Uncategorized

Procrastinating after the initial excitement wears off? Try this.

It was the beginning of a new writing project… Fingers flying over the keyboard. Leaning into the computer screen. Excited flush through your body. Steadily higher-ticking word count. Surprise when you looked at the time, for how much had passed. Typing late in bed and allowing schedule delays because of delightful idea-whispers in your ear. Your friends could see it in the openness of your face, the brightness in your eyes, the big ol’ grin… you were creating.

Then… what happened?

Now you dread opening the document. You’ve been staring at the same words for the past week. Nothing changes even after hours in front of the screen.

The time you’ve allotted for writing comes around… but you. don’t. wanna! You find other things to do. You miss the spark and wonder what’s wrong. Maybe your idea just isn’t working.

~

This procrastination and resistance in the middle stage of writing is normal. The initial spark of inspiration can’t always carry through an entire project. Just like when exercising, there can be a plateau somewhere in the middle when the novelty and excitement has worn off.

Below are five things you can try when you’re procrastinating.

  1. Take a break. Focusing on something else for a while can be a much-needed reset. You may even return to that OTHER project you were procrastinating on — this can be a welcome time to switch gears. Then when you hit a snag with the other project, you can return to this. 🙂
  2. Have a gentle inquiry with yourself about what is underlying the “I don’t wanna.” Put on a hat of genuine compassionate curiosity. Ask that “I don’t wanna!” voice for more details as if it is a child. Why not? Why? Keep asking why. Remember to be gentle with the voice – curiosity and kindness will likely get you much further than force or judgement. (E.g. I should be enjoying myself — something’s wrong if I don’t feel happy and inspired when creating. What if this is a dumb idea and it’s pointless to complete it? When I finish, I’ll have to show it to people; I’m not ready for that!)
  3. Set a timer for five minutes. Or use a stopwatch. Tell yourself you’re going to seriously try to write for those five minutes. You don’t have to be productive, make a ton of progress, or complete your draft. Just tell yourself to sit and make a sincere effort for those five minutes. If after the time is up, you’re still struggling and not enjoying yourself, you can stop. And if you’re loosened up and the spark of inspiration is there, you can keep going until it doesn’t feel good anymore. This can take away some of the pressure. I find it surprisingly effective. Most often, I continue writing well past the initial 5 minutes.
  4. Change up the routine. If you’ve been staring at your screen, try writing by hand. If you always write at your desk, try the living room or take your laptop outside. Novelty can increase chemicals like dopamine and send signals from the brain to be more alert. This can help when you feel apathy towards your writing.
  5. Accountability. Like setting a timer, letting someone else know your goal is a way to have accountability. Try setting process-oriented instead of outcome-oriented goals. How much time do you want to spend on your writing, and when? Tell a buddy what you plan to do, and see if that helps stick to it.

Similar to plateauing with an exercise goal after the initial excitement wears off, sometimes writing feels like work. Even if it isn’t fun all the time, it doesn’t mean it’ll always be like that. It doesn’t mean you’ll never finish.

Sometimes you just need to keep going. You may even be closer than you think to the end. The results may surprise you. Be kind to yourself.

I hope this helps you plod through the messy middle. Is there something from this list you’ve tried, or want to try? What helps you through procrastination? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below and let me know!

Working With Shame

There are two parts of working with shame. One is relational, the other is internal.

Relational

The relational aspect is bringing shame to the light, and sharing the vulnerability in a safe space where you can be seen and heard. Where you can experience authentic connection. Shame can’t exist in the light, where it is seen, accepted, understood, and loved.

The first time you let yourself be seen in vulnerability in a situation that caused disconnect or loss in the past is rightfully scary. You don’t know what will happen. Endless worst-case scenarios may loop in your mind. After all, you don’t know how others will respond; you have no control over their reactions.

Imagine seeing over and over again that the shameful part of yourself CAN be okay and safe. You CAN have deeper connection by being who you are. This experience helps create new positive neuropathways. Consistently and repetitively creating these new neuropathways cements a new experience.

Yes, it is possible for your shame to be seen and loved.

The relational aspect of working with shame involves taking risks of vulnerability to let shame peek out from where it has been shoved in that dark box. Choosing a supportive sandbox to play with visibility for your shame can help. You can make choices for when, where, and with whom to be vulnerable.

Over time, like any new skill, it becomes easier to practice resilience in vulnerability. Experiencing new forms of attuned secure connection helps that process along. Speaking about shame can create space for a new way of being to sprout.

Of course, no environment, situation, or person is perfect. There are times when reaching out or opening up may fall short. While this is deeply painful, congratulate and celebrate yourself for trying. This effort is what is in your control, not others’ reactions to you.

This brings us to the internal aspect.

Internal

The internal aspect of working with shame involves shifting your relationship with yourself. It’s naming shame. Having compassion and kindness when you go into a shame spiral. Navigating that spiral so you don’t harm yourself from your own thoughts and reactions.

Self-soothing. Finding resilience. Uncovering intrinsic motivation to keep going when things are hard. Self-awareness to rest when needed.

Shame doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It’s actually normal. It serves a purpose.

**

Combining the relational and internal aspects sets the stage for a supportive partnership through shame.

In this article, I speak first about the relational aspect because shame inherently is about other people. It’s how you’re perceived by others, lack of attunement with others, fear of disconnect from others.

When you have a safe base to “hold the rope” of connection and encourage the sprout of authentic vulnerability to grow, your shame demons are no longer in the spotlight. You are connecting. You can use this mirror to reflect to you the parts of yourself you can’t see when the shame demons are taking over. There is a clearer path forward.

