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Tracking a writing project to overcome inadequacy

tracking a writing project

A few months ago, I put a lot of effort into revamping my website, which took on a similar shape as a writing project. 

All I could see were the “to-dos.”  I knew it wasn’t about perfection, but goodness were there tons of things I wanted to accomplish.  

Each day, I added more tasks than I completed. Was I ever going to finish?

I felt a sinking sensation every time I looked at the website. The end seemed to be moving farther and farther away.

After a 3 week break to recharge my creative batteries, I went back through my notes to see what I HAD accomplished. 

I was surprised–I’d basically put the new version of the website together in 3 weeks.  3 weeks of fully-focused deep work.  

No wonder I needed a 3 week break!  After the perspective, I could see that I was closer to “done-enough” than I thought.

It’s common to feel like you have to start from square one every time you return to your writing project. 

Life might have gotten in the way so there’s been a ton of time between the last time you opened the document. 

Or you have trouble remembering what you worked on yesterday. 

Or maybe you’re just disappointed by the amount of progress you made, wishing you had done more, believing that you could have.

The space between the “ideal” and “now” is the disappointment.

It’s like working out.  Imagine focusing on your target outcome each time you enter the gym.  Maybe it’s getting strong enough to lift your grandchild. Deadlifting your bodyweight.  Seeing muscle definition in your shoulders.  Losing or gaining those five pounds. 

But Monday after work when you pick up the weight and look in the mirror, all you see is the 15 pound bar you’re holding instead of the coveted 45, because you’re working back from an injury.  Or how soft your stomach is because of the emotional overeating you’ve been doing after your break-up.  

How discouraging it is to be let down by your “current moment” compared to your “ideal vision” over and over again.

It can be difficult to see how much you’re actually doing. Especially when you’re focusing on what still needs to be done.  

Progress >> Goal

With strength training, the goal is only part of the equation.  On a day-to-day basis, what’s more important is maintaining strong form and consistently doing your workouts.

Not only imagining lifting 180 eventually, but being in the 80 of today.  Knowing that one day the 80 will become more. And that forcing it to happen sooner than you’re ready would mean injury and setbacks.

Keeping a workout log is a necessity. Recording exercises, reps, sets, and weights. This lets you know where you’re at. 

Plus, it allows you to focus on the little wins.  Whenever I use a heavier weight for the first time, I circle the number, which is simple yet feels incredibly satisfying.  

Post-workout logs are also more accurate in showing what you did, versus the plan. I might use different equipment if the machine is occupied. Avoid an exercise that I can’t perform with good form.  Or notice I’m not resourced enough to complete the planned routine, and end early for a snack.

What does this have to do with writing? 

Well, I’m a big proponent of tracking progress in a writing project similar to tracking progress at the gym.  

How and what to track

What data is there in a writing project? 

Below are examples of the data I’ve tracked.  You can choose what would be most helpful to you.  And customize with your own ideas based on your goals.

Numerical Data

  • Date
  • Amount of Time Spent (hours or minutes—you can round to the nearest .25 when tracking by hour)
  • Word Count Added
  • # of Pages Written

Accomplishments

  • What You Did

Takeaways (optional)

  • Key Insights
  • What You’re Proud Of/Happy About
  • Your Favorite Part of Your Work Session

When you’re struggling with that not-enough feeling, like running uphill on a treadmill going nowhere, you can use tracking to observe, celebrate, and appreciate the things you HAVE done.

I invite you to find perspective, and feel good about what you’re doing. For tips about tracking, see the next blog post.

Ready to try? Click this link for a free customizable writing project tracker.

When you don’t feel celebrating

“You should celebrate!” your friend says brightly. “You’ve made so much progress, I hope you can see that.”

They’re well-meaning and sweet words.

You’re 20 pages into your novel, so it makes sense.

So why are you frowning and feeling like a little part of you is throwing a tantrum under your skin?

“I’m not done though!” the little voice in your head argues. “I need to finish before I think about celebrating.”

You take a moment so your response doesn’t come out as *grumble grumble.* And tell your friend, “Sure, I will.” The words are flat, unconvincing. You’re exhausted by the effort of your work, and have no extra energy to pretend to be happy about something you know needs much more work.

~

What happens when you. just. don’t. feel. like. celebrating?

