Why you aren’t writing – Reason #5

a

This week I’m writing about the one thing that I think stops more people in their tracks when they really want to write more than anything else: FEAR.

We humans are full of fear. About so many things. And that’s okay. BUT… if we really want to write, we have to overcome it. And this isn’t a one-time deal. Our fear is something we have to keep revisiting over and over and over. The fear dragon is that big.

Aside from all the usual fears we might imaging (I’m not good enough, I’ll never make any money doing this, People won’t like what I have to say, People will get angry about what I have to say, People will think I’m weird/crazy for thinking that, etc. etc. etc…), I think there’s one fear, above all others, that stops many people from honoring their compulsion to write.

FEAR OF EXPOSURE

It’s HARD to acknowledge some of thoughts we have knocking around inside us, let alone share them with strangers, and maybe even more so with people who know us.

It takes a lot of courage and a strong sense of self to own our thoughts and words. The pain of not writing has to be greater than the pain that comes with the judgments (or our imagined judgments) of others before we can move through the fear and just write.

Natalie Goldberg says: “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to talk about. Be willing to be split open.”

And In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote about cold cocking the angel in the house (that voice in the head that constantly chastises) with her ink well. Do it! Those voices are the fear. Cold cock the voices. They’re the enemy.

It’s the only way.

Making the most of fallow writing periods

http://survivaljoe.net/blog/californias-fallow-farms-first-stage-of-food-crisis/

http://survivaljoe.net/blog/californias-fallow-farms-first-stage-of-food-crisis/

We all have something of unique value to offer the world, and the thought of anyone’s vision, wisdom, or story being trapped inside them hurts my heart. But while I’m invested in helping people remove blocks so they can, find and use their voices, and tell their untold stories, I also know there’s real value in quiet periods.

I’ve been through one recently myself. It all started in early October when I was surprisingly ejected from my living space at the time. I immediately moved into a new space that would be, I had hoped, a more medium-term situation so I could begin to feel settled.

Three weeks after moving into that space, which was the downstairs of a house, owned by the woman who lived upstairs, I left for almost three weeks for a conference in Mexico, preceded by some time in Portland. My goal was to come back from the conference all fired up about life and my work and to get back to it all.

What happened was something quite different, and in the past three months, I haven’t written much of anything, aside from a couple of blog posts in December and an email to my list of followers.

I came home to chaos in my living space (both physically and energetically); the newish relationship I had started in September ended. Then started, then ended again; I realized the living space was bad for me on all levels, so I began looking for a new space, found it and recently moved; hustled for work to pay my bills; and tried to make friends in my new town.

I started to have doubts about teaching other people how to move blocks so they can write when I’m not even doing it myself. But then I accepted the fact that fallow times are necessary. It’s all about recharging our subconscious while we tend to other things. To life. And while we’re tending to life, we’re filling our subconscious, which will show up for us time and again when we finally get back to the writing.

I like to think of my writing practice as I would a relationship. Sometimes we need to step back, give it room, let it breathe. Too much attention can stifle, even kill the love, the flow.

When I hit a fallow writing period, like the one I’ve had lately, the hardest part is not knowing when it will end. And experience has shown me that there isn’t much I can do about it.

I’m happy to say I’m coming out of mine now. Even though my new studio is still in a state of chaos, just having my own space lets me think and feel, and when I can do this, I can write.

*  *  *

 

When you have a fallow writing period, how do you come out of it?
Do you do something intentional, or does it take care of itself?

Why I love teaching Writing Through the Body

AllSpheres_eBookCover_DarkBackI’ve been fortunate enough to step into the community at For Goodness Sake in Truckee, a group of people who are conscious, spiritual, forward thinking, and loving. And I was fortunate enough to be allowed to teach a free Writing Through the Body workshop there in December to a rapt audience who clearly appreciated what this process has to offer. It was the kind of validation I needed post-AFest to keep on my path of creating the Writing Through the Body enterprise I envision.

