by Amy Jones
If you’ve made it this far, I’m thinking YOU ARE READY! In the first article we’ve discussed how sharing your story can help others and assist in your healing process. There are numerous positive aspects of writing including increasing self-esteem, healing, empowerment, mental and emotional processing, broadening perspective and a sense of accomplishment.
The second article focused on how to get started including writing software options, learning to write in your voice, writing styles and provided some powerful statistics about writing and reading.
In this last article, I’ve saved the best for last. Let’s see what a-ha moments you have about writer’s block, the emotional aspect of writing and fine tuning your message. I’ve also provided a sneak peek into my process for you!
Every writer has experienced writer’s block in one way, shape or form. The actual definition of writer’s block from dictionary.com is “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing”.
Writer’s block can arise from:
you’ve not given yourself proper breaks between writing or are trying to write too much at one time. I recommend no more than 2 hours of writing in one sitting with at least 15 – 30 minutes break time.
High Standards or Perfectionism:
you’re worried about spelling, grammar and punctuation and grammar as you write. I recommend letting the flow of thoughts translate to the page and then go back after your break to edit. It is not recommended to edit as you go because this gets you out of the creative process.
you’ll never be good enough, smart enough or recognized enough. I recommend using your love language to give yourself small rewards when you reach writing goals. For example, my love language is words of affirmation and I will tell myself “ good job” and “I’m proud of you”. It helps!
Lack of Structure:
you’re not committing to the process of writing. I recommend creating a structure of time and conducive environment to help you get into the exercise of writing.
you’re constantly comparing yourself to published authors which can diminish self-esteem and create self-sabotage. I recommend positive self-talk to reinforce the encouraging messages you’ve received. Every single one of us has a different style and message which will resonate with others just like us.
The Emotional Aspect of Writing
You will become emotional at some point during the process of writing, most likely. Writing is a very different tool for providing a sense of achievement and validation. It allows you to unburden yourself, bare your soul and release old pain, heal wounds and work through different situations of your life. The emotional side of it may even be just a feeling of pride in yourself to “just do it”.
You’ve decided to share, reveal, divulge and uncover your story. Memories evoke emotions whether humorous, sadness, joyful or insightful. You may get too emotional and need to take a break. Give yourself permission to step away and process what you are feeling.
Depending upon what I was writing about, there were times when I would have to take several days off. I began reliving my story as I was both writing and editing it. You will hear me say over and over again how writing is more powerfully healing than just about anything else I’ve done with the exception of professional therapy. Writing helps you uncover parts of yourself that you may have kept buried for a long time. Writing helps you get all of those swirling thoughts, or what I call thought soup, out of your head and onto paper.
It is also possible that your story will evoke an emotional response in someone else, whether they know you or not. Stories help us connect to each other; helping us recognize that we are not alone in our experiences. This, in and of itself, can be incredibly powerful and healing.
Fine Tune Your Message
If the general public is your target audience, you don’t want to pull them too far into your story or you will lose them. Research shows that getting too detailed, providing in-depth descriptions or non-relevant personal information will cause someone to stop reading. This is also my personal opinion as I received feedback from dozens of people in regard to writing my story. Choose the highlights that are most important and relevant to the story as a whole and edit the rest.
As you write and edit, you may want to save a copy for yourself that includes the details and in-depth information. This will be for your eyes only. Remember, you don’t want to make your story too complicated for an outsider to follow. To keep you on track, read it from an outsider perspective. Can you follow the story line? If the answer is yes, then you are on the right track. If the answer is no, you will have to continue to fine tune your message. Ask for outside assistance if you need more help with this part as it is very important to the entire process of writing and how your story will be received.
Details are more likely to be included when writing for yourself or a family narrative. Situations and circumstances are better captured through in-depth descriptions and relevant information. This is especially pertinent when you are trying to illicit a memory, emotion or feeling you are writing about.
Finally, I’m going to give you a sneak peek into my writing process.
I create a system and a structure to write.
I am freshest in the morning when I don’t have lot of thoughts already cluttering my head. I set aside one hour from 8:00 am to 9:00 am Monday through Friday. This is an absolute definitive structure that only deviates when I write longer. I do not ever cut it short. I’ve trained myself to write during this time which has created a daily habit that is very natural and easy.
I don’t force myself to write.
At any given time, I can be writing about 3, 4 or 5 different things: thought processes, educational programs or personal experiences. I will be in the process of writing and another thought or idea may come to mind. I give myself permission to open a new document, jot down the line of thinking, explore it as long as I need to and then return to what I was writing about when I had the thought. One thought may trigger another thought that’s not relative to what I’m currently writing about.
I don’t make myself begin at the beginning.
Sometimes trying to go back to where it all started can be traumatic. I write whatever is on my mind or from my writing prompts (see below). I find it’s better to let my thoughts flow and then structure them later. This also helps when I start to get my chapters organized and I can see a definitive timeline.
I find writing prompts when I get stuck.
I love motivational quotes and use them a lot in my writing. Quotes can be relevant and recognizable ways to connect the reader to my writing.
I establish a daily word minimum.
When I first started, I committed to writing 500 words every morning. This was difficult in the beginning however with more practice and over time, it became easier and easier. I can easily write 2500 – 4000 words a day after 6 years of writing however this is not usually for the same post, topic or article.
I turn my phone OFF and do not have any other electronics on that could be a distraction.
I write in complete quiet or choose music that does not have any or a lot of words. Indian Vibes, Morcheeba or Thievery Corporation on Pandora are favorite stations when I do listen to music.
Whew! We’ve made it to the end of this series! Great job if you are still here.
Take a moment to feel these words: relieved, empowered, accomplished, unburdened, validated. This is how you will feel when you write your story. I know because that’s how I felt when I wrote mine and you can write yours too!
Meet the author:
Amy Jones is a midlife coach, author and international speaker. Everyone has a story to tell and a book inside of them. Once we let go of the stories that aren’t true, we feel relieved, empowered, accomplished, unburdened and validated. That’s how Jones’ felt once she told her true story of surviving cancer and overcoming emotional trauma and abuse.
She’s had the highs, the lows, the scars, the bruises, the highlights and the low lights that she can now reflect on in this ever-evolving journey of life that we are on. Amy’s passion has always been helping people and being of service. Through her personal trials and triumphs, as well as the experiences of her clients, Amy’s goal is to help people build a life just like she’s done; a life they love waking up to every morning feeling anything is possible.