Maybe you’ve reached a milestone in your project and everyone is telling you to celebrate your progress.  

But you feel resistant.  You don’t wanna celebrate!

Logically and rationally, celebration is a good thing.  If you celebrate when you achieve success, you’ll feel good about continuing.  It helps momentum.  And it’s supposed to feel good.

So why don’t you feel good about celebrating?

You’re not ready to celebrate

It’s okay if you’re not feeling in a celebratory mood.  

You might feel like you need to do MORE before you’re allowed to celebrate.  Remember that your standards might be colored by a culture of productivity.  

It is okay to take a break, in order to celebrate.

You don’t need to try to cover up the pain you’re feeling with happiness.  If you’re feeling grief, feel that until it passes.

When celebrating is a cringey, big, loud, effortful to-do

What comes up for you when you think of the word celebration?

Balloons, gifts, big parties, cake with congratulations written in cursive, a cookie?  A brand new journal and pen.

Maybe gifts are not your thing.  They just collect dust in that closet.

And maybe you’re an introvert who cringes at the idea of a big loud to-do.

You can’t have food rewards, because that goes against your diet.  So no cookies or cake.

You just don’t want to put in the effort.  You see other people’s celebrations on social media, and can’t imagine what it would take to create that sort of celebration. 

Oof, and dressing up?  Your sweats and hoodie are way more comfortable.  

A gentler way to celebrate

I used to think that celebration had to be a big, loud, effortful to-do.  For this reason, I resisted it.  Even when I knew that celebration could be simple, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  It was too much work, anyway.

Now I know celebration doesn’t have to always be about “doing” (like going out and buying something, or having a party).  

It can also be about “being” with yourself in celebration. 

Naming the success and really feeling it in the body.  Making space for the goodness, the hard work put in, the satisfaction of accomplishment. 

It’s harder than it seems, without stopping to question if the success is “worthy enough” to celebrate and take space for.  

Take a breath

With my clients, sometimes if I’ve pointed out something they did well, I can see them kind of holding their breath.  

I invite them (and you) to pause, take a breath, soften, and let it sink in.  

Simply acknowledging and feeling success can go a long way.  

Try it out

What did you accomplish?  

Examples:

  • I wrote for 30 minutes four times this week.
  • I finished my first chapter.
  • I received a powerful insight when I took some time to journal when I was feeling down.
  • I got a great idea that I’m excited about writing.  

How does it feel in the body?

Examples:

  • warmth in the chest
  • smiling
  • chin lifting
  • eyes closing
  • solidness in the legs
  • effervescent bubbly energy
  • feeling of openness

Take the time to pause and appreciate something that happened.  Breathe the goodness in.

You don’t need to wait until you accomplish something.  You don’t need to have finished your book, or written your first draft.  

Just turn your attention to what you’ve done, even if it seems tiny.  This way, you build the muscle to get better and better at noticing opportunities for appreciation.

When you need your writing to be cool

Photo by Ben Weber on Unsplash

You know that moment when you notice that everyone has those shoes?  You know, THOSE shoes.  

And the cool guy was wearing them in the cool movie, and when he drove the cool car, you could see his cool shoes stomping on the pedals to make the cool moves?

All the popular and happy people who get what they want wear those shoes.  The cool people.

Your shoes aren’t cool.  Yours look like boats around your feet.  They stand out, especially compared to those narrow, fitted, cool shoes.

You need those shoes.  You’ve got to have those shoes.

The measure of cool

Do you ache for your story to be just as cool as it felt when watching people with the cool shoes?

Perhaps you discard each idea that comes up because nothing feels good enough.  And when you finally start writing, you get stuck because the language isn’t interesting enough or the content isn’t shiny enough.

You might feel a sick feeling in your stomach when you look at your super uncool document.

Coolness is so urgent and loud.  

When you’re trying to measure the cool factor of your story, it becomes difficult to connect with the story that really wants to be told.  The story from your heart and soul.

Coolness doesn’t endure

Say years later, you finally get a pair of those shoes on sale.  You’re so proud to show them off, you can live with the fact that they’re incredibly uncomfortable (Which makes no sense–how does everyone else wear them?). 

Until you notice… no one else is wearing the shoes anymore.  There’s that familiar hot flush, and you hide your feet.  You carry a big sweater and place your bag on top of your shoes when you sit down.  Just until you can buy a different pair. 

