The Only Reason You’re “Time Poor” Is Because You’re NOT Doing What Matters

There was a point in my writing life where I made way more excuses than I did put words on the page. Back then, I used to say, “I don’t have time” on a regular basis. I was working a full-time day job and trying to run a blog and write books and maintain a personal life. 

It was a lot to fit in.

So I’d constantly find myself saying, “I don’t have time” or “there’s not enough time in the day” or [insert whatever other time excuse you can make]. But then one day a thought hit me…

What if “I don’t have time” and “there’s not enough time in the day” are just limiting beliefs that have been programmed into me… and I can choose to create new beliefs around time?

So I started writing in my journal every day: I am productive as fuck today. I bend the fuck out of time today. 

I’ve now instilled beliefs in myself that there’s always plenty of time for everything I need to do, and I can bend time at will. And funnily enough this has become true for me.

My productivity is at an all-time high right now, and it gets better and better every day.

I can now intend that I will bend the fuck out of time for the next 30 minutes or whatever, and somehow I always manage to get everything I need to done in that time. 

Why? 

Because time is an illusion. Einstein proved it. So that means you get to decide how time feels for you. 

You know when you go to work on a slow day and time seems to drag on? Eight hours feels like 20 and when you finally get to leave at the end of the day you’re spent. But then when you go on vacation to your favorite beach resort, the week flies by faster than you can blink.

That’s a perfect example of time feeling different based on the situation. But you can change the way time feels at any point during that work day or that vacation. 

You can choose to live in the moment on your vacation and savor every little second of the day and fit in as much living as possible. Suddenly it feels like enough. You can choose to take advantage of your work time and work on something you’ve been wanting to work on, but didn’t have time for, and suddenly your day flies by. 

You can make it feel like you have time abundance. 

And here’s the other thing about time abundance: it will always feel like you don’t have enough when you’re not doing what matters every day.

When I look back at the years of my life where I felt like I didn’t have enough time in my day, it was the years when I wasn’t doing what actually mattered each day. I was putting the things that mattered off to do all these other things—a lot of which I didn’t really want to do. 

But as soon as I started doing what matters every single day and doing it first, before I do anything else, suddenly I had all the time in the world. Suddenly by dedicating 1-2 hours of my morning to what matters, my entire day opened up. 

And because what I really wanted to be doing—journaling, writing, creating—was finished early in my day, my mind was free for the rest of the day.

When I wasn’t doing what matters, I’d find myself thinking about my writing or my stories all day long. But when I sit down and do my writing and work on my fiction first thing in the morning and get it done, then I’m not thinking about it all day long, which gives me free mental space for other things that need to get done.

Sure, my story may stay on my mind as I go through my day, but I’m not feeling resentful that I’m having to be doing other things, because I’ve already done what matters.

Time abundance comes from doing what matters, doing it daily, and doing it first things first. 

Action Steps

Here’s what to do next…

1. Figure out what old, limiting beliefs you have about time (there’s not enough, etc), and then flip them into new beliefs that will allow you to feel differently about time (There’s plenty of time for everything that matters” etc).

2. Start doing what matters, every day, first things first. It will change your life, I promise you. 

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. I get it now. I saw this light around doing what matters a year ago around this same time, but somehow managed to forget and get lost again. But thankfully it came back to me, and this time around I’m holding on to it and creating the discipline and habits that I need to have to turn it into a daily thing. 

I’m now fully, 150% committed to doing what matters, every day, before I do anything else. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be a year from now!! 

Want to join me in doing what matters, every day and doing it first? Stay tuned! Doors to the Bestselling Author Mastermind are opening soon!! And since it’s the one-year anniversary of the group, I’m doing some MAJOR celebration bonuses, including a workshop that will kick your ass into finally making your writing a priority. 

BAM is a high-level community and mentorship for writers who want to create the habits, mindset, consistency and follow-through of a bestselling author. You get insanely awesome tools and resources every month to help with whatever stage you’re at in your writing journey, plus we do 3x weekly work sessions where we meet up virtually and work on our writing projects together. 

There will be a bonus for anyone who signs up that was on the waitlist, so get on the waitlist here: www.jenniferblanchard.net/mastermind 

How To Navigate An Episode of Writer’s Block

This is a guest post from David Villalva of StoryandCraft.net 

I look like a rabid beast when I dance.

My legs twitch. Elbows fly. Hips don’t lie.

What’s crazy is that I actually feel the music. Unfortunately, my feeling translates into body movement that could hurt someone. Enter the dance floor at your own risk.

Also, I look stupid dancing. I hate looking stupid. So I don’t dance anymore. Never loved it. Don’t miss it.

But get this, my writing looks really stupid sometimes. Except I could never give it up. I’d miss it too much.

I love writing. I get to create new worlds and people. I love rearranging words, even punctuation. Yep, I’m a writing geek.

Maybe you’re a writing geek, too?

If that’s the case, why do we still get stuck with Writer’s Block?

Mind Games

If you’ve never experienced Writer’s Block, drop a comment below and tell me how your prevented it. I’m not kidding, I need your counsel.

For all others, you’re not alone when your creativity hits this road block.