Remember, you don’t have to go through it alone. When you start opening up and letting your tender heart be seen, a natural effect is deeper connections, greater resiliency, and a stronger sense of self-worth.

Shame: The Painfully Elusive Key

You know those moments when you feel terrible, but you’re not really sure what’s happening, and why? You’re disconnected from your body. You feel anxious when people look at you. You walk into a room with your gaze down, shoulders bowed. You keep to the corner because you are certain if you were seen, others would know you were different. They’d know there’s something wrong with you. You ruminate after every interaction, try to please everyone, aim for perfection, and feel like an imposter. Unseen and misunderstood. Lonely and disconnected. Anxious and sad.

This is a manifestation of shame.

Shame.

Shame is an elusive sneaky little thing. Is it an emotion? Is it a mechanism protecting from emotion and vulnerability?

One of the things about shame is that it muddles the truth. It’s hard to pin down. Who wants to look shame in the face?

Dancing with shame.

There are many ways to define shame. This article describes some of what I’ve learned. This is not an exhaustive interpretation, but covers the basics. These ideas inform the way I see and work with it, while allowing shifts and evolution over time the more I dance with it. Let me know how it helps you.

Dancing With Shame

A rush of heat from gut to throat, like you’re going to throw up. Chest contracted, shoulders caved in, heart racing. As quick as the heat rises, it’s gone and replaced by cold. Trembling. Tightening.

The worst part? You can’t let anyone else see you quake. You’ve got to hold it all in. As bad as this is, it would be so much worse if anyone saw.

It might even be unrecoverable. You know you’ll be rejected and abandoned.

So all that energy — horror rising deep from within that cavernous part of you… it stays with you.

It turns into a cold distant freeze that never gets fully thawed, because that would be unbearably painful. Or it becomes anger outwardly expressing that hot energy, blaming and spewing on any target in sight who would cower — whoever would not turn around and hold up a mirror.

It’s the worst thing ever for you to see it.

Be Right Where You Are

A reminder for when you’re feeling a lot and struggling…

You will not be in this state forever. There will be a shift.  

You don’t need to plan six steps into the future, with contingency plans for each possibility. You don’t need to know. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. I know, that feels terrible to hear. You want to know so badly. But it’s really truly okay.

It is safe to let go of that gripping grasping wanting-needing to control the future so you know it’ll all be okay. It is okay. Right here.

Be where you are. Notice how it feels. You’re trying so hard to be somewhere else. Wanting, striving, seeking.  

What is here?

Is it… prickly thorny burny give-me-space-or-I’ll-explodey? That’s okay.
– –


What is here?

Is it… trying to escape your skin. Avoid. Hide?

– –  

Give yourself some time with your journal. Be right where you are. Ask, what is here? It’s okay to not be okay. The state will shift when it’s time. What is here?  

You don’t need to understand it. You don’t need to make sense of it. It’s a feeling that will pass.  

You might find, as I do, once you write it – the full truth – you can see… it’s not so bad right here.

Journaling FAQ: Typing vs Handwriting

Typing or handwriting… which is better? I often recommend journaling by hand. Here are 4 reasons:

Speed. You may type much faster on a keyboard than you can write by hand. While this seems like a good thing, an element of journaling is the meditative practice of connecting to your inner truth.  Slowing down can be quite beneficial.  Your mind and body can catch up with each other.  

Nuances.  Your handwriting is more personal than typed words. Your written words can convey your emotions and personality.  Similar to speech versus text, there are nuances in written words which are harder to see in typed letters.  Check out your writing.  Compare how it looks when you’re feeling angry vs happy.  Confident vs uncertain.  Are their shifts in the way the writing appears?  Notice what can be expressed between the lines.

ProcessWriting on paper is less linear. Sure, there are various apps and setups like pen tablets which allow for more creative expression.  But think of a word processor.  You can’t write between the lines and margins as easily.  This is one of my favorite things about writing by hand.  The creative process isn’t linear.  It cycles and spirals.  Ebbs and flows.  New ideas branch off from old ones.  Having the freedom to write by hand and brainstorm ideas nonlinearly is powerful for getting unstuck when typing in a word document just isn’t working.

FocusYou interact with your words differently on paper vs screen.  There is a difference between the connection of typing letters on a keyboard and watching them come up on a screen, and writing words by hand directly on paper.  It’s almost like you’re removed from directly interacting with the words on screen versus paper.  You watch the screen, not the letters being created by your pen.

A computer can have many distractions.  A journaling notebook, on the other hand, is its own container.  Have you ever been deep in writing, when a notification pops up on your screen and takes you away from the insight you were about to have?

Is one “better” than another?  Depends on what you’re after.

Writing by hand certainly has its positives: slowing down, expressing more than just the words, writing nonlinearly, and interacting more directly.  I highly encourage you to incorporate writing by hand into your journaling practice.

Experiment! Don’t just take my word for it; I also suggest experimenting with the difference yourself.  You might write to the same prompt by hand and typing.  What changes?  Once you know this, you can choose the method most suited to your mood or need. For example, at times when your words are bubbling up and you need to spill them quickly, you can go for your faster route.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the similarities and differences you notice if you try this experiment!

Journaling 101 Examples

Prompt Example
Confidant Example
Letter Example
Dream Example
Stream Of Consciousness Example
Gratitude Example
Idea/Inspiration Example
Goal Tracking Example