Emotions need Motion (in writing, too!)

If you’re feeling stuck chances are you’re also feeling Frozen / Paralyzed / Powerless…

Those are hard to work through when you’re sitting at your desk, wanting to write, but STUCK. A therapist said to me once “emotions need motion,” and feeling stuck is a big emotion — one that we don’t always identify or name right away. 

There’s nothing wrong with you for feeling stuck: chances are you’re tired from your day-to-day, stressed about something else that’s keeping you from feeling creative, or you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. 

Try going for a walk. Clear your mind. Don’t take your phone (or, keep it in your pocket!) and walk without headphones around your neighborhood or in your favorite park. Notice your surroundings, take deep breaths, ask yourself what you’re really sticking on — is it that you don’t know what to do with your character, or is that you’re so stressed about a promotion at work that you don’t know how to work with your character right now? 

There is no right or wrong way to write, and everyone feels stuck sometimes. The best thing you can do is remove yourself from the space, and go forward, even just temporarily.


When to Say When – Summer Edition

When we were kids, summer was so easy. Remember that? Our biggest worries were about who would be our friend at camp or if Mom got the good snacks. I used to love summer. Now, it’s just a hot few months where the days are longer and I’m thinking about too many things at once. 

Writing is like that — seasonal, sometimes too hot in a bad way, and sometimes with too many thoughts bouncing around. There is a rhythm to life that we sometimes lose, either because we’re pushing ourselves too hard, stuck in that “productivity” cycle or because we’re working on the wrong thing. 

When we were kids in the summer, we’d play so hard we’d pass out after the pool or after camp. We didn’t know when to say when, because we wanted to soak up all the fun. As adults, it’s easy for us to do the same thing, though it’s not always fun that we’re diving into. 

So, if you’re feeling stuck with your writing, ask yourself this:

  1. Why do I have to do this now? What’s my urgency?

    1. There is no wrong answer! But answering may help you find some clarity and prioritize or de-prioritize accordingly

  2. Is this what I want to be working on right now?

    1. It’s ok to say yes, and it’s ok to say no. You are allowed to shelve projects for the future or let them go all together. 

How does that feel? As summer winds down this month we’ll be focusing more on getting unstuck so we can feel ready for fall.


Why aren’t you writing that book?

Either you’ve always wanted to write a book or you’re slowly warming to the idea. Either way, there are a few reasons why people want to write books , and all reasons are valid.

Here are 3 reasons I often hear:

1. You want to challenge yourself creatively.

2. You are an expert in your field and you want to share your knowledge.

3. You have a story to tell and you’re ready to tell it.

If you’ve nodded your head in agreement with any of these three, what’s keeping you from starting? Or finishing?

Wanting to write is one thing, sitting and showing up for your writing is another. If you struggle to make time for your writing, or have something holding you back. Let’s chat! I can help you break through those blocks. Schedule a complimentary call with me to figure out how to get you moving forward.

A great way to show up for your writing is to schedule it—that’s why I love routines so much and why my weekly writing sprints work so well. I’ve had several people start projects and finish them in less than a year after consistently showing up to sprints each week. The next sprint is August 18th and I’d love to see you!


The harder you think about it, the harder it will be.

Did you know I’m fluent in French? I am. Well, I used to be. Now I’m very rusty because I don’t practice much at all and whenever I get a chance to chat with someone in that beautiful language I can never seem to find my rhythm because I’m just so aware of how I sound. 

The harder I think about it, the harder it gets to conjugate the verbs quickly, to wrap my lips around the word in the right way. 

I was chatting with my French “mom” recently, who hosted me years ago when I studied abroad in college.  The harder I tried to get the words out, the more I froze. I thought too hard about how poorly I was speaking, how hard it was to connect. She listened patiently, not showing that I was basically babbling incoherently, and helped me find the right words. 

Finally, I relaxed enough that I stopped thinking about what I was trying to say and just said it. Not perfectly, but not haltingly either. 

Writing is like that. The harder we try to make something good, the more scrambled it can become. When we put too much pressure on something, it freezes. That doesn’t mean it won’t turn into a diamond, but it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. So why not try less?

Let yourself relax into your writing. When you take the pressure off yourself you might just surprise yourself with how much — and what — you write.


The Dog Days of Summer Burnout

It’s hot. I’m tired. You probably are too. I’m burnt out. You might be too.

So what do we do? For one thing, I do NOT feel like writing. 

And then I start to worry, “what if I never feel like writing again??” 

And then I remind myself, “you like to write, you don’t have to feel like writing to like writing. You’ll feel better soon.”

Because when we’re so brain fried, how can we expect our brains to create? My brain’s battery is empty, barely emitting pathetic sparks to show life. 

So I’m resting it. Last week I talked about how I made muffins in an effort to be off my phone more. The scrolling, constant email checking, and 24/7-thinking is what burned up my fuel in the first place. 

In these dog days of summer, I’m leaning into the heat. I’m leaning into the tiredness. I’m resting more. Turning my brain off more.

I’m reading for fun, working my way through The Vacationers by Emma Straub. I have beach reads on the brain and this is just right. I also loved her book All Adults Here so much, so it is interesting to read some of her earlier writing.

When we feel burnt out, we rest. We nurture our bodies and brains with good food and good reading and sleep. 

Eventually we will feel a bit more like ourselves, and a bit more like writing.


What Does Baking Have to do With Writing?

I made muffins last week as a relaxation-not-staring-at-my-phone activity. If you know me well, you know I don’t really like to cook with recipes, but when it comes to baking I do. Except, I usually never have all the right ingredients on hand. 