Ever sat down for butt-in-chair time, fired up your computer and experienced any of this:

  • Just stared at a blank screen?
  • Wrote several sentences, but immediately deleted them all?
  • Suddenly decided to search the Internet for just one important thing?
  • Re-read previous writing, only to reinforce the Writer’s Block?

Writer’s Block deserves an immunization every few weeks. You can find plenty of cures out there with a quick Google search.

Common Cures:

There are many more out there and they contain great advice. But I suggest we need to know exactly what we’re curing before applying these prescriptions.

Why do we still get stuck when we have all these resources so quickly available? What does Writer’s Block stem from?

The Underlying Cause of Writer’s Block

For most people, Writer’s Block blossoms from one initial thing — Fear. This whole creative writing thing is a major head game.

The fear is there to try and keep you safe. It often manifests itself with these questions:

  • What if I can’t translate my ideas onto the page?
  • What if I get them onto the screen, but my writing looks like David’s dancing?
  • What if people read my creation, and hate it?
  • What if my newest stuff doesn’t live up to previous writing?
  • What if I can never write as good as published authors?

Our doubts lead us to lose confidence in our ability to produce new artwork. Most storytellers want their writing to connect with people. But if we can’t connect with our own writing, how will it ever connect with others?

Dance With the Fear

Seth Godin said we need to learn how to “dance with the fear.” That doesn’t mean you must accept that your writing will suck. I’m also not telling you to just get over it.

I’m encouraging you to embrace the fear, and dance with it. Even when it makes you look stupid. Or really stupid.

I stopped writing several times while creating this very article. I paused to ask myself:

  • Does anyone really care about the words I’m writing?
  • Am I the only one who feels this way?
  • Will I look stupid?

I believe the fear is confirmation that we’re creating something worth stressing about.

You know that creating something new allows it be judged someday. People may point at it. Call it names. Laugh at it. That’s scary as hell.

But assuming you love to create like I do, there’s really no other choice.

You must continue to create with the fear at your side, knowing that it wants you to stop. Because it knows your creation could become something some day.

Something people may point at with pride. Calling it artwork. Smiling with it.

That’s worth dancing for.

So acknowledge fears existence and continue to create when it gets in your head.

I recognize it’s easier to say and hear than actually process and implement. But it needs to be said and heard more often. I wish someone would have screamed it louder when I began my writing journey.

It Never Ends

Some people may interpret this approach as empowering our insecurities. I look at it as a coexistence.

The fear will likely remain no matter what so why not bear-hug it before it drop-kicks you in the Spacebars?

Moving forward, I’m hoping you know where to look first when Writer’s Block hits. Don’t look for an Internet free writing app or a better playlist. Look inside the Why?

The fear can’t be killed forever so I recommend you agree to (slow) dance with it. Then go through the fire by writing and creating something (even if it looks stupid).

Just know that I won’t call it stupid. Nope, not me. Because even I’m dancing again.

The next time you experience Writer’s Block, put on your protective dancing gear and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I not writing because of an unproductive fear-based thought?
  2. Am I committed to dancing with the fear and going through the fire?
  3. Can I continue by writing something today, even if it looks stupid?

Share With Us

How do you dance with your fears?

 About the Author: David Villalva supports aspiring, structured novelists by sharing visual   blueprints, case studies and articles. His eBook, The Storytelling Blueprint, illustrates the plot formula used in Bestselling novels. Get it for free at: http://storyandcraft.net/

Main image courtesy of Andrew Smith

How To Be Creative On Command

What does it mean to be ‘creative on command?’ To me, it means being able to turn your creativity on like a light switch; whenever you need it, it’s there. You always have direct access to your muse.

Now many people don’t consider themselves creative. But creativity is innate, which means it lives inside of all of us.

The only difference between people who are super creative and people who say they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies, is the super creative people made their creativity intentional, by putting a focus on it and being deliberate about it.

How Creative On Command Came About

Back in 2008, I was a few years out of college and I just really wanted to be the writer that I had dreamed of being for such a long time. And no matter how hard I tried, nothing was working. I felt stuck all the time, I felt blocked. I would basically wake up in the morning and tell myself, “I’m going to write today; today’s going to be the day I start that book I keep talking about.”

And then I would go through my whole day, and the end of the day comes and there I am feeling guilty because I didn’t write. Berating myself and saying, “I’m never going to make this happen.”

I had to figure out what was going on, because I kept asking myself–why am I stuck all the time?

So I really started digging into it and looking at what could be stopping me or what could be blocking me. And all different things came up—things you would not even think of! Like procrastination, fear, negative thoughts, poor eating habits, not exercising.

All of these things are basically what I’ve come to call my Creative on Command philosophy.

There are things that you can do to make it so that your creativity is always flowing and always available to you.

What’s Stopping You Right Now

You may be wondering, “Why am I not creative on command right now? What’s stopping me?” And to that I would say the number one thing that stops you from having direct access to your creative muse is: junk.

Junk foods, junk thoughts, junk habits Junk will prevent you from accessing your creativity whenever you want to.

As a creative being, what you eat, what you tell yourself, and the things you do every single day–those are the things that are going to make or break your creative process. All of those things have profound effects on you.

