The #1 insight that will keep you coming back to the page.

The #1 insight that will keep you coming back to the page.

Do you ever struggle to make time for writing? (Even as I type that, I know the answer. We're all human after all.) 

Procrastination and avoidance are human traits, and yet so often I see writers turn the struggle to write into something far worse: evidence they're not meant to write.

If they say they like to write but they're not making time for it, maybe they're not really writers. Sound familiar?

Here's the thing. I don't buy it.

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Procrastinating? 4 Mindsets That Make Writing Less Overwhelming

  The act of beginning---of actually showing up at the page---can be simple. Just remember these simple truths:

1. Writing doesn't have to be perfect on the first try. It isn't about sitting down with crystal clear knowledge of what you're going to say. It's not about thinking something up. It's about jotting something down---an idea, an image, a story.

2. Writing never has to be perfect. Whether you're writing a story or an essay, you have one goal: convey an idea. You can do that most effectively by being yourself and remember that, as Danielle LaPorte says, every masterpiece could have been better.

3. The best writers rewrite and revise... again, and again, and again. Story goes that Hemingway rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms 39 times. So why expect your writing to be perfect on the first try?

4. We're all born storytellers---each and every one of us. Talking to a spouse or significant other. Talking to a friend. Even talking to our dogs, we are always telling stories. Writing is simply the process of putting the stories we tell on paper. And that's exciting, because it gives us the opportunity to dig deeper and reach more people.

So take three, slow, deep, calming breaths, and then? Simply. Begin.

Find Your Inner Compass: Believe in Magic (For Real)

Last week, I invited you to pay attention to your reactions (and not your judgments) as writing ideas and opportunities came across your path---in other words, I asked you to feel for the moments before your hyper-critical brain kicked in, when your insides lit up because an idea resonated with you. I swore up and down that my best writing opportunities have come this way, and it's true. Yet even if you believe me, there's probably a little (or not so little) voice in your mind resisting. Saying, "Oh yeah? How do I know it's going to work?" Well, here's my answer: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A few weeks ago, I went for a walk at Hartman Rocks, a place where most Crested Buttians go for early season mountain biking. I had only an hour between meetings, so I hiked and decided that at each junction in the trail, I'd turn whichever direction felt best. No map. No worries.

(Not always sage advice, actually, when it comes to Hartman's. There are a lot of junctions and not many landmarks. So I guess I'm not advising you to hike without a map so much as I'm encouraging you to walk without a destination. Good? Good.)

Anyway, I took a right at the second junction because everything looked really green that way (a rarity at Hartman's, which is desert and sage brush).  I was smiling and listening to my iPod when a bush ten feet up the trail rustled and out wandered a porcupine.

I know porcupines as animals that my dog likes to tree and once sent a quill right through her wrist. She limped for months.


But this porcupine looked...cute. His quills were lit up by the sun so that they almost glowed, and I could see his body underneath. He waddled, too, a movement somewhere between a duck and a tiny bear.

The porcupine didn't pay any attention to me, just wandered off the trail and into a patch of greens Somehow, I'd come to think of him as my porcupine. One more animal I'd asked to see, and the universe delivered.

Yep, I know how that sounds. But just like I've been trying to listen to my essential self, I've been trying to bring that type of awareness to the world around me. And the more I do, the more I find the things I seek. Writing ideas, yes, but animals, too. I live in the mountains, after all, and I typically miss out on them because I hike with a hyper-active little black dog. I've been wishing to see more of them, and sure enough I have.

In the last month, a coyote ran across the road in front of my car, and I've seen bears three times. One of them walked up to my from my door (ten feet away from coming inside, no joke). I biked 15 feet away from a pair of elk, have seen more marmots than I can count, and watched a porcupine graze.

It's. Been. Awesome.

People who believe in a collective consciousness (in Australia they call it the Everywhen) would say that I asked for these encounters, and the Everywhen delivered them. I find myself becoming more and more receptive to that idea, but even when it's a mental stretch, I've found an interpretation that works for me---and my writing.

