Updated: May 23
In the Open Book Writing Circles we sometimes talk about the challenges we're experiencing with our writing. This helps us to normalize the fact that the act of writing isn't necessarily an "easy" thing, but we do it anyway.
It also allows us to recognize that we're not alone in the issues that come up for us when it comes to our writing and storytelling process.
Over two recent Writing Circles, I did an informal poll asking each participant to share "What is your biggest challenge as it relates to your writing in this moment?"
The following were some of the challenges that came up. I've removed duplicative responses and condensed some in the same category:
Time / Carving out time for my own personal writing versus writing for clients/work
Getting my thoughts together and getting started / Afraid to start
Making the time to take myself seriously
Condensing my thoughts / Lots of ideas
No challenges. Nothing but joy and excitement
Do you see yourself in any of these?
I absolutely love these responses. For so many reasons.
First, I can personally relate to every single one.
Second, because I asked people to share their challenges IN THIS MOMENT and not necessarily their ongoing challenges, so the responses varied and, strung together, give us almost an inner monologue of a single writer over time.
Need to make the time. OK, I made the time, but now I need to get my thoughts together and actually start. But, I'm afraid and I can't really take myself seriously. Who do I think I am? OK, I can do this. But, now I have too many thoughts and too many ideas. I can't condense them all. OK, I've made the space. I can do this. I'm actually doing this! I feel joy.
(And then begins the cycle of the inner critic, but we'll save that for another day).
Lastly, these patterns validate so much of what we already know about our own internal challenges when it comes to writing and storytelling.
We've had participants joining the Writing Circle from Romania, Italy, Germany, Greece, Brazil, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. to name a few.
We've had about-to-be-published authors and "this is my first time picking up a pen in 10 years" writers.
Many of our writing challenges are - seemingly - universal.
Over the coming months, I'll dig in a little to each of these limiting beliefs and "writer's blocks" a bit more.
But, I won't bury the lead. I'm not holding out on you.
The reality is, there's not one solution to any of these challenges. No cure-all for the ailments of a fearful writer. No magic potion for the lack of time, the imposter syndrome or the overflow of thoughts.
But, there' also no replacement for the high of putting that pen to paper and forming the first imperfect letter. No substitute for the internal dance of the words coming together.
If you know, you know.
The closest "remedy" to the above plaguing thoughts I've come to find in my own writing journey is to remove the solitary experience of writing. Because the only way out is through. And, getting through requires showing up.
And, let's face it. Showing up can be hard.
So, that's pretty much all I've got at the moment. For whatever it's worth. It's the one way I've awakened my own dormant inner writer and the single act that has transformed my relationship with words once again.
Don't go it alone. Join a writing group that resonates with you and your values. Find an accountability partner and set deadlines with one another. Treat your writing time as sacred as any other appointment in your calendar.
However you do it, keep showing up. For your words. For your stories.
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