You are the core source of your creativity, which means you have to nourish that part of yourself if you want to be Creative on Command, if you want to have the energy that you need to be creative. You have to think about yourself:

  • What are you feeding yourself?
  • What are you telling yourself?
  • What habits do you have that hinder your creativity?

You want to make sure you’re doing things that are going to fuel your creativity and your energy, and not take away from it. So when you’re feeling creatively blocked or stuck, it likely means that you’re not nourishing yourself, your body or your creativity, the way that you should be.

Creativity is a basic skill that we all have, but it’s very easy to get blocked because there’s so much junk in our lives, both internally and externally. Not only can things like what you eat and what you tell yourself block you, but also external things like stress, your job, the people around you driving you crazy—all of these things can tie into making you feel stuck.

Be Creative On Command In 3 Simple Steps

I have a three-step process for getting you unblocked and starting to  nourish your creativity. The three steps are:

  1. Clear the clutter
  2. Marinate on it (and get inspired)
  3. Jump-start yourself

Step One: Clear the Clutter

You need to find ways to de-junk yourself. This is how you’re going to have more access to your creativity—getting rid of the junk. You can do this by:

  • Eating healthy—feeding yourself foods that nourish your body and your mind
  • Moving your body more—being a couch potato is going to cause your energy to feel stagnant. So do activities where you can move your body.

    It doesn’t always have to be going to the gym for 30 minutes. It could be taking a walk, dancing, doing an exercise video. Or it could be chasing your kid around the playground for 30 minutes. Something that’s going to get you moving.

    Bodies are made to move and energy that flows is energy that moves.

  • Clearing the mind noise–tools like morning pages, meditations and journaling can really help you to get control of your thoughts so they stop running wild with negativity. Once the ‘ick’ is gone, you’ll have more direct access to your creative muse and your inspiration.

    Because the stuff that blocks you–that gets in your way of actually hearing the creative ideas and hearing the messages that are inside you–it’s all gone.

Step Two: Marinate On It (And Get Inspired)

Kind of like marinating meat, creative ideas get better with time. Your ideas need marination time.

So take a break every now and then. Take a walk, play, have fun, observe. Really find ways to let your ideas have the space that they need to incubate and grow into bigger and more fully developed creative projects.

Doing this will fill your idea well.

If you want to be Creative on Command–to be able to have an idea as soon as you need it; a problem arises and you can solve it immediately, or someone asks you for an idea and automatically you have an answer–the way to do that is to make sure your creative well is always full.

And that means giving back to yourself. It means taking time to take care of yourself. It means playing, relaxing, having fun, doing things that are going to feed the different parts of yourself that you need to nourish so your creative part comes alive.

Step Three: Jump-Start Yourself

It can be hard to sit down and immediately get into a writing session. A lot of times you’re coming from work, you’re tired, maybe you just had dinner with the family and you’re feeling a little exhausted or had a long day, you have a lot of things on your mind, whatever. It’s very hard to go from that space to writing.

The easy thing to do is to just say, “I’m not going to do it. I’m going to skip today; I’m not going to write.”

But the better thing to do is to jump-start yourself, because a simple jump-start can be enough of a spark to get you thinking in that creative way you need for your writing session (or whatever creative session you’re going to have).

You can easily jump-start yourself by using a writing exercise.

An example can be: write about your first day of school. You had a first day of school experience—what was it like? What did it sound like, what did it look like, what was it like? What did you experience? Write about that for 10 minutes.

Doing this will get you in a thinking and creating mindset, and it will also get you in a writing mindset. Which then makes it easy to jump from the exercise right into your writing session. You’re already in a flow, you’re already being creative, so you can keep that momentum going.

An Exercise

Now you’re going to do a little brainstorming.

I’ve shared a lot of ideas in this article for ways you can move yourself toward being more Creative on Command. Take two minutes and brainstorm a list of all the things you think you could do right now to start nourishing yourself and your creativity more. Whatever ideas came to you while reading this article, write them down.

Don’t judge any of the ideas, just make a list.

Now look at your list, and circle one or two things that you want to try this week. This is going to be your action plan for becoming creative on command.

Using your list, every week pick one or two items off of it, or every couple weeks, whatever feels right for you. Try to add them into your life.

Creative On Command: The Book

If you want to learn more about how you can be creative on command, grab a copy of my book–Creative On Command: Instant Inspiration Exactly When You Need It.

Image courtesy of Denise Krebs

How A Tragedy Inspired Me To Hit “Publish”

One year ago today, I lost someone who meant a lot to me—my business mentor, Jeff Newland. A man who was as kind as he was inspiring. He was the first person who made me feel like I could create value for other people by focusing on doing the things I love.

At the time I was working on my new book—a project I’d had in mind for awhile, but hadn’t finished. I was almost a month past the initial launch date, because I just didn’t have the confidence to put it out there.

The month was winding down and I knew it was time to step up, finish the book and publish it. Then tragedy struck.

Jeff was found, shot dead in a corn field.

My world came to a halt. Everything I was doing no longer had meaning. All the projects I was working on I didn’t care about anymore.