Then years and years later, you find those basically-new shoes when you’re cleaning out your closet.  There’s a hot wash of embarrassment when you remember how you thought the shoes were so cool.  So uncool.

Exploring what “cool” means to you

The word “cool” can be substituted for a lot of different things.  It’s related to acceptability, versus the lack of belonging.  

If you notice some of your frustration with your writing is related to a missed expectation, explore it with compassion through journaling.  Here’s an example:

  1. Define the thought.  

Example: I want my story to be “cool.”  It’d make people see and know the real me.

  1. Get curious.  Where does it come from?

Example: This desire stems from a place where I feel invisible and uncool.  The way I felt in social situations, like I didn’t belong.  Feeling like I stood out and no one understood me or what I thought was cool. 

Or how I felt on the sidelines, watching all my friends playing when I hadn’t signed up for any sports.  Or having no clue what everyone else was talking about, since I’d never traveled out of the country.

  1. Identify the emotions coming up.

Example: I feel sad for that child, that teenager in ill-fitting clothes who felt perpetually uncool and couldn’t fit in.  All those times when my interests were strange or I felt too old for immature behavior.  I wanted to be wanted and chosen. 

I feel sad because I’d never be cool; I didn’t feel it from the inside – it was something I chased through other means like trying to wear the right clothes.  

I feel sad for the desperation to be cool, welcomed, accepted, loved, and to have the sort of positive attention directed to who I really was.  

I also feel sad for this adult me, hoping and praying for a time sometime in the future where everyone who hurt me could see how much MORE I am.  

  1. Imagine holding your inner child.  Identify the needs of the inner child.  

Example: I am holding this child to be loved and attended to, what she really needs.  Her sadness, her emptiness, her neediness, her lack.  She wants accomplishment to prove her worthiness, so that others take note and see and understand. 

Well, I understand her.  I see her.  I care about her feelings.  

  1. Make the connection.  Why does it make sense?

Example: I see the connection between my adult self and child self.  The neediness is around leaving an impression for who I really am (the opposite of invisibility).  And ultimately to be loved. 

There is judgement cast on who I was, that it was bad.  There was a need for belonging, to be loved, to be known, when I can be who I really am. 

So I needed this book to be something I create that lets me be loved, understood, appreciated for who I really am.  It’s a lot of pressure.  No wonder I wasn’t feeling great. 

  1. What’s the core wound?

Example: Underneath the invisibility is feeling like I couldn’t show up as myself.  I had to hide.  I felt like I had to be different than I really was.  Much of my life has been about trying to be different. 

Because other people always seem to have it better, easier, happier. 

At the core, I didn’t think I could have what I wanted by being myself.

  1. Wrap up what you learned and take it forward.

Example: This is something I’m sure will be part of my life’s journey to keep coming back to– it’s pretty deep.  But for now, I can take little steps into the light. 

I know that I want a life where I can be myself, and bring in people who love me for me, instead of contorting to fit the people I know.

There are no right or wrong answers here.  Simply through awareness and acknowledging your thoughts, beliefs, and needs, you can find freedom from the painful inner tension.

Your story is just a story

The urgency to write a good story can stem from an unmet need, like the need for social connection and being seen, heard, and understood.  

These threads can weigh down your writing and make you feel heavy or sick to your stomach when you don’t get it right.  

You might feel deeply disappointed in yourself when you can’t live up to your own standards.

Observe whether you’re putting more stock than is possible into your story or creative project.  

Your story is just a story.  What’s in your heart is enough.  When you feel joyful, that’s enough.  And hey, you’re pretty cool.  With or without the cool shoes.  

Your story doesn’t need to be anything more than it already is to be loved and appreciated.

How to prevent outlines that make you stuck

detailed planning outline can make you stuck
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Somewhere in the invisible recesses of cloud storage, a book outline exists.

Complete with title, it’s a 3-page Word document with 10 sections.

It’s gorgeous. Organized. Easy to read.

I spent hours on it.

Yet…

I never wrote it.

When I was done with the outline, I felt repelled to see it. I lost all motivation and interest in the topic.  

If you’ve created a detailed plan for a project yet never carried it through, this might look familiar. How frustrating to put all the time and energy into planning your project without following through.

