writing this, I realized I don’t even remember the name of this teacher from twenty years ago. So why does her opinion of my work then, matter to me now? Sometimes dragging the story into the light of consciousness enables you to see it for what it is: a shadow, a mirage, that does not need to define you in the present.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to become aware of the beliefs and stories you tell yourself, that may be holding you back from fully committing to doing your best work. It may be difficult to identify them if you sit down and try to do it head-on (but you may be surprised by what you come up with). You can start to recognize them when they arise in your mind, and try to turn them around. Ask yourself if that belief is really true. Why, or why not? What is the payoff for continuing to believe it? Be honest. Does it keep you in fear? Does it let you off the hook for not really trying? Have you outgrown it, but don’t have a new story in its place?

What different belief can you start to tell yourself, even if it doesn’t feel fully true yet? Let that become your story. It takes practice and commitment, but will pay huge dividends in terms of happiness, energy, and motivation. The stories we tell ourselves do help define our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, so consciously choosing your story gives you powerful agency to move beyond the past and do your best work in the present.

What beliefs or stories do you have around:

  • Your own writing or other creative work?
  • Creativity in general?
  • Work in general?
  • Publishing, or otherwise putting your work into the world?
  • Money?
  • Happiness?

Try This: A Week Without Technology

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Try This, Writing Leave a Comment

In Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she asks people to refrain from reading for one week. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, and I find most people who come to that task of that chapter don’t try very hard, or at all, to do it.

However, reading this article in The Guardian: “‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia,” made me think again about the power of technology and social media in our lives, and how ubiquitous – and addictive – it is.

When Julia Cameron originally wrote The Artist’s Way, the internet as we know it didn’t exist. Social media didn’t exist. Smartphones (cell phones) didn’t exist. Sure, there were computer and video games, but they didn’t exist in the amount or quality they do now. In other words, we operated in a world of fewer distractions based on instant gratification and ultra-connectivity. Plenty of people have written about the Age of Distraction and what it might be doing to our brains, our intelligence, and our creativity (I wrote about it back in July) but I imagine most of us nod, sigh, and click to the next thing. What are you gonna do?

Well, in the spirit of Julia, I’m going to propose A Week Without Technology. Well, within some guidelines: you can use a computer if you need it to work a paid job, and you only use it for the designated tasks of that job. You can use a cell phone if you don’t have a landline, or if you only use it for a specific call/text connection (i.e. to set up a time to meet someone). That’s it. If you’re a writer, write longhand, using pen and paper. (Yep, even if you’re editing. Just try it.) No social media, no email not directly related to your paid employment, no web surfing or blog-checking, no video games (not even computer solitaire). If you read, try making it an actual printed book. Do whatever you have to do to make it happen, using whatever blocking apps you need to. If you can shut your home computer down and put it out of sight, do so. Same with your cell phone, your IPad, or other devices that lure you into the endless time-wasting, addictive labyrinth.

Journal about how you feel. Is it difficult? In what ways, specifically? What are you doing instead? Do you suddenly have more time on your hands? Do you have more energy? More anxiety, or less? How do you feel, physically and mentally? Most importantly, did you spend more time on your writing, or other creative pursuits?

Remember this isn’t a punishment, it’s an experiment: how addicted are you? How many hours do you typically spend on devices? It’s only a week: can you get through it? What changes might you decide to make in your life? Join me, Monday Oct. 9 through Sunday Oct. 15. I’ll write my notes in my journal, and post them here when we’re done. I’ve done this before, but only in places where I didn’t have internet access or cell service. When I got back home, I always jumped right back into my old habits. This time I want to be more mindful of technology’s impact on my everyday life – especially my creative life. If you want to join me, let me know in the comments or at jana(at)janavanderveer(dot)com!