Except my book. But I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

So I let it sit on my computer, collecting virtual dust.

Then a few months ago a thought occurred to me—if Jeff was still here, he’d be yelling at me for not having finished and published my book.

And so I finished it.

Creativity-on-Command-v5-1-2Creative On Command: Instant Inspiration Exactly When You Need It

In honor of my late mentor, today I’m so excited to share that my new book is now available on Kindle! 

Let’s get something straight—this book is different than other books on creativity and writer’s block you may have read. The foundational belief in this book is that creative energy comes from within, and that when you nourish yourself and your creativity, you’ll be unstoppable as a writer.

If you’re finding yourself blocked or looking for ways to squeeze out some more creativity, I would recommend this book.”—J.J. Heiney

It’s easy to believe all the advice out there about how you have to “find the time of day that you’re most creative” or “skip your writing session when you’re feeling blocked.” But that’s a bunch of hooey.

There is absolutely a way for you to have direct access to your creative well at all times, and to turn your creativity on instantly, whenever you need it.

This guide will help you become creative on command, by revealing:

  • How to eat for the things writers need most—energy, clarity and focus
  • The movement you can do to get unstuck and into a creative flow
  • Routines you can create to nourish your creativity daily

>> Grab Your Copy of Creative On Command

“This book helped me see creativity in a whole new light. My writing is significantly better because of it.”Heather R.

How To Access Your Creativity On-Demand

So you finally did it. You’ve freed up time in your schedule for writing. Except now you’re stuck.

Every time you sit down to put words on the page, a million other things become so much more important—cleaning the house, decluttering, watching TV. You find yourself saying:

  • I’m too tired
  • I have other things to do
  • I’m out of ideas
  • I’m too stressed
  • I have no focus

You think you’re blocked, but those are just excuses. And there’s a lot more to it than that.

A lot of times, what’s really keeping you stuck is you’re not doing two important things:

  1. Nourishing yourself
  2. Nourishing your creativity

You were born a creative being—we all were—but somewhere along the line, you lost connection to that innate creativity, the kind you can turn on whenever you want.

Nourishing Yourself

You are the core source of your creativity, which means you need to nourish yourself and fuel your body with things that are good for you.

Start by looking at your food. Are you eating a balanced diet or are you eating junk all the time?

What you eat determines how you’re going to feel every day—tired, rundown and lethargic or energized, clear and focused. The choice is yours.

Don’t believe that food changes everything? Just take a look at the word Creativity—it has ‘eat’ right in it.

When you’re fueling your body with the right foods, you’ll feel great and you’ll have what you need to put words on the page. No more feeling blocked.

To get started nourishing yourself, here are some things you can do:

  • Eat Breakfast—this one meal sets up your entire day
  • Carry Power Snacks—things like nuts or fruit make an easy snack that will keep you feeling energized
  • Get Rid of the Junk—remove processed foods from your diet, all they do is junk up your creative juices

Nourishing Your Creativity

Being able to access your creativity whenever you want also requires you to spend time nourishing the creative part of yourself. When you build creativity into your daily life, it will make it easy to be instantly creative.

The only difference between a person who’s super creative and a person who feels like she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body is this: the super creative person has made being creative a habit. You can do the same thing.

When you’re in the habit of creativity, it will come as naturally to you as breathing. And then when you have a problem to solve, need an idea or are looking for inspiration, it will be right at your fingertips.

Here are some things you can do to nourish your creativity:

  • Maintain A Creative Practice—the more regularly you use your creativity, the more it will become second nature to you
  • Morning Pages—created by Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are three hand-written, stream-of-consciousness pages you write first thing in the morning before you do anything else. This practice will help unblock you so your creativity can flow freely
  • Add In Some Self-Care—sleep, sex, taking a bubble bath, watching a movie, laughing … anything that makes you feel awesome counts as self-care. When you add self-care into your life, you’ll fill your creative well to the tippy top so it’s always ready to spill over.

When you combine nourishing yourself with nourishing your creativity, you’ll unlock the door to being creative on command.

Image courtesy of Tanya

How Do You Want To Feel About Your Writing?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive,”–Howard Thurman

Every year around this time you likely jump into making New Year’s goals and resolutionswrite more often. Finish (or start) the novel draft that’s been in the works for years. Make writing a priority… The list goes on.

And I’d be willing to be a lot of those goals and resolutions are pretty much the same ones you made last year, and the year before, and the year before… Are you sensing a pattern?

Every year you set goals and make resolutions to try and fix things that you think are broken about yourself and your life. But the thing is, this system is flawed.

Very flawed.

Setting goals and making resolutions do nothing but make you feel bad about yourself and your progress. Because you’re trying to fix something that’s really not broken.

And then when the end of the year comes and you haven’t made your goals happen, you feel like a complete failure, and like you’ll never make it happen.

Then you’ll start questioning everything–maybe I’m not meant to write a novel; maybe I’m not cut out to be a writer; maybe I’m not good enough… 

Maybe you even feel like quitting altogether.

But before you do, read this:

Flaws In The System

The reason you set and chase a goal is because you believe that achieving it will make you feel a certain way. But often that’s not the case at all.