For instance, I wanted to make the Smitten Kitchen’s perfect blueberry muffins but the recipe called for a few things I didn’t have: yogurt and baking powder

I had all the other things, though, and so I went to work mostly following the recipe. I made substitutions where I needed to (I’m pretty good at substituting things in baking). And voila, blueberry muffins that turned out perfectly fine.

Substituting is a good skill to have in writing, too. You won’t always have exactly what you need when you sit down to write. Forget a word? Talk around what you’re trying to say, you might even find a way to say it better. Missing a character that will help move the plot along? You can make them up as you go or add them in on the next draft. 

There’s no recipe for the perfect anything. Perfect doesn’t exist, it’s a weird construct that doesn’t matter. What does matter is making something perfect for you – whether it’s whatever you have in the fridge or whatever you can think of off the top of your head. 

And you know what helps those connections? Giving your brain a break. Go do something that isn’t writing, isn’t scrolling, and isn’t a screen. Use up that one ingredient in your pantry that you never know how to incorporate. Go for a walk in the opposite direction you normally go. Make a house of cards out of the uno deck from your childhood. 

If you’re wondering what I subbed in for the missing ingredients? Almond milk for the yogurt, and apple cider vinegar for the baking powder. I added the vinegar into the almond milk and let it sit for 20 minutes to make pseudo-buttermilk and the vinegar in the now almond buttermilk reacts with the baking soda I did have. It all worked. Science and all that.


How is it July? What did I do in June?

Happy July, writers! 

How is your summer staring out? I for one was forced to reckon with the fact that I don’t get enough rest. After 6 weeks of weird health things happening off and on (I’m fine!!) I realized that some of it was triggered by lack of sleep, stress, and my constant state of motion. 

When I say motion I don’t mean healthy exercise, I mean the go-go-go attitude I tend to have, paired with my inability to sit still, or rest for more than a few minutes. Even in sleep I’m running in my dreams like I’m on fire.

Subsequently, I have not been writing much. I did post a few essays I’ve written in the past on a website called Vocal, and I’m excited to explore that medium of writing and posting to take less pressure off of myself to finish projects.

I’m still working on my novel revisions, slowly, and I imagine I will be chipping away at her (yes, my novel is a She) for a bit longer. And I’m accepting that. I wasn’t for a while, and instead was mad at myself, frustrated, and truthfully, I was scared that I couldn’t do it, that I couldn’t make my book better, that it would never be good enough to be published. 

That thought process sucked, and if I were my coach, I’d gently remind myself that great, big things take time. And to stop comparing myself to others. And to get off of social media!

So what are we doing here? July is going to be about balance and when-to-say-when. I’m restructuring some things in my business as a writing coach, wanting to provide great service and advice to writers while also taking time to work on my own creative writing and prioritizing rest. We aren’t meant to drive ourselves into the ground. So why was I?

I’m giving you the heads up that this month I’ll be talking a lot about balance, boundaries, rest, and anything else that might come up. I may drop a few reading recommendations in as well because that seems to be the only way I know how to rest. First up: I just finished Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney and it was a delightful love letter to independent women and New York City.

Anyway, thanks for reading along, and I hope you are taking care of yourselves. It’s an important part of fostering creativity.


Reminder: Writing Rules

There are no rules when it comes to your writing. There are no rules when it comes to your creativity.

If you’ve joined me at a writing sprint you know that I say “There are no rules!” often and emphatically.

What do I mean when I say that? Quite literally, I mean, there are no rules when it comes to writing or telling your story.

I have to say it to myself, when my doubts keep me from writing a scene, and I’ll say it over and over again to encourage you to put any fears aside and just write. Write weirdly, write quickly, write slowly. Write how you need to. 

I love this phrase so much I even designed a notebook with it in mind (my first product, and a goal for my first year of business!).  If you want your own, you can purchase one here.

So, today’s reminder: there are no rules. You get to make the rules. 

So find your voice, find your flow, and let yourself write freely. 

Remember — it doesn’t have to be good. That’s for the second draft 🙂 or third or fourth…


Author Interviews ON Writing

Sometimes we need to *hear* about other writers and their work styles rather than *read* about them. Auditory processing is different, and important! 

I’ve picked five long and short interviews with authors that have resonated with me. My poetry professor played #4 for us my senior year of college and it is something I think about often, 10 years later.

  1. Joyce Carol Oates – The Tim Ferris Show

  2. George Saunders – Armchair Experts with Dax Shepard

  3. Roger Rosenblatt – Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

  4. Ira Glass on Taste, Storytelling, and The Gap

  5. Jhumpa Lahiri on Loneliness and Writing

My favorite takeaway is that it’s ok to be bad at writing, you won’t be bad forever. And that it takes a lot of little action to get where you want to be. 

I’d love to know what resonates with you. Happy writing!


Writing In A Flow State

Have you ever started writing and just landed on your flow? That flow “state” where you put your head down, type, and all of a sudden an hour or more has passed? 

That’s the very best feeling. But it’s highly unusual that you’d get into your flow state every time you sit down to write. The thing about writing, is that it is more about discipline than motivation. Because if you wait until you’re really motivated, or your in that flow state, chances are you will be waiting a loooong time. 

My writing teacher shared this quote with me five years ago and it has stuck with me. 

“When there is no wind for your sails, you can row.”

It’s a famous quote, I know, and there are variations of it, so I am sorry not to attribute it to anyone specifically. 

The point is that you may not feel like writing on a particular day, you may not get into your “groove” but that’s OK—you can still work at your story, you can still sit down and make space for the process and the practice of your writing. 

So, if you’ve got no wind in your sails today, find your oars and row.