Why did this happen? 

Mystery is important

Spoilers are called spoilers for a reason.  When the ending of a story is spoiled, do you want to watch the movie? 

How is it to read a book when you already know the key details or destination?

When you’re feeling creative, there’s likely something you’re wanting to explore.  Some mystery you’re trying to solve.  Questions you’re seeking answers to.  

When there’s no mystery, you lose your curiosity.  When you’re not curious, you lose the drive to turn the page. You no longer need to take the effort to find out what’s going to happen next. 

It’s about the big picture, not the details

Imagine looking at a map, like Google maps.  Think of the difference between scrolling around the image of the map to see the route, versus reading the step-by-step turn details.  

I don’t know about you, but those detailed instructions are tedious when I’m choosing a route.  I want to be told the next turn when I’m ready to turn, not before I even start driving!

I’d rather look at the big picture and scroll around that map to get a sense of the directions before I start.

Your outline is like that map.  It shows the milestones to turn at.  You can see the general beginning, middle, and end. 

You’re planning a route to the destination.  

But it’s not the only way to get there.  

The mistakes I made, and why they kept me from the writing

I immediately realized why I’d outlined myself into the wall.  I’ve seen these issues keep my clients from writing as well.

With all the effort put into making a detailed outline, there was no more magic and mystery.

In adding details, I had no room to explore further.

In making the outline pretty, I was using creative energy that could have been going into the actual writing.

The result? Boredom and depletion.

Below are principles you can apply to your own outlines to create plans that stimulate your creativity:

  1. Use bullet points, not complete sentences.
  2. Use a few words to capture the key concepts.
  3. Try to fit the outline on one page.
  4. The outline doesn’t need to be pretty.  It’s not likely something anyone but you will see.  Don’t expend too much creative energy exhausting yourself in the planning phase.  
  5. Think of the outline as the bones of your piece.  It’s the foundation.  All it’s doing is helping to create a structure. The creativity and fun comes in the act of writing.
  6. It’s okay to stray from the outline a bit. Refer to it, but don’t be tied to it.  You don’t need to be attached.  If you’re moving completely away from the outline, this can be an issue.  But you don’t need to know everything before you start writing.
  7. Keep the outline and brainstorm separate.  The brainstorm contains extra ideas that may not be used. The outline has limited information.  It’s about choosing an arc deliberately.  You’re making choices based on all the ideas you brainstormed.
  8. When you start writing, write the words out, even if they’re written in your outline verbatim. Copying and pasting from your outline interrupts the flow of writing and prevents new creative insights.

As an example, here is my outline for this article:

  • Struggling to write a detailed outline. (e.g. that book outline I never wrote)
    • Plan, but don’t use up all creative energy.  Keep openness.  
    • Mystery important.  
      • E.g. If know book ending, curiosity lost.  Map–details tedious.
    • How to
      • Don’t get caught in details. 
      • Bullet points. 
      • Few words to capture concepts. 
      • Fit in one page. 
      • Outline = big-picture look.

Pretty boring, right? Outlines don’t need to be pretty, just functional.

You might notice that I don’t stick to this outline exactly.  There’s some rearranging. 

Your outlines don’t have to look exactly the same as this. Keeping the principles above in mind can help in making plans that support you with your actual writing.

I hope instead of a bunch of stale documents piling up on your hard drive, your ideas are transformed into the stories you want to create. Please reach out if you’d like help with this.

Good luck, and happy writing.

If Only You Could See What I See

deer behind grass
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Sometimes I have to rein back my excitement. I’ve got to slow down and not rush too far ahead. Stay in the moment with weary people who’ve worried over their story for so long the doubt is crushing them.

You may have asked yourself similar questions as my clients. Spun in similar doubts.  

“Can I really do it? My writing is terrible. I’m not getting anywhere. Will anyone like this story?”

~

If only you could see what I see: The moment your enthusiasm escapes the prison laid by doubt and frustration, lighting you up as you speak of your idea.  

If only you could read what I read: The gorgeous prose and courageous truths on the page.  

If only you could feel what I feel: The power encoded in your tender body and nimble hands to create joy, make me laugh, nurture warmth, bring me to the edge of my seat… all in response to your words.