And if you do finally reach the goal, you can’t even fully enjoy or appreciate it–because you’re too burned out from chasing it for so long. Or, even worse, reaching the goal doesn’t end up making you feel the way you thought it would all along.

Stay with me here for a minute and really think about this… what is the point of setting a goal to achieve something that will help you feel a certain way, when the entire time you’re chasing the goal you’re feeling like shit? 

So often in life you tell yourself that if you can just reach this goal you’ll be happy, or if you can just write your novel you’ll be a real writer, or if you just XYZ, then you’ll… Stop right there.

This system is majorly flawed, because it puts all the eggs in the basket of achieving a specific goal, so if you don’t achieve it you’ll never feel the way you want to feel, and if you do achieve it you won’t enjoy it because you’ll already be moving on to the next goal.

This system puts everything into the end result… and that’s a total flaw.

Because what really matters in life isn’t always the destination, it’s the journey. And if you’re not enjoying your journey, then you’re definitely not going to enjoy the end result.

How Do You Want To Feel?

Instead of chasing the same damn writing goals as usual, what if this year you tried something totally different? What if you figured out how you want to feel, and then aligned yourself with writing activities that make you feel this way? 

For example: you decide that you want to feel “joy.” Then you take a look at your current writing goals and realize that the idea of writing a blog post once a week makes your skin crawl… but writing fiction, especially short stories, makes you come alive. Boom! Give up blogging and focus on fiction. Joy in the making.

Yes, it really is that simple.

There’s an amazing book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, and it’s all about figuring out how you want to feel FIRST and then aligning those feelings with the activities you take on and goals you set for yourself.

While working through The Desire Map, I discovered that one of my Core Desired Feelings is: badass. Once I had that figured out, then I could start determining how to create my year.

I knew right away that several freelance projects on my plate had to go away, because they did not make me feel badass. I also knew that I had to finally take on finishing (and launching) my debut novel. I’d been putting it off for a really long time, but now I realize that goal lights me up and makes me feel like a total badass.

Already my year is heading in an amazing direction, because I know exactly how I want to feel and I’m able to align activities and intentions with those feelings.

For example, I’ve discovered that having cool nail polish and wearing a fancy cocktail ring make me feel more badass when I’m writing (while plain nails and no ring don’t elicit any badass feelings). Now I’m getting manicures twice a month, and wearing a cocktail ring every day. Already when I sit down to a writing session I feel way more badass than I did before.

Make sense?

You align how you want to feel about your writing with the activities that make you feel this way. You may even be surprised by which activities cause you to feel a certain way, and which ones don’t.

This year, I invite you to take on the Desire Map process, and really allow yourself to figure out how you want to feel. And then (and this is the hardest part), give yourself permission to do the things that make you feel the way you want to feel.

As Danielle says, “Feeling good is the whole point.”

Share With Us

How do you want to feel about your writing this year? Share your Core Desired Feelings in the comments below. 

Image courtesy of Robert D. Brooks and Rossina Bossio 

Are You Suffering From Almost Done Syndrome?

I don’t know if I told you yet or not, but I’ve been working on a new eBook for the last few months. It’s an idea that’s been in the works for about a year, and I am finally thisclose to being done with it.

The problem is, I’ve been procrastinating.

My initial launch date was September 24, but September came and, truth be told, I hadn’t even started the rewrites yet.

So I came up with a new launch date–October 22. Which was yesterday.

And the book is still not done.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to show you that, even though I’m a professional writer and published author, I’m still human. I still struggle with procrastination, just like you do. I still have doubts and fears that overwhelm me, and keep me doing avoidance behaviors.

I am not perfect, and I’m never gonna be.

I used to be afraid of not being perfect. I used to think I had to be, that my writing had to be, if I was gonna put it out there.

But now I see that imperfection is a beautiful part of the human condition. It’s who we are.

If we never made mistakes, then we’d never have opportunities to grow and to better ourselves. The same goes for your writing.

If you never put yourself out there; if you never finish anything; then you’ll never know what it’s like to have success. You’ll never experience the joy of seeing your words in print, and the love you feel when your writing changes someone’s life.

To quote one of my spiritual mentors:

Every masterpiece that’s ever been done, it could’ve been better. Just launch and learn.”–Danielle LaPorte

If you have a project you’ve been working on for awhile–or putting off working on–chances are you’re suffering from what I call “Almost Done” Syndrome.

“Almost Done” Syndrome is when you’re thisclose to being finished with the final version of a writing project, and then suddenly you start procrastinating and put off finishing it.

Been there, done that.

What about you?

We All Suffer From “Almost Done” Syndrome

The good news is that “Almost Done” Syndrome is something all creators suffer with from time-to-time. This is especially true when you’re working on something that is extremely close and personal to you (as this book I’ve been working on for the last year is to me).

The reason you’ve never heard about this syndrome before today is because most people never talk about it. Most people who’ve launched something don’t want to share the truth. They want to cover it up with the false idea that everything is roses.

I call bullshit on that.

I’d be lying if I pretended like everything I’ve created has been amazing and that the process from start to finish was simple.

