When intrusive thoughts keep you from writing

a young woman writing in a notebook while sitting on a couch
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Say you sit down to write, and can’t concentrate on your project because of intrusive thoughts about a recent conflict with a friend.  Perhaps you keep circling back to it, and all you can feel is the stress response in your body. 

Intrusive thoughts can be really challenging to get past.  Even when you’re clear on what you’re wanting to focus on (your writing), other situations in life can get in the way.

Sit with it

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself, instead of forcing something to happen, is to sit with what’s truly alive.  Giving space for what’s here.

You’re strong, and you don’t have to fight every moment

Yes, it’s true that you can choose your focus.  I imagine (even if it doesn’t feel like it at this exact moment) you are strong, with powerful willpower.  You can choose what you want to focus on, and have those things.

There are times when it makes a lot of sense to choose to let go of a difficult situation and focus on something else for a while.

Yet this may end up being avoidance instead.  It could be fuel for an unneeded battle in your mind to fight against the pull of your attention.

It’s like if I asked you not to think about daisies. 

… Are you thinking about daisies?  

When you’re in a situation of trying *not* to think about something so you can focus on something else, check in if it’s worth the mental tension to do so.

Create space from within–the world usually won’t do it for you

What if you could set your writing aside just for a moment?  So the frustration doesn’t build up about not making progress with either your writing or solving this conflict.

Yes, you could be writing right now.  But is it worth it to give this situation the attention it needs? So you can bring ease and peace to your frazzled mind. Be able to show up to your writing with 100% of your energy. And with your heart open.

Journaling to acknowledge what’s real

Here’s a suggestion, if you find yourself in this place.  Allow yourself the space and time to journal what you’re feeling.  It doesn’t have to take forever; even 10 minutes can help create a shift.

As you’re journaling, identify your emotions and bodily sensations.  Let your pen move, capturing this moment fully.  


I feel stressed.  Nervous stomach, churning.  Body tight and contracted.  Mind racing.  It feels like a relief to write this.  

I feel worse when I regret having that conversation and rocking the boat.  I wish I’d just played it cool, said what didn’t work, and left it at that. 

So, those thoughts make it worse.  Thinking that I messed up.  Again, holding onto resentment for so long before speaking up. 

But I think it’s mainly about me adjusting my expectations.  Not sharing everything.  Focusing on what I DO want, instead of what I don’t, since that just doesn’t feel good.

I feel sad, because all of this is pretty tangled up together and it’s hard to tell what’s important in the moment. 

Like right now, I’m still trying to figure it all out, and where I messed up. But what’s best is to wait for things to settle and go from there.

Surrender what is too much

Some issues under rumination may be out of your control.  

Imagine pulling everything relating to the situation out of your body and energy field like sticky tendrils.  Imagine weaving the fibers together and folding it up like a blanket.  Put it in a basket, and place it on a conveyor belt moving straight to a caring divine source.

A bit of perspective

In creating space for yourself and surrendering what is too much, you are giving yourself what you need.  This can be more valuable than meeting the urgency to make progress on your project.

Finally, offer compassion for yourself, acknowledging what you did well.  


You might find that this process of self-care to be with what’s present gives you even more energy to pour into your creativity.  Your newfound insight may be applied directly to the characters in your story or a foundational approach to your book.  

Good luck and happy writing. Please feel free to reach out for individualized support with this process.