In this free four-hour workshop, I share information about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi concept of flow and Candice Pert’s discoveries about our emotions and our subconscious and how they relate to our chakras. I also talk about my thought process I went through in creating Writing Through the Body and what I’ve learned over the years from my students about the freedom that comes when we tap the subconscious. I give a general meditation that targets all the chakras, accompanied by a few writing prompts. And after the break, I give them a sample of the meditation and writing prompts from both the fiction workshop and the memoir workshop.

I love talking about Writing Through the Body because I believe in it so much. I believe it’s founded on some solid thinking, even scientific thinking. And I love talking about it and teaching it because I see the benefits people realize, even in this short, condensed version.

It’s gratifying to me to see the shifts in people, to have people tell me afterward about all the ideas they suddenly have again and what they wrote that surprised them during the workshop. And I love receiving the emails afterward and learning about dreams and epiphanies had and how they’re putting what they gained to good use and are writing, either for the first time or again, after a long period of being blocked.

I plan to do more of these free workshops in 2015 as I continue to create and build my stable of Writing Through the Body products and services. Here are some things you can expect to see:

  • A FREE eBook (which will contain the contents of the free workshop I gave at For Goodness Sake)
  • More teleseminars for both fiction and non-fiction
  • A full 7-module digital WTB course for both fiction and non-fiction
  • Weekend and 7-week face-to-face WTB workshops
  • A WTB book, in print form (outlining and drafting have begun)

If you haven’t already and would like to be on the email list, please opt-in in the upper right-hand corner of this page. You’ll automatically receive my “10 Ways to Banish Writer’s Block” immediately. And when I finish the eBook, I’ll send that to you, as well, free of charge.

Thanks to everyone who continues to be interested in Writing Through the Body, who is spreading the word about its effectiveness, and for having the courage to write and share your stories with the world. We need them.

Much love,

XXXXX
Johnnie

 

Ask your character what she wants

If I find myself just writing scenes where characters talk because I like the sound of their voices or the way they are together, I know it’s time to step back for a minute, re-evaluate, and do an exercise to refresh my brain.

One thing I do is get the characters talking about something different and that will actually move the story forward is to ask each of them in the scene this question: What do you want in this situation and why?

Then I let them have at it. I write in first person monologue for as long as each one needs to talk. And I free write. I recommend setting a timer if you haven’t done free writing before or if you really, really believe you won’t be able to get very far.

Commit to at least 5 minutes of free-writing, which means once you start, you don’t stop. You keep the pen/pencil moving on the paper (yes, you have to do this by hand), even when the character is being obstinate and won’t say much. When this happens, just keep writing, even if it’s just I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say. Eventually, he/she will say something new and different, and it will probably surprise you.

Try it. It works!

 

Start watching at 1:35…

Getting to Know You: Backstory – How much is too much?

In my Writing Through the Body workshop this week, we talked about backstory a little. Backstory is your character’s history. It’s everything that happened before the story you’re telling.

Knowing your character’s backstory will help you make informed decisions about her or his motivations, intentions, and behaviors in the story you tell.

Before we went into production on my feature film, FOUND OBJECTS, I wrote extensive and detailed backstories on all the characters and sent them to the actors who would play the parts. By the time we started production, they had clearly ingested their respective characters and showed up fully embodying them.

Even though we aren’t acting out our characters in fiction writing in the literal sense, in some ways, we are. We have to be able to slip into their skins to portray them with authenticity, and the best way to do this is by thoroughly knowing their backstories.

This doesn’t mean, though, that the backstory will wind up in your story, though. In fact, oftentimes it’s better NOT to include it.

In the video below, KM Weiland quotes Ernest Hemingway:
“Backstory is the nine-tenths of the story under the water.”

Watch the video to see what else she has to say about backstory.

And Libby Hellman has more to say about her process of creating backstory
for the main character in her novel, Easy Innocence.

 How do you create backstory for your characters?