The truth is, finishing a book is fucking hard! It’s an emotional roller coaster. It’s a process that tests everything you’ve got in you.

I’ve wanted to quit so many times during the process of writing my new book. But I didn’t. I did procrastinate and complain, but I didn’t give up.

Because I know I’m meant to write this book. I know that this book is meant to be one of my gift’s to the world.

And that’s what’s kept me pushing forward, slogging through all the doubt and fear. So I can launch a book that I am proud of; that I want people to read and share with others.

Almost Done Syndrome–What’s Beneath the Surface

On the surface, Almost Done Syndrome looks like:

  • Procrastination
  • Excuses
  • “Reasons”
  • Thoughts of giving up or quitting
  • Doubt

But hiding below these surface symptoms is the true cause of Almost Done Syndrome…

FEAR.

Fear is the underlying cause of all the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Now the good news is fear is perfectly normal. It’s something everyone who has ever created and launched anything has felt.

Again I share words of wisdom from LaPorte:

Respect your fear. It’s part of the creative process,”–Danielle LaPorte

You have to know that anything worth doing in your life is going to first be met with resistance. Resistance is fear’s way of trying to keep you safely in your comfort zone.

It’s your job to bust through that resistance. To feel the fear and do it anyway!

Healing Almost Done Syndrome

Healing Almost Done Syndrome is an inside job, meaning it can only be resolved by looking internally and finding the strength to carry on.

Here’s my process for busting through fear and continuing on with your writing project:

  1. Realize You’ve Got the Bug–the hardest part is finally realizing and accepting that you’ve been suffering from Almost Done Syndrome. Once you do that, the rest is easy.
  2. Feel the Fear–Almost Done Syndrome is a sickness of avoidance. Right now you’re avoiding the fear you’re feeling by not finishing your project. You have to stop resisting and instead just let the fear be there. Wallow in it. Feel it ’til your fingers get pruney and you don’t think you can take anymore.
  3. Acknowledge the Fear--admit that you’re afraid. Tell the fear you see it and you know it’s there. Acknowledging fear takes away its power.
  4. Take A Deep Breath–hold the breath for a few seconds, then let it out slowly. Repeat two or three times.
  5. Let It Go–now that you’ve felt the fear, you can push through and do it anyway. Fear has no power over you or your life if you don’t let it. Choose to rise above the fear.
  6. Remember Your Why–when you’re feeling afraid, doubtful, like you want to quit, just remind yourself why you started this project in the first place. What was your intention? Why did you want to write these words? When your “why” is big enough, there’s no space for fear.
  7. Do It Anyway–take another deep breath if you need to, then move forward and begin working on your project again.

Repeat this process anytime you get stuck and feel like quitting.

Share With Us

What writing project are you suffering from Almost Done Syndrome on? What’s holding you back? 

Image Courtesy of Daphne Depasse

Morning Pages Experiment: One Year Later

morningpagesAbout a year ago, I wrote a post called, Morning Pages: Results From My Two-Week Experiment. Since then, the experiment has really been taken to a new level.

In case you don’t already know what they are, Morning Pages are three hand-written, stream-of-consciousness pages you write every day when you wake up before you do anything else.

Created by writer and creativity teacher, Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are one of the most simple and effective creative unblocking tools I’ve come across (and believe me, I’ve done the legwork).

Morning Pages: Why Do Them In The First Place?
My interest was piqued in Morning Pages after reading The Artist’s Way (and then later reading The Writing Diet). Could hand-writing three pages first thing every day really make that big of a difference?

Turns out, yeah, it can. The results from my two-week experiment speak for themselves:

  • A much more positive attitude
  • Fewer complaints
  • A clearer, more focused mind
  • The unclogging of my entire life, which allowed my creativity to flourish

(To see the rest of the results, read this post.)

While these results probably sound too good to be true, I promise you they’re not. And although everyone’s results will be different, they will all be similar in the fact that your creativity will be unblocked.

But what happens if you’re writing your Morning Pages and then suddenly you stop? How will that change things for you?

Well… I experimented with that too.

Quitting Morning Pages
About four months into writing my Morning Pages every single day, I just stopped. I was way too tired to continue waking up ten minutes early to write my Pages anymore.

Plus I was making excuses for why they really didn’t matter anyhow.

So I went, I’d say about two months, without writing a single Morning Page. What happened was pretty crazy. (And hopefully you don’t have to experience the same thing I did!)

I had a total meltdown in my life. Everything felt wrong. Nothing I was working on felt like it was the right thing to be doing.

I was sick of blogging, sick of writing, sick of thinking about writing all day… sick of it all.

I ended up quitting this blog—for six weeks. I had some amazing guest posters step in and help me while I worked through my meltdown.

I couldn’t figure out why I was having this attack on my creativity. I couldn’t understand why I was writing along with no problem two months prior and now, nothing.

Then I realized what had caused all this drama to unfold: I had quit my Morning Pages.

Starting Morning Pages Again
Immediately after having this realization, I grabbed my old Morning Pages journal and wrote three pages on the spot. I felt much better.

Then the next morning, I got back into my routine of writing them upon waking.