Namely, there are a lot of porcupines where I live. There are also a lot of bears, coyote, elk and even mountain lions (I did wish to see one of those, but as soon as I did the person next to me started talking about how truly large they are. I was content to let that one go). In other words, there are so many wild animals out there that of course I can hope and expect to see them. I just can't get hung up on how, when, where or with whom I'll see them. All I can do is put myself out there.

The same is true for writing. There are a lot of ideas out there that would make good stories. There are a lot of places that want to publish those stories. There are even a lot of ways to get paid as a writer. But if we get hung up on one way of doing it, just because it worked for someone else, we're going to miss everything else. I recently heard it this way (another one from Martha Beck...): "Focused creation creates unintentional blindness."

That one flies in the face of our culture, doesn't it? Where we're taught to stay focused and put the ol' nose to the grind stone? But I love the freedom in that statement.

If we open ourselves up and pay attention, we'll suddenly see that the possibilities are limitless. We'll write some of those stories, and we'll get published in some of those magazines though not all. We'll even get paid. Of course, not every assignment is going to walk right up to our front door like that bear. And sometimes we'll feel confused or unclear about what comes next or how to "make things happen".

But when everything falls into place, it's going to feel like magic. So close to magic that we just might believe in it. And why not? It's a whole lot more fun than overwhelm.

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Like where this is going but not sure how to start practicing it? Consider one-on-one coaching to free your inner writer. You'll learn to work with yourself instead of against yourself and find freedom in your writing.

Practice Writing: How to Write When You Don't Know What to Write About

We all have those moments. Our last writing project is finished and we haven't found a new one. Or we've signed up for a writing retreat but have no idea how we'll use the time. "Practice Writing" can be a great way to weather the down time, stay connected to writing, and be ready when our next idea arrives.

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Make Time to Write: Steal Small Moments in Strange Places

  I recently flew to Germany to meet up with my college roommates, one of whom lives in Berlin. I used to love flying because it meant I was going somewhere. It's lost its luster, especially flying through Newark.

On this particular trip, I watched a gate attendant yell at passengers for nearly missing their flight. She furrowed her brow so deep her eyebrows knit themselves together: "How stupid, waiting so long to go to the airport. I would come here first thing in the morning. I'd never miss my flight."

The passengers tried to respond with kindness, but the more this woman yelled the more defensive and angry they became. The negativity built up like a cloud between them, and I tried not to stare (unsuccessfully).

I used to respond to these moments by posting status updates on Facebook. Things like, "Airports don't do much for my faith in humanity." Or I crossed my arms against my chest and sulked because I couldn't hurry the process along.

Lately I've found a new approach to dealing with the airport. I write.

Sometimes, it takes bribery or cajoling. You only have 30 minutes until boarding, you don't have to write any longer than that. Or, You can look through the skymall catalog first, but then it's time to write.

At some point, I return to the sky mall catalog because I can't get over the idea of spanks for men. But by writing for even a short time, I tune out the chaos around me and I feel good about being a writer. I actually wrote.

I've written before that we don't have to write every day, but we do need to show up. One of the ways we stop ourselves from writing is by waiting for the perfect place and time to write. A nice office. A block of time. No distractions.


Know what I do when I have all that lined up? The dishes. Or I clean the bathroom. Or I go for a run. Quite frankly, I can't handle all that time and freedom because I feel like I need to bring my A game and WRITE GREAT THINGS.

When I fit writing into a short time slot, I lower my expectations. It's about productivity, not perfection, and I end up writing more. When I write in a place like the airport, I feel sly and clever because I'm taking something I really don't like and I'm making it work for me. That keeps my ego happy and out of my way. Win win.

As writers we can steal moments in all sorts of strange places. Waiting for a meeting to begin. Waiting for our kids while they visit with the dentist (well, not me, but for you parents out there). In the car, waiting to pick someone up. In 10 or 20 or 30 minutes we can keep our work moving forward.

I don't know about you, but that makes me feel really good. Which in turn makes it easier to deal with flight attendants who make rude, snarky comments to the passenger next to me. Or the guy who is so big (not fat, just big) that he spills over the arm rest and takes up half my seat. Or the two screaming babies on an eight-hour flight. I know. You get the idea... How do you steal time for writing?