~

Remember that you may never know who will cherish your words and embrace your stories. Who will sink into your truths to free themselves or connect to something much greater.  

You may be unaware of the value of your own words through someone else’s eyes.  You can’t experience what it’s like to read your story for the first time when you’re glazing over looking at the same words over and over again.

We’ve all got an inner critic. It’s typically harshest on ourselves.

~

Your first draft does not have to be good. Five star quality is neither a requirement nor expectation. It’s not about the details but the sentiment and creative movement. You can always edit. Keep going. You’ve got this.

~

When you’re feeling hard on yourself, know this struggle is not the only story, or the only truth. Imagine looking into a mirror held by a treasured source who is full of affection for all that you are.

Even if you don’t feel like it right now, you are beautiful and powerful, right at the center of your own story.

Are you removing yourself from your writing?

When you’re uncomfortable with the story or content you’re writing, you might shy away from specifics and instead make broad generic statements.  Your sentences might be unnecessarily complex.  

You may be subconsciously creating a protective space between yourself and your words.  This can make the writing abstract.  It’s a dance between your true voice and your reader.  When you distance yourself consciously or unconsciously, your reader can often sense that disconnection.

Here’s what someone writing on loneliness said at first: 

“Since childhood, I’ve been familiar with the sense of being alone, and the struggles of isolation.  Until finding meaning for seclusion, there’s no way to move on.  When you lose your voice, it’s like they put a spear in your heart.”

Confusing, yes?

That’s partly because the writer used a passive voice to remove themselves from their writing.  The first sentence is vague and distant.  The statements are generalized instead of personal.  Ideas jump from one to the next.  At times, the subject or action is unclear; it’s unclear who “they” is.

Perhaps the writer realized they were trying to protect themselves from the pain of past memories.  They decided to try stepping directly into their story:

“Since childhood, I’ve felt alone and struggled with loneliness.  My heart was breaking because it was like no one understood me.  I lost my voice. I was living a story that wasn’t mine… until I discovered meaning for my seclusion and found myself.”

In which version do you feel more connected with the writer?

In general, people tend to use a passive voice when there’s a power differential, in collectivistic cultures (versus individualistic cultures), when uncertain, and in lieu of taking responsibility.  It can also be an unconscious avoidance strategy as an internal protective mechanism.

You can stay in the writing in order to connect more deeply.

Have you ever parried with beliefs like: “I don’t have the right to tell this story.  Others will judge me.  I’ll be abandoned if I share this story.”  Let’s look at ways to not just change the words on the paper, but to open your heart to let yourself out. 

Find a safe space to work with your internal self.

  1. Tune into the heart of what’s keeping you at a distance from your writing.  Notice your beliefs, fears, and worries.
  2. Ask your fears what they need.  Reassurance?  Permission?  Acceptance?  
  3. Give the fears what they need as best you can. Imagine a resource—a fairy godparent, nature, you as an older and wiser self—soothing, guiding, and protecting the fearful self.
  4. Does meeting your needs help go deeper into the story? …Notice if that’s true for you.

Once you’ve worked with your internal self, check your writing to see if the energy of these beliefs and feelings are evident there…

  1. Look for abstract, generalized, vague statements.  While having diplomacy is a strength in many contexts, consider if a direct route is necessary.  (If you can’t see it, ask another set of eyes to take a look—it’s hard to see in your own writing.)
  2. Identify where you’ve written in the passive voice.  As an experiment, change it to active, and see how it feels both personally and in the writing. 

Don’t lose who you are!  Put yourself out there, and notice how that shifts your writing and your inner self.

Happy writing.

How to connect with an audience that might not understand

It can be really difficult to imagine writing (or speaking) to an audience that is different than you. You might wonder how they’ll understand your perspective. All you know is they’ve had vastly different experiences, and you’re not sure what you have in common. How do you make a point, get your message across, or simply communicate to be understood—what do you even say to them?

~

When I visited Chicago during an unseasonably warm winter with no snow, I felt the shock of cold while others rejoiced in the pleasant warmth and celebrated not having to shovel out sidewalks. I’ve lived in California all my life with sunny India as my ancestral origin, so my body isn’t regulated for the cold. (Plus, I generally tend to run cold.) The weather is an external experience. My shivers when walking down the street and joy once I found the coziest hoodie were an internal experience. Though the Chicagoans around me were amused by my reaction to the “cold,” they could relate to (and empathize with) teeth chattering and the satisfaction of a soft warm jacket.