While it is a challenge to get up 10 minutes earlier, the results are worth it (and avoiding the negativity trap I fell into when I stopped writing them is definitely a motivator for me, as well).

What A Year Of Morning Pages Can Teach You
Two days ago, I finished filling up my fourth Morning Pages journal and started a new one. It was a great feeling. I keep all my old journals piled on my bookshelf. It’s a constant reminder of how far I’ve come with my creativity.

I’ve learned so much about myself, as a person and as a writer, from writing Morning Pages for the last year. And I’ve had some of the most amazing ideas and breakthroughs in my life.

But I don’t want to make this all about me, because it’s really all about you.

So I’m going to stop talking about my experience and share with you why I think you need to get moving on writing your Morning Pages (or why you should continue with them or start again if you’ve stopped).

I’d say the biggest reason to write Morning Pages is this: Clarity.

Clarity of focus, clarity in your thoughts, clarity of your goals, clarity of your why, clarity of everything.

I could go on and on with the amazing things that have happened to me over the last year that I directly attribute to writing my Morning Pages.

But that’s not really going to convince you. The only thing that will convince you is trying it for yourself.

This is especially true if you’re someone who uses the excuse “I have ‘writer’s block‘” as your reason for not writing.

If you never listen to another thing I tell you on this blog, listen to this: Morning Pages will support your creative life and rescue it when it feels like it’s drowning.

Share With Us

How do you use your Morning Pages to support your creativity?

Image Courtesy of JulieJordanScott

Please spread the writing love:

Morning Pages: Results From My Two-Week Experiment

By Jennifer Blanchard

Morning Pages are something that have plagued me since I discovered them three years ago.

This exercise in creative-unblocking was created by Julia Cameron, author of the international bestseller, The Artist Way, and is touted as a very effective tool for “overcoming writer’s block.”

I was pretty intrigued by the idea of Morning Pages. I mean, it made sense: Writing three stream-of-consciousness pages every morning upon waking helps you move past the stuff that keeps you stuck (in life and in writing).

Morning Pages have been on my “to-do” list for the last three years.

Then the other day I was reading The Writing Diet (Also by Cameron) and she had so many testimonials of students who used Morning Pages and had amazing results that I decided it was time to give them a try.

My Two-Week Experiment
On March 29, I woke up 15 minutes earlier than I usually did and grabbed my purple notebook. I went into my bedroom closet (so I didn’t wake my boyfriend or dog up) and wrote my Morning Pages. Then I got ready and went to work.

The next day, I did the same thing. And the next day, again, same thing.

On and on for 14 mornings.

And here’s what I discovered:

  • I had a much more positive attitude—By writing out all my complaints first thing in the morning, I no longer carried negativity around. My days were filled with positive energy.
  • I complained a lot less–Complaining to my Morning Pages first thing when I woke up stopped me from clogging my day with complaints.
  • I felt clearer and more focused—My days felt like they started out clear and fresh. I wasn’t carrying ‘baggage’ into my day; I wasn’t muddied up by worries and doubts and anxieties.
  • I was late for work almost every day—Yes, Morning Pages do take time, so if you’re going to attempt them (and I highly recommend that you do), be sure to give yourself at least 15 minutes. I am working on getting up 15 minutes earlier so I’m still on time and can keep up my Morning Pages routine.

My biggest discovery of all, however, was how many ideas and opportunities I attracted!

My Morning Pages literally unclogged my brain and my life. Over the last two weeks, the following things have happened, all of which I attribute to my Morning Pages:

  • I fixed the plot of the story I wrote two years ago and have been trying to revise ever since. For two years I played out scenario after scenario, and nothing worked. There was always a hole somewhere. But last week, I solved the puzzle.
  • I attracted unexpected money—I’ve been trying to attract money for months now, but I was clogged with negativity and focusing on the wrong things. My Morning Pages took away my negativity and helped me focus on what I wanted. Getting unexpected money is sweet.
  • I received a new writing opportunity—I’m trying to start a health coaching business, but I’ve been too scared to put myself out there. By talking about these fears in my Morning Pages, I was able to muster up the courage to e-mail the creator of a Web site I want to write for. Not only did she respond right away, but she loved my idea and said they were looking for someone exactly like me. Now I’m going to be a regular columnist (more details to come!).
  • I received pages and pages of blog post ideas—I’ve had so many blog post ideas (and story ideas for that matter) over the last two weeks I’m going to need an entire notebook for them.
  • I have been eating healthier—I confessed to my Morning Pages that I hadn’t been eating very well the last couple weeks, and that I wanted to get back on track. The more I talked about it in my Morning Pages, the more I wanted to eat healthy food. And the more I wanted to eat healthier, the more I did.
  • I discovered a lot about myself—Morning Pages helped me realize how stressed I’ve been, how unhappy I am at my day job and how badly I want to work for myself. I also discovered that I have a black-or-white mindset (see below for more).
  • I’ve begun giving up my “black and white” mindset—I tend to be an all-or-nothing person; I either do it all the way or I don’t do it at all. Seeing things as distinctly black or white is never a good idea, because there are shades of gray everywhere. So I’m working on giving that up. Morning Pages are helping me immensely with this.

