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.

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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.

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

Image Courtesy of JulieJordanScott

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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


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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?