We all have different experiences of the world, shaped by our environment, what we’ve learned, and the unique way we respond.

Emotions and physical sensations can’t be argued with; they simply exist as part of an internal experience. Though two people could have contradicting beliefs of right/wrong or haven’t experienced the same thing (e.g. climbing Mt. Tamalpais, tasting mango pickle), they likely have similarities in emotional experience (e.g. feel happy with success, feel sad upon loss, scrunch their face when tasting sour).

~

To make a deeper connection in your writing, describe the internal experience (your emotions and sensations) without solely focusing on the external experience (what happened). This is a universal core that connects us as human.

To a reader, an evocative piece that packs an emotional punch or mirrors their own feelings may be more interesting than a dry description.

~

When writing,

  1. Try starting from the energy of “feeling” versus “thinking.” While your reader may not have traveled to the Bahamas, they can likely relate to the excited-nervousness of visiting a destination for the first time or the disappointment of ending a vacation.
  2. Take your audience on an emotional journey. How do you feel about the transpiring events?

In this way, you may have more success in connection, being understood, and desired response. You may also experience more satisfaction as your internal experience gets expressed more fully.

Good luck and happy writing!

Why You Want To Write

Do you know why you want to write? This can be an interesting question, with answers varying by mood, day, or project phase.

Say you’re in the middle of a project but you’ve lost the zest. When you’re stuck, doubting, or uncertain, it can help to get clear on the purpose of why you’re wanting to write. It can also help to shine a light on your inner beliefs. You can consciously choose your purpose. Here’s how:

  1. Start with a blank piece of paper.
  2. Free-write a list of why you’re wanting to do this project. Be honest with yourself. Maybe you want accomplishment, acceptance, self-expression. Why else do you want to write? Maybe to contribute, to find meaning…
  3. Let yourself see all your motivations, even the ones that might be uncomfortable to face. You might judge some reasons as “good” and others as “bad.” Your list is only for your eyes; the motivators that seem “bad” may be related to core needs, so try to see it all with kindness.
  4. Once you have your list of reasons, notice which ones:
    a) Feel good to tie to your project.
    b) Are needs which might be met in alternate ways alongside or besides your project.
    c) Are outdated or just don’t feel good.

Wherever your desires are coming from, they’re okay to have.

It’s often helpful to acknowledge whether any desires are outdated. These can be let go because they won’t really serve your fulfillment and joy in life. For example, the desire to prove yourself as a writer to your family or the English teacher who give you a C may feel heavy. You might replace it with wanting to feel proud of yourself and authentically connect with the people who want to hear your words.

Core needs may show up in your reasons. For example, the desire for approval, to feel like you’re a good enough writer, might stem from past unmet needs. It may be helpful to release the pressure of these needs on your project or your audience. When you can get those needs met (like through self-validation, spiritual connection, or a supportive friend or mentor), then you don’t have to be looking for those needs to be met through your readers. This can free you up to enjoy the creative process more.

Focus on the desires that feel good in your whole body. So you can enjoy the time, energy, effort, and love you pour into your project. You might feel good about completion, learning something new, or connecting to others in a novel way. Even simply excitement, creative passion, tapping into your intuition, or speaking your truth.

Write down your dreams, purpose, and mission. Refer back to it when you’re feeling lost.

When you know what you truly want, even if it’s unusual or embarrassing, then you can take steps to create it. Your desires for your story don’t have to look like anyone else’s. There are no right or wrong reasons.

I hope this helps you think about your relationship to your project in a new, freeing, and more fulfilling way. Happy writing!

When To Show Up Imperfectly

I had a deadline to share a draft with a mentor last week. Unfortunately, inspiration didn’t hit until two days before the deadline, not enough time to complete the draft.  

I want my writing to be polished enough to show who I am (better said, to reveal just enough of myself). I want to be proud of reaching my own internal standards, and even better, going beyond them. It’s uncomfortable to share raw, incomplete writing.   But I was out of time.

I cringed to share my draft before I’d had a chance to remove any potentially awkward or embarrassing passages. I debated whether to share the progress at all, or wait until it was more suitable.  