Morning Pages have literally transformed my life in a matter of two weeks. This is definitely one writing routine I can get behind. It’s totally worth being late for.

Interested in Morning Pages? Here are the details:

Morning Pages are three handwritten, stream-of-consciousness pages that you write every day, as soon as you wake up, before you do anything else.

What that means is, every morning, as soon as you wake up, you pull out your notebook and write your Morning Pages: “I just woke up. My head hurts. I need some coffee. I want to go back to sleep. Did I finish that blog post last night? I think I did, but I can’t remember. Oh and did I take the garbage out?”… You get the picture.

Write whatever comes to your head. Doesn’t matter what it is. Complain, talk about the dream you just had, write down everything you have to do that day—write anything.

After you finish writing your Morning Pages, put your notebook away and get on with your day.

There is no right or wrong way to write Morning Pages, and there are only have three rules:

  • No Judgment—You’re writing these pages stream-of-consciousness. That means you think it, you write it down. Doesn’t matter what you write, just write it. Don’t look back; don’t stop to think about what you’re writing.
  • No Restraint—Morning Pages are meant to be writing your thoughts, without retraining yourself. Write down whatever thoughts you have. Keep the flow going. And don’t hold back. Ever.
  • Don’t Stop Writing—Every morning, put your pen on the paper and don’t pick it up until you’ve finished three pages. And write them every day. Consistency is key to results.

And don’t worry, these pages are just for your eyes. You don’t show them to anyone else. No one sees them, but you.

Morning Pages Tips
Before you get started with your Morning Pages, here are some important things to know:

  • Weekends will be harder than weekdays—My weekdays are pretty structured; I get up at the same time, I go to work at the same time. But on the weekends, I sleep in, which caused me to forget about my Pages. (I did still write them, but after I put my contacts in and took the dog out, not right when I woke up).
  • You’ll need to remind yourself—Until Morning Pages become a habit for you (which usually takes about 30 to 60 days), you will need a reminder so you write them consistently. What’s been effective for me is a Post-It on my bathroom mirror that says, “Morning Pages.”
  • If you draw a blank, write about it—Sometimes during stream-of-consciousness writing you can lose track of your thought. If this happens, use it. Just write, “I don’t know what to write,” over and over again until another thought comes to you. Or you can write about not having anything to write about.
  • Try your very best to write them as soon as you get up—Yes, it can be hard to do this, but you will get the best results this way. I found on the days that I did something else before writing my Morning Pages that it was more difficult for me to write them. I wasn’t as stream-of-consciousness as I would’ve been if I had just woken up. Now I don’t even put my contacts in, I just sit down and write.

Give Morning Pages a two-week trial and see what results you unblock.

Have you ever attempted Morning Pages? What was your experience like?

Ed. Note: I updated my results from this experiment at the one-year mark

Also, the link to the Writing Diet book is an affiliate link. I appreciate your support.-jb


Bookmark and Share

3 Reasons You Should Write Morning Pages

By Jennifer Blanchard

Many procrastinating writers say the reason they can’t write is because they have writer’s block. Any time they sit down to write, they can’t. Nothing comes to them. Their minds are blank.

Julia Cameron, creator of the international bestseller, The Artist Way, has come up with a very effective “tool” for overcoming writer’s block: Morning Pages.

What are Morning Pages, you ask?

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness,” Cameron says.

That means, whatever pops in your head, you write down: “I just woke up and I’m really irritated I have to write these pages. My hand hurts. I need my computer. I don’t want to do this. Oh, I think I have a meeting this morning. Shoot! I need to check my calendar”…You get the picture.

And the best part is, there is no right or wrong way to do your Morning Pages.

“These daily meanderings are not meant to be art,” Cameron says. “Or even writing…[Morning] Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”

 Now you may be thinking, “No way. I’m not a morning person.” Or “I’ll be late for work if I do this.” But before you get negative about it, here are 3 reasons why you should write Morning Pages:

  • They Teach You to Ignore Your Inner Editor–Since there’s no right or wrong way to write your Morning Pages, you don’t have to worry about your inner editor trying to criticize you. All you have to think about is getting three pages written. That’s it. No judgment.
  • They Can ‘Unblock’ You–“All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity,” Cameron says. “Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye–this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.”As you consistently write your Morning Pages, you’ll start to notice you are able to once again come up with ideas for your writing.  Your “writer’s block” won’t be a problem anymore.
  • They Get You to the “Other Side”–“Morning Pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods,” Cameron says.

Simply put, Morning Pages help you get over the stuff that keeps you “blocked” and procrastinating on your writing–fear, problems, issues, anger, anxiety, worry, etc.

If you’re ready to give Morning Pages a go, here’s how to get started:

  • Place a notebook and pen/pencil by your bed.
  • First thing when you wake up in the morning, grab your notebook and write 3 pages. Whatever comes to your mind.
  • Don’t do anything else until you write your pages. In fact, you might as well just sit in bed and write them.
  • Once you’ve finished three pages, close your notebook and get started with your day.

It’s that simple. And doing them every day will yield amazing results.

Have you ever done Morning Pages before? If yes, how did they work out for you? If no, are you considering starting to write them?