Ultimately, I sent it with multiple disclaimers. It was in-progress, rough, etc.  

As my mentor and I reviewed it together, I noticed that being seen in my incomplete-ness actually had some benefits. It helped to:

  • Identify the core threads without having to write hundreds of words to find them.
  • Receive big-picture feedback to help shape the draft and give clarity on next steps.
  • Work together on something incomplete, knowing that it didn’t have to be perfect.
  • Trust and surrender control of my writing process.
  • See where I was complicating things.

It’s freeing being brave for a moment of imperfection.  

Are you holding onto something that might be helpful to take an imperfect step towards?  

Here are some questions to help discern when it makes sense to show up imperfectly.

  1. How does it feel in your body?
    The sensations you feel can give you clues on the truth and what’s best.
  2. Is it a baby step to build the muscle or the scariest thing ever?
    It may be uncomfortable, but if it feels like the scariest thing ever, you may want to reconsider your choices or seek support.
  3. What context will it happen in, and with whom?
    While authenticity is important, it may not be appropriate to submit an incomplete draft for a professional deadline.
  4. Where is the pressure to be perfect coming from?
    Notice if this is internalized from past experience or a valuable consideration for the current situation.
  5. Can a growth mindset release the pressure valve?
    Seeing your experiences as learning experiences can curtail your inner critic and help you feel better about opportunities for growth.

Consider your unique situation and consult your inner wisdom. As I did, you might find yourself pleasantly appreciating the results from taking small risks.

The Creative Rebel

I worked with a client who knew their writing was radical, meant to shock readers into transformational clarity. To put words to experiences and issues not commonly spoken about. Almost like once their words were read, the reader wouldn’t be the same again.

Whew, what an intense and tender thing to carry this purpose. Especially with their naturally caring and empathetic personality.

It can be terrifying to do your own thing, new and different from those around you.

Even after you hear your own calling, you may not want to go your own way. Yet you might be feeling a pull from your roots to stay the same. To not rock the boat.

The definition of a rebel is someone who resists convention.

Some rebels are aggressively defiant; others are simply disruptors introducing a novel way of being into the world.

Think about the typical rebellious teenager. Taking risks, lying to parents, ignoring curfew, testing out substances…

There’s a drive towards rebellion. Even if it’s not comfortable for those around them. Even if it goes against the “good person” persona they’ve wore through adolescence.

That teenage rebellion is a key stage towards individuation and maturity. Learning from the experiences. Preparing for a future of confidently making the right choices.

It may not be the time when it’s clear to them WHY they’re driven to do what they do, or WHERE it will lead them. But eventually, it becomes clear in hindsight. Those behaviors and experiences may lead them to a new calling, or the ability to settle into a life waiting for them.

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Creative people can be rebels even in the gentlest way. They explore voices that haven’t been heard and put their own unique spin on what’s out there already.

Even the norms you’re familiar with can be rebellious.

  • Write and share your personal story when it’s normal to keep your private affairs to yourself.
  • Examine your challenges and emotional difficulties when it’s normal to “let things go,” “move on,” and “take things easy” without making a fuss.
  • Search for interdependent communities when the norm is individuality and independence.
  • Go your own way/forge your own path when the norm is to put others first.
  • Seek publication for your creative stories when fiction writing isn’t seen as a gainful pursuit.
  • Honestly name problematic behaviors when direct communication isn’t the norm.

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Rebellion isn’t easy. It’s usually messy.

But whenever things crumble, there is potential for new growth and direction. Like the mature adult stage after child following-the-rules and teenager breaking-the-rules.

Lots of conventions seem to be crumbling on Earth. If you’re feeling a radical rebellious creative voice at this time, I encourage you to listen to what it’s saying. Ask for more information. Explore the voices within you to determine if your personal rebellion is an act of purpose, or if it’s an automatic reaction to avoid discomfort.

When things get difficult, be wherever you are. Channel acceptance into your body. It takes time to complete the process of creation. You don’t need to go from awareness of a purposeful creation to putting it out there. Take your time. And follow your inner voice; the GPS of your personal path.

You can simultaneously go your own way, and be supported. You may need to reach beyond those who’ve been around you. This isn’t a bad thing at all. It can simply mean growth and expansion for you to be yourself a bit more. So you can shine the gifts you carry out into the world a bit brighter.